April 26, 2007

Okay, that is a terrible portmanteau for the words “trainer” and “therapist,” but I am sure it’s straightforward.  This idea of a trainer being a therapist has been something that I have often thought about, as someone who has used a few trainer, not to mention many, many coaches since elementary school.

The coach aspect is slightly different, because you are performing for them and they have more at stake.  For example, if it were the coach of my team, they get a W or L just like I would.  If it was a coach I was using on the side, too many L’s means I get rid of him.  With a coach, therefore, one would assume there would be an involved level of “therapy” or “mental/emotional” coaching; anything to get the W. 

With a personal trainer, though, things are a bit different.  People hire personal trainers to achieve physical goals.  Sure, getting stronger may not necessarily get you a W, but at least you got stronger, and that is why you hired the trainer.  Is the line between personal trainer and therapist one that shouldn’t be crossed? 

Training Wheels touched on this when he mentioned how some of his clients, uhm, go a little far with text messaging him.  Now, that is a line that probably shouldn’t be crossed.  I guess it depends on the people involved and the situation.

In any case, does being a therapist mean someone will be a better trainer.  On some level, yes, but in general, I really would have to say no.  Some of the best trainers, the most motivating and knowledgeable, might just not be the best listeners or “therapists.”  If anything, I would think the notion of a trainer being a therapist would be somewhat antithetical.  I use a trainer to push me, motivate me, and be tough on me, not baby me like a therapist would.  Then again, people don’t hire trainers for therapy, right?

Of course, in this season of Work Out, Jackie Warner launches the “brand extension,” Sky Lab, with the intention of having her trainers act like therapists for their clients.  Now, for sure these clients need both trainers and therapists.  It certainly helps that these trainers can serve the role of a therapist as well, since the Sky Lab clients have pretty much proved they have deep rooted issues that go beyond pure fitness and healthy eating deficiencies. 

Clearly, being a “therapist” for a client might help in your training sessions, but I wouldn’t say it is the be all, end all. It depends on your client’s needs (and some clients sure are needy!).  But, if a client really “needs” someone to listen to their problems, maybe they should find better friends or buy therapy sessions instead.