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Exercise! Love it or hate it, let's motivate each other to just DO IT!

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Old 10-02-2007, 02:17 PM   #1
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Default Would you hire an overweight personal trainer?

Ok, here's a good question...

Would you hire an overweight personal trainer? By overweight, I mean someone who needs to lose 50 lbs or so, or less.

I'm asking because I want to become a personal trainer. I have looked at many options for training and have chosen one to go with. I also need to lose about another 50-70 lbs at least. I am currently 233 lbs and look a bit less. If I lose 70 lbs, that will take me to 163 lbs, which on me, will probably still look good. My ultimate goal is to get to 145 - 155. I am 5 foot 7 inches.


If I start studying now, to become certified, I will certify within the next 3-6 months. I may or may not be at my goal at that time. Probably not quite there. Therefore, I will still be overweight. At my highest weight, I weighd 285 lbs. I am now 233 and continuing to lose. So, I have a healthy lifestyle and I am eating right. I am just not at goal weight yet.

I want to work mostly with people who are overweight like I am/(was) and /or also have other challenges, such as fibromyalgia, etc. (as I have it)

If I were a certified trainer, and still overweight when I get certified, do you think anyone would hire me? Would you? Or would you want a trainer that is buff, cut, etc?

Personally, I would hire "me" as I would think that someone like me would understand more on what challenges are involved in losing weight and getting fit.

What do you all think?

Maybe I should just wait until I lose all the weight, then get certified? Or, go ahead and do it now while I continue on my journey?

I also believe that studying to certify to be a personal trainer would be a huge motivating factor for me to do what I need to do. Plus, I could learn so much to help myself.

Thanks!
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Old 10-02-2007, 02:24 PM   #2
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Maybe I should just wait until I lose all the weight, then get certified? Or, go ahead and do it now while I continue on my journey?
Why wait? Certainly there is no reason to put off training to be a trainer if that is what you want to do. IMO, if I were in need of losing a lot of weight and I had the opportunity to work with someone who had "been there, done that" or even was "still doing it" I wouldn't hesitate.
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Old 10-02-2007, 02:40 PM   #3
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Yes, I would hire an overweight trainer, a skinny chef, a doctor who smokes and go to an esthetician with acne. Just because a person has knowledge and ability doesn't mean they have to be *perfect* (whatever THAT means!) themselves.

On the plus side, an overweight (but active, progressively more fit and knowledgeable) trainer would be able to know from personal experience, the many issues a larger person may face with fitness and health.
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Old 10-02-2007, 02:44 PM   #4
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Definitely!! I would be much more comfortable with someone of my "shape" than an incredibly tiny trainer, who probably couldn't understand why I could only do 3 push ups!!!
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Old 10-02-2007, 03:07 PM   #5
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I agree with alinnell--why wait? Getting the certification is only going to help you get to your goal. To me that is reason enough to do it, regardless of whether or not anyone will hire you as a their trainer. And when you do get to goal, you'll be certified and ready to take on clients.

The trainers at my gym are a range of body shapes and sizes. Some are totally buff, others are a little above their ideal weight, one is pregnant, and one is definitely in the overweight category. I think I am thinner than at least a couple of them. And even my trainer, who is one of the buff ones, is always either trying to lose weight or gain weight. None of the trainers seem to have trouble getting clients. I did not choose my trainer because he is buff; I was assigned to him somewhat randomly and I stick with him because he is an awesome trainer, buff or not.

For me, and I think for most people, your knowledge, the attention you pay to me, and how good a workout you put me through is more important than your weight/body shape.

There's also the matter of perception. When I was at my highest weight, someone that was only 10 or 20 lbs above their goal would not have looked overweight to me, especially if they worked out regularly and looked toned. So even though you may know that you still have weight to lose, your potential clients (many of whom may have a lot more weight to lose) may not perceive you as being overweight. Now that I am down to a BMI of 19, I can look around the gym and see that some of the trainers could probably drop a few pounds. But when I started at a BMI of 26, I would never have thought that about any of them. I felt like such a slug and they all looked so athletic.
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Old 10-02-2007, 03:46 PM   #6
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I don't think there is any reason to wait on the certification. Especially if it will motivate you to continue to get into shape and lose the weight, I think it's a great idea.

Personally, I would not hire a trainer who was not toned and at a reasonable weight. They don't have to be totally cut, but they do need to look like healthy, active people.

There are a couple of reasons. First, I don't want somebody telling me I can do "just one more" when it's pretty obvious they can't do "just one more". I think they would lack a certain gym-cred. Secondly, I look to trainers as a motivating force. Something I can attain if I do the work and follow my nutrition plan. A trainer who looks like I do now wouldn't be much of a motivation for me.

To me it would be the same as going to see a fat nutritionist. To me it wouldn't matter how much knowledge they had. If they are trying to tell me the difference between good and bad fats and it's obvious they spend their lunch hour at McDonalds, then the difference between what I'm hearing and what I'm seeing is going to be too big a distraction for me.

Ideally your knowledge base should be the important thing. But if you are going to enter a field based on fitness and appearance then I think you'd have to expect a certain amount of resistance from people and probably gym management as well.
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Old 10-02-2007, 03:50 PM   #7
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Personally, I would hire "me" as I would think that someone like me would understand more on what challenges are involved in losing weight and getting fit.
I would hire you too. And I agree with the others who say, Why wait? Go for it !
Having a job like that whould also increase your abillity to maintain your loss when you reach your goal.
Having a realy buff, super-hot "perfect" trainer would make me feel selfconcious.

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Old 10-02-2007, 03:59 PM   #8
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You say your trainers need to "look like healthy, active people". Does this mean that you want them to BE healthy or just look like it? Do you screen your trainers to ensure they don't smoke or eat at McDonalds?

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To me it would be the same as going to see a fat nutritionist. To me it wouldn't matter how much knowledge they had. If they are trying to tell me the difference between good and bad fats and it's obvious they spend their lunch hour at McDonalds, then the difference between what I'm hearing and what I'm seeing is going to be too big a distraction for me.

Do you really think this way? I am saddened by that kind of bias, as it is harmful to us as women and especially as fat women, who have become fat through various ways, not just over eating or eating the wrong foods.

Not all fat people eat at McDonalds (I never have...just check out my food logs in the "Vegetarian" and "Vegan" threads. I eat healthier than anyone I know much of the time and my nutritionist and doctor agree).
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Old 10-02-2007, 04:04 PM   #9
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To me it would be the same as going to see a fat nutritionist. To me it wouldn't matter how much knowledge they had. If they are trying to tell me the difference between good and bad fats and it's obvious they spend their lunch hour at McDonalds, then the difference between what I'm hearing and what I'm seeing is going to be too big a distraction for me.
I find this very offensive, as well. Many MANY overweight people eat very healthful foods, but are unable to lose weight because of medical issues.

I think you should reconsider this particular line of thought.
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Old 10-02-2007, 04:04 PM   #10
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I think there will always be some people who will not hire you because of their perceptions. If you're fit, and even at your ideal weight according to the charts, but not overly "buff," people with "uber-athlete" goals may snub their nose at you. However, if you didn't lose another ounce, there would be clients with more modest weight loss goals who would swoon at the idea of a personal trainer who wasn't too far from where they could imagine themselves being. You might have to work with much more overweight, disabled, or elderly crowd, but you'd find a niche.
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Old 10-02-2007, 04:13 PM   #11
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I think that ANY trainer is going to have people who won't hire them. I'm only comfortable working with male trainers. I've tried both, and the women just don't work for me. I can't explain why, and maybe I've had bad experiences with female trainers, but I am more motivated by and more comfortable training with males. Its nothing against women trainers, it just isn't what works for me. I care more about that, and less about the shape people are in (my last trainer was a former wrestler and bodybuilder who had gotten slightly out of shape...didn't care, he worked for me). I am the same way with massages and doctors...definite preference for males. I think I feel like women judge more and am uncomfortable with them analyzing my body.

So will there be people who would prefer another trainer over you? I'm sure there will be. But ANY trainer is going to face that, simply because people work better with one or another type of person. Its not necessarily personal OR weight based.

I say go for it! You can see the many responses from chicks here who would love to work with a trainer who is a larger size/weight than the typical.
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Old 10-02-2007, 04:19 PM   #12
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I've never hired a personal trainer, but I've gone to classes (yoga and spinning) where the instructor has a few extra pounds. I have to say I like seeing some fitness professionals in the overweight category, it shows that even those with pounds to lose can be in good physical condition and can even tach some skinny folks a thing or two.

I'd say go for it. Sure, like some people mentioned there will be people that would or would not hire you based on your appearance, but you know what they say, takes all kinds
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Old 10-02-2007, 04:20 PM   #13
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Congratulations on your wonderful weight loss success! You've come so far!

I became a personal trainer for the same reasons that motivate you. Losing weight and becoming fit so changed my life that I wanted to be able to motivate and guide others to succeed at their goals. But I had already been at goal for two years before the manager of my gym approached me about becoming certified and working there, so I was at a different stage of the journey than you are now.

I can tell you a bit about my Ballys, though I don't know how universal my experience was. When I worked there, we had about 18 certified personal trainers, about half male and half female. I was the chunkiest woman trainer, even though I wear size 4 and am in the upper teens in bodyfat &#37;. I think I got a bit of leeway because I was older and had been morbidly obese. All the other trainers, regardless of age, were in amazing shape. Some of them were competitive bodybuilders.

Would Ballys have hired me if I was overweight? Honestly, I don't think so. They're a business and want trainers who can attract clients. And what clients seem to want - regardless of their own size - is a trainer in great shape. They want to look like you! You're a walking, talking advertisement for your training skills and expertise.

I had a portfolio of certifications and courses I had taken to show prospective clients. No one cared, out of hundreds of prospective clients. They only wanted to know if I could help them look like I did -- and that's exactly what they would say to me: "You lost 122 pounds and you wear size 4 and I want to do just what you did. I want to look like you!"

It was ridiculous because the ONLY qualification that mattered to potential clients was my appearance. I was truly shocked at first because it's so superficial and wrong! But, the bottom line at my gym was that you had to walk the walk as well as talk the talk in order to get business.

Another thing to consider is your own level of fitness. To be a personal trainer, you have to know and be able to demonstrate hundreds of exercises. You have to be able to train men and women with a variety of different goals. You probably are fitter than I was, but at your weight I couldn't do a BB squat, unassisted pullup, real pushup, or correct lunge. It was difficult to balance all the extra poundage and I wasn't able to master some exercises until I was pretty close to my goal weight. We also had to pass a grueling bootcamp type workout that made many a potential trainer lose their lunch. I couldn't have done it had I been heavier. But it's just something to think about - it may not be an issue for you.

I'm hesitant to post because the last thing I want to do is to discourage you! I agree with all the other posters who are telling you to go ahead and get your certification now. You really will learn a lot that will assist you on your own personal journey!

And there very well may be gyms with head trainers and members who are more enlightened than my Ballys about qualifications,knowledge, and expertise. I recall we had a member here at 3FC who became certified and was hired at a gym even though she may have been 10 or so pounds over her ideal weight? Of course, if you set up your own business rather than working through a gym, you'd have the opportunity to market yourself to a different audience than the average gym member.

I wish you the very best in your quest!
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Old 10-02-2007, 04:29 PM   #14
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No, not all fat people eat at McDonalds and some people are fat because of medical conditions. But I believe the vast majority of overweight people are so because they eat badly and don't exercise and every single study on obesity in America will support me. My MD told me that less than 2&#37; of overweight people can blame it on medical conditions.

I don't care if my lawyer is heavy, I don't care if the guy who changes my oil is heavy, I don't care if the lady at the bank who cashes my check is heavy. Their jobs are not based on their fitness level. If a person whose job it is is to motivate me to be a more disciplined person and to elevate my fitness can't show the same discipline in their own life then I think they lack a certain credibility. Trainers are essentially playing a role. To me, they should have the physical attributes of the characters they play.
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Old 10-02-2007, 04:41 PM   #15
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Trainers are essentially playing a role. To me, they should have the physical attributes of the characters they play.
So, would you hire a person that was missing a limb or had a glass eye or was balding? What about a person who wasn't conventionally attractive but had a low body fat percentage?

I think I may start a thread on this subject because perhaps there are more people who base such things on physical appearance too, and I don't want to hijack the thread here.
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