What should a personal trainer look like? *Warning* Rant alert!

maxresdefaultI have had multiple chance encounters this past few weeks that have left me feeling puzzled, upset, confused and downright angry! It all started with my visit to see Embrace. This whole thing started off really positive, then descended into something else entirely. 


Trust me, this is well worth visiting. It could well be a film about my own life.

In brief – its a documentary made by an Australian journalist who, post baby, hated her own body and went on a fitness mission to feel better, culminating in entering a body building competition and looking amazing. But she had never felt more unhappy in her life. So she went back to her heavier self and learned how to be happy in her own skin. She then travelled the world and interviewed a lot of different people including celebrities, about what women think of themselves.

Where do I fit in?

I was obese. I lost 32kg in 2008 and got onto team GB in the sport of triathlon very soon after, having only just taken up the sport. i raced on the European and international circuit for 5 years. I travelled the world, visited countries I would never otherwise have seen, I thought I had it all. But in reality, all I did was eat sleep, work (I was still a F/T teacher) swim, bike and run. All our family holidays were racing related. I didn’t see any point in going somewhere unless I was taking a bike, wet-suit and running shoes with me.

Abruptly this ended in 2012.

A knee injury forced me to stop running. Well, it didn’t strictly speaking, but I couldn’t get the running back to team GB speed, post knee op in 2012, so I decided to quit triathlon. First it was like I lost an arm. Then, slowly it was like I got a life back. Suddenly, other things were more important than my latest run split speed, I didn’t need to get up at 5am every day and train twice a day 7 days a week. I could go for a ride JUST BECAUSE I WANTED TO. I could swim when I felt like it, not when coach said I HAD to. This was like a revelation.


Of course, I was no longer GB triathlete skinny. Don’t get me wrong – I didn’t go back to being obese, but you can tell I no longer race at that level. To begin with I was devastated. But then think. The sacrifices: (to name a few)

  • All spare waking hours were spent training, or working my day job.
  • VERY strict diet. no nights out, no beer, no deserts.
  • All holidays were triathlon related and poor hubby was either dragged along, or left behind.
  • hobbies, what hobbies. My hobbies became swimming, biking and running (plus generating sponsorship to cover the immense costs of all this)
  • I hated my day job, but no choice but to stay there, I needed it to help pay for everything else triathlon related.

And now?

I’m much more chilled, life is great, I am poorer, (no longer a teacher) heavier (than a high level athlete) but way way happier. You only live once, so you need to make sure you spend as much of that time as happy as you can. Don’t get me wrong, I swim over 10km a week, deliver several spin classes, cycle 2-3 times a week on top of that plus all the demonstrating for clients and my own strength training. I haven’t stopped, far from it. 

Can skinny make you happy.? Not necessarily.

Is skinny worth the high maintenance that comes with it? Not in my opinion!

What does a successful female look like?

I went to a women’s networking event the other week. It was actually a talk from a female politician about how she survived in a male world, largely, she said, through being incredibly resilient and not giving a toss what others thought. Her motto was always to make anything she was dealt, no matter how much she disliked it, brilliant by doing as great a job as she could.


Now there’s a thing. I bet a lot of us women could do with a bit more of that. Which takes me to my next point.

What does a personal trainer look like? 

At the event mentioned above, a lady came to talk to me. She asked me what I did, how my business was going. I gave her my usual spiel. She looked at me and said

you don’t look like a typical personal trainer.

I stood looking at her for a moment. I wasn’t quite sure what to make of what she had just said! So I asked what a typical personal trainer looked like.

Her answers represented something like this.

I promise I was diplomatic in my responses but AAAAAAARGH!!!

Does a personal trainer have to be a young skinny girl to be successful?

Does a personal trainer have to wear skimpy lycra to be successful?

Does a personal trainer look like that ALL the time – even when they are not working to be successful?

The next question I was asked was:

What did I think a could attribute my success to?

(I have been trading 18 months, having started from scratch, resigning from my well paid teaching job to effectively be redundant, now employ 2 part time staff and am about to move to bigger premises)

My answer to that? I have given this some thought, I have asked my clients and here was what they said:

  • I am real, I have been overweight, I KNOW HOW THEY FEEL, and I am not lying.
  • They can relate to me.
  • I am not a skinny wee girl
  • I get results.
  • I have fun, and make sure that they do too.
  • I care.

The personal trainer stereotype. Here comes the rant!

Man it makes me angry. I have ALWAYS been one to break the mould, in that regard I seriously can relate to the Right Honourable Minister Judith Collins. Just for the record, you CAN be ‘fat and fit’. you equally CAN be skinny and unfit. In fact I have only, to date, turned one client away and referred them to a health professional for medical clearance after their initial health screening brought up concerning results. They were not old, neither were they overweight. (Plus, they didn’t gain clearance from their doctor, I do hope they went on to sort out their medical problems as I never saw them again.)

My motto in life is to be functionally fit and healthy, well enough to enjoy life and all the things that it offers. And in that, there also has to be laughter. If there wasn’t that, why the hell would you bother to carry on?

Rant over.


2 Comments on “What should a personal trainer look like? *Warning* Rant alert!

  1. Great blog and I totally agree with you! I am a PT, not skinny, don’t wear skimpy Lycra outfits BUT I know what I am talking about and how to get my clients the body they want! I find it so stereotypical that a PT should look like the images you have posted in your blogs nd it makes me angry and sad….. so thank you for your blog!

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