I think the wave of technology has gotten to us.
These days, it’s really easy to get quick popularity if you make proper use of social media vehicles like Facebook, Twitter and Instagram to do so. Being an unregulated industry, fitness and strength training has no jurisdiction and therefore it’s really up to the onlooker to decide whether or not a coach is competent.
Because going on social media and the internet in general basically exposes oneself to the masses, it’s fitting that I make a comment based on something I’ve noticed as an innocent bystander. Posting bathroom selfie photos on Instagram, videos of clients getting absolutely demolished in their workouts on facebook, publicizing shared motivational “work harder” quotes by the misled of the fitness industry, and even taking half-naked mirror shots under the guise we’ve all accepted as “progress photos”, all readily come to mind in the commercialization of the glamorized sellout personal trainer.
In the grand scheme of things, I’m OK with all of that, as long as that’s as far-reaching as it gets. What I mean is, these folks can still call themselves trainers – because, well, as silly as some of this may be to some of us, they’re still in their element.
And now for the segue into the real topic.
On some websites I’ve noticed a new (or maybe not too new, and I’m just out of the loop) thing to do is post their resume for the masses to see. No – I don’t mean a bio section, or an “about me” that runs through highlights, accomplishments, and a few things about themselves, usually adjacent to a generic photo of a vapidly smiling personal trainer with the cliché arms-folded-across-the chest photo.
I mean the actual resume.
Hey, to each his own. However you want to articulate that you’ve got some accomplishments that deem you fit to listen to as a professional is your business. What I DON’T like is when things begin to cross over into unfamiliar territory. When I see certain people’s taglines on social media, I do a double take. Especially in the fitness industry, there’s a growing number of folks trying to outdo one another, until they’re literally perceived as “Jack of all trades”.
Cue hypothetical Exhibit A:
Personal Trainer, Movement Specialist, Strength Coach, Author, Fitness Writer, Public Speaker, Sport Psychologist, Motivational Speaker, Actor, Hip-Hop instructor, and Lord.
Maybe the above example is over the top, but you get my point. Forget a schooling background, or a minimum credential or number of years of experience. In my opinion, you are A-OK to list yourself as having the actual tagline as a part of your profession if you are paid to do it on a regular basis. That means that folks who start a blog and post their unsolicited thoughts on it with no one to tell them they can’t, SHOULD NOT call themselves professional fitness writers. Until they’re making money to do it, this is a hobby. A passion. Whatever have you. It’s NOT a profession.
On a similar note, professional trainers who have done 2 or 3 seminars in the last 8 years of their career – even if they’re in front of BIG groups – SHOULD NOT call themselves public speakers. People like Dean Somerset, Martin Rooney, and Nick Tumminello, who are literally travelling around the world to give presentations, can and should call themselves public speakers, because they actively practice just that, and get paid regularly for engagements. The rest of us are just strength coaches… who also happen to give a couple of seminars here and there. Sorry.
I’m not on board with the “oversell your image to the masses” idea like you’ve just read above. This society seems to shape us to believe that it’s not enough to just have one title. Just like anything, however, smart ones in the group will be quick to call B.S.
And what about the non- training related titles that also saturate personal bios, like “motivational speaker, life coach, counsellor, consultant, etc”? I’d encourage these guys to choose one path and stick with it. I’m sure you’ve helped thousands – no, millions of people change their lives by doing them the honor of a 1 on 1 meeting at Starbucks. Or maybe you’ve got experience in both training and life coaching. Perhaps you double majored in school, or just made a career change as time went on. Instead of creating a hybrid business plan that creates a “fusion” of both of your careers, just choose one!
I’m no veteran, but I’d go out on a limb and deduce that having inconsistency in how you present yourself to the public only screams instability in your career choices. There’s nothing wrong with making career changes, but there’s plenty wrong with not fully committing to whatever you’re currently involved in. If you want to promote two entirely different things (and I don’t mean things that were MEANT to go hand in hand like fitness and nutrition; I mean things like fitness and, say, financial planning), make two different websites, print two different sets of business cards, and make 2 sets of social media accounts. The worlds shouldn’t mix. There’s a difference between referencing your college basketball career or your history of obesity and the accompanied mental turmoil, versus choosing subject matter that should be irrelevant and separate. You don’t need to be posting columns on life lessons, advice and guidance on your training blog, giving relationship pointers or motivational mantras on your YouTube fitness account, or downloading your R&B portfolio to your “About Me” section. If you’re multitalented, those deserve outlets of their own.
IF YOU WANT TO BE TAKEN SERIOUSLY AS A TRAINER, KNOW THAT PEOPLE WILL WANT TO KNOW YOU, THETRAINER.
It’s become taboo for professionals to stay in their lane, so to speak, and keep focused on putting their time and energy into gaining credibility and success the right way. It’s pretty easy to get sidetracked and try to profess your expertise in 10 things at one time. But I call that the Crossfit of business.