A few years ago I wrote an article on the topic of ‘does your trainer train’, and let’s face it, it’s a popular subject in the health & fitness industry today, and rightly so. I aimed this first article at Personal Trainers and fitness professionals who practice what they preach (or who don’t, as the case may be) when it comes to training.
Many years in the industry, many conversations with clients and ‘health’ professionals, and many courses later, this question has a much more profound and deeper meaning for me than it once did, and I have found myself asking time and again:
‘How important is it that we truly practice what we preach?’
Personally I think it is extremely important!
I expect the same of myself as I do of my clients, and like to think I practice what I preach:
- I enjoy movement. I enjoy exercise. I train heavy. I train light. I train slow and fast. I use basic compound lifts. I use movement-based exercises on multi planes. I ‘switch-it-up’ often and enjoy different activities. I walk. I do a little yoga. I try new things….just like I advise my clients to do!
- I don’t try (or need) to out-train a bad diet by going to the gym 20 times a week. Instead I follow the ‘80/20’ rule and make sure that 80% of the time I eat a ‘healthy’ diet. The remaining 20% of the time I have a pint, or a dessert, go out for a meal or have a night out. I tell my clients that good nutrition isn’t about NEVER eating certain foods but instead is about finding a balance which works to achieve their health and physique goals, but also never (or at least rarely) feels like a struggle. And this is exactly how I behave myself – I don’t eat perfectly all the time but I have found a balance that helps me to feel healthy, vital, motivated and full of life and happiness.
- My clients come to me wanting to ‘lose weight’, ‘look better’, ‘feel better’ and ‘move better’. And when I encourage them to make changes to their diet and exercise habits, I do so knowing that the changes I’m asking them to make are the same ones that I implement myself, and are the same ones that have given me the physical and mental well-being I enjoy today – I have a balanced mind and physique that I am proud of. I am pain free. I enjoy unrestricted movement and my body works well, inside and out.
Okay, so what am I waffling on about I hear you ask? As I mentioned at the beginning of this article, over the years I have been on many courses, had conversations with many clients and trainers and have gained a lot of experience (I hope!). And over this time I have always been amazed at the sheer number of health professionals (at all levels and areas of the industry) who are NOT healthy or enjoying robust vitality, good movement and a pain free existence!
- I have seen fat loss experts who are overweight or have excessive bodyfat levels.
- I have seen performance and rehab specialists who do not move freely and have all sorts of problems with their feet, knees, hips, back and shoulders.
- I have seen chiropractors with back pain and doctors who take numerous medications and smoke.
And the list goes on…and on….all the way up the chain.
Take a look yourselves at many of the people who run the governing bodies of the industry and ask yourself if they actually look healthy, eat quality nutrition or exercise regularly…you might be surprised by what you observe.
Now, I understand that none of us are perfect, and I certainly am not. I also don’t think we should all have to behave like robots just because we work as health, fitness and well-being professionals – we are only human after all. However, surely to a certain extent we should be what our clients want us to help them become, we should behave as we ask them to behave, and we should be a living, breathing advert for what we do. Not because we have to be, but because we want to be.
Shouldn’t we be living (or trying to live) a balanced and healthy, vital life, using all the skills and knowledge that we have accumulated to enhance and inspire our, and other peoples lives?
Isn’t that why we got into this industry in the first place?
And that leads me to the big question:
‘If we are not healthy ourselves, can we truly inspire health in others’?
Steve Wileman. Director of Movement. TWS Wellness Ltd. Hull, E Yorks.