Sunday, February 7, 2010

Because Sometimes We Just Feel Threatened

Photos: me and Gene in his home, before, and Gene in December 2009, after.

My badly overweight longtime friend Gene began getting sick more and more often. Unlike most people, who decide to do nothing, Gene immediately reevaluated his life, changed his diet and joined Gold's Gym Hollywood. Gold's Hollywood is a celebrity gym filled with beautiful men and women, both famous, and not so much.

Interestingly, Gene decided he needed a trainer as he felt unsure about how to go about getting in shape, and he hired a female trainer with an unremarkable physique, even though Gold's has dozens of male trainers in amazing shape, from triathalon-honed bodies to competitive bodybuilders, and everything in between.

Why did he hire an unremarkably built female trainer? Because he was intimidated. Gene thought that a trainer with a great physique would demand more of him and expect results... and he wasn't confident enough that he could keep up, so he viewed the female as less of a challenge and less of a threat. And indeed she was.

Within a few months however, Gene's confidence soared as his physique transformed due to his new eating regimen and workout ethic, and he hired a new trainer, a male bodybuilder. He had overcome a hurdle, and found that he could indeed push himself to his limits. Surrounded at Gold's by the kinds of physiques that he himself longed to have, he decided he wanted to put real muscle on his frame, and the logical way to do that was to hire a trainer who looked the part and had reached the very goal Gene wanted to reach.

Gene helped me understand why people hire trainers who look like they don't work out themselves: it's more comfortable for them, even if it is illogical.

Most of us would not hire a homeless guy to handle our investment portfolio, but apparently thousands of people hire trainers who can't even create an attractive body for themselves, let alone for their clients.

If you have a trainer, or plan to hire one in the future, and don't made impressive, fast progress within the first four-to-six weeks, then it's time to find a new trainer. One who knows what he or she is doing, one who looks the part, and will gently but firmly push you toward your personal best.

I've decided to be happy, because it is good for my health.
- Voltaire


  1. Great observation. I'd never had a 'personal trainer' in the gym but I'd been coached in other sports prior in my 20's.

    I talked to lots of trainers for months when i was ready to put on some muscle but none of them seemed right for me.

    I knew I found the one person I wanted to work with the minute I saw him in the gym. Just one problem. I had never seen him work with anyone else, in fact wasn't even sure that he was a trainer. He was in the gym to do his own workout and I would watch him.

    A couple things were obvious. 1) He was at least 50 years old 2) He had a better body, greater endurance and a different energy than anyone I'd seen in my gym even 20 years younger. He'd come in with his speed rope (he was a boxer) and his own heavy ball and little toys and he'd dance and skip between sets for 90 minutes. This guy never stopped moving.
    3) I never saw him do a squat nor did I see him approach anything in the same way twice. He could literally use any piece of equipment to work any body part- and always added a twist, like doing pushups on up ended bar bells. A happy combination of weights, gymnastics, speed work.
    4) I remember hanging upside down doing crunches thinking, not only am i the only girl in the free weight area but I'm a good 20 years older than anyone else I see here today. And then I'd see him jumping rope and think, thank God there is someone else in this joint with a passion and a pulse who is over 30.

    Rich is right. Pick someone who has something you want- be it physique or energy but they've got to have something you want and have the savvy to transmit it to you.

  2. Thanks for your personal experience vignette, Scarletti. In my 30s, I too decided to take it to the next level, and like you, I zeroed in on someone who never stopped moving, and who was totally focused on his a gym where many stood around and talked rather then worked out. He wasn't a trainer, but he became that for me, and started me down this road. Interesting how just walking up to the right person to say "hello" can take your life in a whole better direction.

  3. "Within a few months however, Gene's confidence soared as his physique transformed due to his new eating regimen and workout ethic, and he hired a new trainer, a male bodybuilder."

    I don't understand this. If he was making progress with the first trainer he hired, why did he change? It sounds like she was a great trainer for your friend.