|Who is Keith Richards' personal trainer? lol|
I've spilled my guts on this site before ranting on how personal trainers have pretty much high jacked the NSCA (National Strength and Conditioning Association). When I joined in the early 80's it was new, small, and focused on training for athletes. Back then NSCA stood for National Strength Coaches Association. Of course one could argue that if the NSCA had maintained that original focus, it would still be a small organization. No doubt the expansion of interests into personal training has greatly increased the size of the NSCA and with more size comes more revenue, recognition, and influence. Unfortunately for those of us who are coaches, I would argue that it has lost us some credibility in the high performance athletic training arena. Few real, in-the-trenches coaches, take the NSCA seriously anymore. I maintain my membership and certification, but don't really see much in the journals or conferences that interests me anymore. I am not against personal trainers. More power to anyone who can make a living helping others to improve physically. I hope someday, maybe after I retire, to start a little business of my own. But the mindset and skills of a successful personal trainer are much different than those of a coach. Having a personal trainer is becoming a sign of status now for the financially elite as the article below explains. I'm not sure if i could ever fit into that world or not.
July 27, 2013
Our Pulchritudinous Priesthood
By FRANK BRUNI
I NEITHER spotted a psychotherapist nor heard mention of therapy in Woody Allen’s newest movie, “Blue Jasmine,” which pokes fun at faddish, pampered New Yorkers, as Allen tends to do. But a personal trainer flits across the screen and factors into the plot.
That pretty much says it all.
What therapists were to the more cerebral New York of yesteryear, trainers are to the more superficial here and now: designated agents of self-actualization, florid expressions of self-indulgence, must-have accessories, must-cite authorities.
“My therapist says” is outmoded. “My trainer says” is omnipresent, at least in the coddled precincts of most cosmopolitan cities coast to coast.
The ranks of trainers metastasize and the adulation for them swells, even as their precise function grows fuzzier — or more variable from trainer to trainer and client to client. Trainers are the new priests. Trainers are the new escorts. They’re paid listeners, paid talkers: friends for hire, who charge by the hour, water not included. And they’re ludicrously apt emblems of, and metaphors for, this particular juncture in America, where people of means seem to believe that there’s no problem — from a child’s grades to a belly’s sprawl — that can’t be fixed by throwing money and a putative expert at it. Anything can be delegated. Everything can be outsourced, even perspiration.
As David Zinczenko, the editorial director of Men’s Fitness, told me: “There are people who organize your closet, walk your dog, build your social media profile. We’re evolving into a personal-service culture.” Or devolving, as the case may be.
Personal trainers are a luxury that illustrates how different the lives of affluent Americans and the lives of the less fortunate can be. But people well outside the 1 percent or even the 5 percent make room in their budgets for trainers, and that bespeaks the particular intensity of our obsession with health and beauty, not to mention the Sisyphean contradictions in our pursuit of both. Many food lovers I know intersperse their trainer-monitored calisthenics with lavish meals at the latest restaurant: one lunge forward, one waddle back.
I too belong to the hopeful tribe of the personally trained, which I joined back in 2002, when I needed to lose some 50 pounds. So I can attest that what’s most remarkable of all is the sheer oddity of the personal-training ecosystem, which I’ve observed across a series of gyms and a sequence of my own trainers: Aaron and then Ari and now Andrew. I seem to put a lot of stock in the first letter of the alphabet.
Andrew, last name Ginsburg, is also a stand-up comedian and does riffs, onstage and off, about the way the boom in personal training has permitted struggling actors, failed athletes and even ex-cons to repurpose themselves as trainers, with meaningless credentials from certificate mills.
“If you have $400 and a pulse, you can be a trainer,” he told me during a recent session, referring to the licensing fee from one organization, which administers a multiple-choice test. “A chimp could pass it. The questions are like, ‘If a client complains of tightness in the chest, do you: A) chocolate, B) chocolate, C) chocolate, D) consult a physician?’ ”
“So the answer’s B, right?” I said.
He told me to focus on my leg presses, during which we marveled at a nearby client, whose “workout” was a 15-minute soliloquy about her weekend plans, delivered while her flirty male trainer stretched her ever so tenderly.
There’s a trainer at my gym who routinely gives clients graphic details of his libidinous escapades. There’s a trainer who travels with and to certain clients, who can’t be without him. There’s a trainee who exercises, if you can call it that, in a full coat of makeup, never smudged by sweat. There are teenagers dropped off by their parents, who apparently believe they owe their children not just good educations but six-pack abs.
How did this happen? And when? Fifteen years ago I didn’t know a single person who had a personal trainer; then, suddenly, every third friend had one. Personal trainers are like automatic tellers: one minute they didn’t exist, the next they were everywhere, and considered indispensable.
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, there were more than 234,000 people employed in the category of “fitness trainers and aerobics instructors” in 2012, an increase of about 40 percent from 10 years earlier and a robust exception to a stagnant or deteriorating job market along most other vectors of American life. This is our great nation’s future: an army of men and women in Lululemon apparel, barking about the importance of a “strong core” and meaning muscle, not character.
Harry Hanson, a longtime trainer who runs the American Academy of Personal Training, a professional school with branches in New York and Boston, told me that at some point over recent years, the market for personal training became so huge that “everybody who was a college athlete or had a good body thought, ‘I can be a personal trainer.’ ”
“There is no shortage of personal trainers,” he said. “It’s a glamorous occupation.” His own school’s mission, he said, is to turn out trainers who really do know what they’re doing.
AT the Equinox fitness chain, members who want to sign up for personal training answer questions about the kind of motivation and motivator best suited to them, and there are different levels of trainers, signifying different altitudes of expertise.
When I contacted a publicist for the chain to learn more about this, and to ask what percentage of members use personal trainers and how many trainers the chain employs, I was given only a blanket statement. “As we consider ourselves in a ‘category of one,’ it is our policy to be overly sensitive about how we are positioned in the industry,” it began.
It asserted that Equinox is “at the forefront of personal training” and is advised by “top experts in the fields of personal training, nutritionist, and sleep.” (That’s verbatim.) It was as if I’d been trying to lift the veil of Scientology.
But then there’s a kooky degree of mysticism surrounding personal training and the demigods who mete it out, no small number of whom — like Jillian Michaels and Bob Harper of “The Biggest Loser,” or like Tracy Anderson, who once took credit for Madonna’s triceps — have become celebrities. It’s a mysticism that extends these days to the whole world of exercise, which is more religion than chore, and to its many sects. Not for nothing is one of the most popular spinning franchises known as SoulCycle.
I think the explosion in personal training indeed owes much, as Zinczenko suggested, to our totemic, slightly lazy faith in expertise, no matter how dubiously claimed. There are private tutors, lactation consultants and nutritionists where they barely existed before.
The explosion also owes something to the increasing striation of privilege and convenience. A gym membership is the coach section. A personal trainer at the gym is an extra-legroom seat. A personal trainer with his or her own gym and a cult following: that’s first-class.
And the personal trainer benefits from how broad and diverse a cluster of needs he or she meets, by how easily he or she can be customized: the Mr. Potato Head of service providers. Like a therapist, a trainer can challenge or affirm you. Unlike a therapist, a trainer can touch you. The conversation can stray in all sorts of directions. So can the relationship.
In “Blue Jasmine,” it strays to the ballpark, which is where a rakish plutocrat takes his trainer. You’ll have to see the movie if you want to know which base they reach.