I recently came across my "mug shot", taken 6 years ago, when I first started my own franchised business as a Personal Trainer (PT) in the Fitness Industry in a large gym.....
Reflecting back, I thought to share 6 LIFE lessons I have learnt in 6 years, not to be confused with the Kiwi pronunciation of "6" !
1. I CAN ONLY HELP THE ONES WHO WANT TO BE HELPED:
Probably the hardest lesson I learnt in my initial years....
I knew people who had a number of "lifestyle" diseases such as heart disease, diabetes type 2, osteoporosis, chronic inflammation etc. and I told them till the cows came home that exercise and correct nutrition would greatly reduce most of their health problems (& pills), but they refused to change.... And I met others who drank a bottle of wine (or whisky!) a day, smoked 2 packs, ate absolute junk and expected to get a great physique.
Lesson learnt - It took me years to understand that we can only help the ones who WANT to be helped... it did not matter how badly I wanted their health to improve, they had to be willing to DO something about it. And the life lesson has been we cannot change people, they have to make the change within.
2. TIME, MONEY AND AGE ARE JUST EXCUSES:
CEO's, with 4 kids, 5 pets, multiple mortgages, long hours in the office & work related travel still make the TIME to exercise and never cancel on me. I've also had clients who were studying and working part time, earning very little, but always found the MONEY for Gym membership, Personal Training and fresh nutritious food. And I had clients who were well into their 60's and 70's, having never done any exercises before, suffering from a multitude of physical restrictions due to various ailments & AGE, but decided that it's never too late to get stronger.
Lesson learnt - People make the time, spend the money & put in effort for the things that are important to them.
3. ARCHITECT - "WOW", but PERSONAL TRAINER ... "WHATEVER"
Indian kids are usually given only a few career choices i.e. doctor, accountant, engineer etc. So, after 5 gruelling years in University, when I graduated as an architect and then went on to work on some large projects with big name architectural firms in Dubai (wayyy before the financial meltdown, it's all over now!), people said I had a “successful career". Sitting at a desk or in meetings for 12 hours/day minimum, in an indoor AC environment, eating at my desk without being mindful, hunched over my drawings and computers, leading a sedentary life in a stressful work environment, spending 3 out of every 4 weekends in the office working... Heck, even I thought I was headed in the right direction, up that corporate ladder!
But when I decided to change careers, follow my passion and become a PT, this was often looked down upon by friends & family who were close to me....
“When are you going back to architecture?”
“Anyone with good muscles can become a PT, nothing great in that”
“When are you going to get a real job?”
“How can you give up architecture, you studied for 5 years”
“Is there any money in yoga?”
Well, running my own Fitness business, working with clients I genuinely like, in fresh air, amongst nature, moving and being active, helping change people's lives for the better, working the hours that suited me, I have learnt to ignore the voices on the outside, and follow the voice within.
As I've seen the spectacular transformations of my clients, and how I've played a part in helping save their lives against chronic lifestyle diseases, I know my work here on Earth is done....I would much rather be “just a Trainer”, than an architect.
Lesson learnt - Don't listen to people's perception of what "success" is, many of who themselves have completely unbalanced lives! Follow your instinct.
4. LEARNING THE BALANCE between EFFORT & LETTING GO:
As a kickass trainer who found great joy in getting my clients to do Burpees and Beep Tests, I thought "Yoga was for lazy people".
My first blog was inspired by this, check it out.
But since the life-changing Yoga Teacher Training I completed in Bali, I have realised that it’s all a balance.
- Intense exercise needs to be balanced out with yoga. (Like me on Facebook for tips on exercise AND yoga)
- Food deprivation needs to be balanced out with the occasional treats. (Same, FB me)
- Our pursuit of the “perfect body” needs to be balanced out with a loving self acceptance of the same body. (Download my free #16weekstobikini guide)
- Our feeding frenzy needs to be balanced out with mindfulness, in each bite we consume (Written a blog on this too)
- Our desire to be “successful’ in our lives and careers need to be balanced with “Giving back, and being Grateful” (Got multiple blogs for this one, must be my pet subject)
- And sometimes, gently telling my clients, that all they can do is commit to looking after their health and bodies...everything else will happen in due time.
Lesson learnt - Don't judge myself or others, everyone runs their own race in their own time
5. CONTINUED PURSUIT OF KNOWLEDGE:
When I finished architecture I promised myself I was never going to study again.
But then of course I did, to get my PT Qualifications. Plus many further qualifications to keep up with this $30.3 billion health, wellness and fitness industry. (Did someone ask if there’s any money in this industry?)
One of my pet rants is when I see another Trainer doing exercises (such as Kettlebells, TRX, Boxing etc) with their clients when they are not even certified to! It can lead to serious risk of injury to the client and perpetuates the myth that if you have good biceps, you can be a Personal Trainer!
I do like good biceps though...
Lesson learnt - Keep learning! We can either be "green & growing" or "ripe & rotting".
6. BE INVOLVED:
When a client first comes to me, they are in an extremely vulnerable state. They share their deepest fears or regrets, acknowledging where they need to improve. They share their (seemingly impossible) goals, sometimes they don’t even share with their spouses or best friend, because they don’t believe it is possible for them to lose 10,20,30 kgs. They know they need to do something dramatic and different to get the results they are after. I start them on new habits, try new things, give up old behavioural patterns, attempt new exercises and embrace new ways.
So many PT's don’t get emotionally involved with their client’s goals – they just make them workout hard and wave them goodbye until the following session.
Lesson learnt - I found that DAILY accountability and communication, being fully INVOLVED in my client’s journey, encouraging them through their low’s and celebrating their high’s has led to some of the best experiences of my life. It made me aware of the vast reservoir of human strength & determination and made my life & career fulfilling, by crossing paths with so many who put their most valuable asset in my hands - their health.
My most sincere gratitude to ALL my past and current clients; to every single one of you I have ever trained, thank you for the opportunity to train you and for allowing me to be a part of your journey. And an extra special thank you to my mentor & "Fitness First Gym" PT manager, Daniel Lee*... the best teacher I have ever had the pleasure of learning from!
(* Eye Surgeon who gave it all up to become "just a PT")
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