A friend sent me this article on “fat” trainers awhile ago. If you don’t feel like reading the whole thing, let me summarize.
The gist of the article is that there are more and more “fatter” fitness instructors and trainers at gyms these days. Gyms are more open to hiring them, and people are more open to working out with them.
Well, not necessarily everyone. As my MySpace buddy, Scott White, points out in the article, “It’s a disgrace. It’s like going to a mechanic who has a broken-down car or a financial advisor who’s poor.” That sounds kind of harsh, but it is still a fair assessment.
If I were to go to my gym today, to hire a trainer, I would want him to be in better shape than I am. If he looks out of shape, then his workouts could be crap and he might not know his stuff. Granted, this trainer could be extremely knowledgeable, and just not practice what he preaches. But, I wouldn’t want to take that risk. From a trainer’s perspective, he should want to look like he is in great shape to attract clients. I guarantee that if a fit trainer and a fat trainer were both working the floor for clients, the fit trainer would get more business.
The article cites that many people, though, prefer instructors who do not look like they are in great shape because it is “less intimidating.” Okay, I would say that, at the very least, I am above average in the fit department, so I can’t relate to the intimidation problem. Even if I were grossly overweight, and I took a class with very fit instructor, I couldn’t imagine that I would feel intimidated. In fact, I would probably be more motivated to go to classes with that instructor in hopes of achieving their level of fitness. And, frankly, when I do go to a spin class that is being taught by some master cyclist in incredible shape, I feel that I get a much better workout than some run of the mill overweight instructor.
Since the start of 2007, I have had three friends ask me to help “train” them. Now, I am not a certified personal trainer, but my friends have asked me to help because they know how motivated I am when it comes to working out. However, along with the motivational aspect, they have seen my results from my own fitness regimen. If I were overweight or out of shape, in spite of all my training, I highly doubt they would have asked me to help them.
Sometimes, I wonder how trainers and instructors at gyms could possibly look the way they do. Especially in the case of fitness instructors, who, normally, are not only leading the class but also participating. Imagine teaching 5 spin classes and 5 sculpt classes, on top of doing your own workouts, and still not being in great shape. To me, that probably means you are doing something wrong, such as eating too much of the wrong foods. It could also be the result of some medical condition, but you really don’t get to know that during a first impression. All you know off the bat is how they look.
I definitely do not support discriminating against people who look out of shape. If they know their stuff, they should be hired, especially if they have/can get clients or students. However, some of the best marketing for a trainer or instructor is his or her physical appearance, so it is sort of mind-boggling that they wouldn’t already be (or at least strive to be) in great shape. While the NYT article had cited that the notion of “heavier” trainers is more common, at least from what I have seen, it is a very tiny portion of the fitness industry who fall into this category.