Integrity is not a word I take lightly, however many seem like they do. I see this a lot in the fitness business. As a personal trainer, if I do not have integrity, what do I have? I have been seeing a trend that really bothers me in the field of personal training and fitness. I actually experienced it right after my own weight loss surgery and it was one of the things that propelled me to become a trainer myself.
Most of the time, when you see an ad for a fitness professional, you see a very glamorous, hard-bodied trainer who could likely pose as a swimsuit model or competitive body-builder, and they want you to think that if you sign up with them, you too can look like this!
Unfortunately, many of us fall for it hook, line, and sinker, and end up getting a real dose of reality. I cannot tell you the number of trainers who are telling people that if they only do THIS, THIS, AND THIS, then they will surely not need skin removal or have any loose skin after drastic weight loss! Oh and they will be bikini-ready by summer!
Many of these same people are working with bariatric patients and do not have a CLUE about the nutritional needs and physical differences between a regular client and a bariatric client. How many of you have been to a trainer whose idea of a great workout is working you “until you puke?” This has been a trend for the last few years among some in the fitness world. Take a look at many of the weight loss shows on TV…..the trainers are many times telling their pupils they need to keep going until they puke. I do not care what TV show you are on, or where you got your trainer certification- if you plan to work with bariatric patients you need to know that they do NOT need to be puking. it is just not healthy. PERIOD.
The skin issue really gripes me as well. I have had three of my clients in the past week come to me after working with a traditional trainer who promised them that if they just did more weight training, and just did a little bit more cardio, then that skin would snap right back into place! This is a huge issue for me because I once had a trainer right after my gastric bypass who told me these same things. Luckily I also had a surgeon who was very honest tell me the facts. I also did my own research.
How much loose skin you end up with, and where – is a combination of may factors. Age and genetics play very big roles. It is a fact of life that once you hit puberty, your body no longer produces any new elastin, which is a protein. This is why as we age we tend to get wrinkles and things tend to sort of…….droop. The younger you are when you lose weight, the easier for the skin to bounce back. IT IS NOT A GUARANTEE though, that if you lose the weight before you hit 30, that you will not have loose skin.
Collagen – another protein made by our bodies- keeps the elastin from stretching to its breaking point. HOWEVER- once the skin has stretched beyond a certain point, no amount of exercise will bring it back to the original state. Exercise can absolutely tone and can absolutely help, but to tell a client that their skin will bounce back to normal if they just exercise more is wrong and dishonest. Don’t get me wrong- for some people- thanks to their genetics and age, it will. But for many, it will not. Strength training is a very important part of your fitness routine to aid in building lean muscle mass, and in helping to tighten the loose skin but it is not a guarantee that you will be able to avoid having those dreaded “bat wings” and those tummy wrinkles. This is why we have people like Dr. Joe Michaels for those who choose to get rid of it once and for all. Dr Michaels is fellowship trained in reconstruction after massive weight loss and he is the ONLY one I will trust to do mine. Plastic surgery is the only guarantee for getting rid of loose skin. So please do not let your trainer tell you they can do it! Unless your trainer happens to moonlight as a plastic surgeon- which I highly doubt.
The next big myth is that if you just keep working out, you will look like the model in the fitness ad. For a few people, this is possible. But for most if us, the end result will be a healthier, leaner, stronger body that we can be proud of. I do NOT look like I will be sporting a bikini in Sports Illustrated next year. I have even had a few local trainers ask me if I am REALLY a trainer because I do not “look like one”……really? I had no idea that there was a specific look for a trainer. I guess I missed that part on the test. I am proud of this body. It used to look like this……
Now it can breathe without feeling sick, it can run for miles (if the crack in the back will heal), it can do cardio for over an hour at a time, it can swim laps, and it can walk with ease (okay- except for when the dang crack in the back acts up), It has won me several medals for 5ks and half- marathons, and it has allowed me to spend more quality time with my children and friends and family. It has allowed me to become a personal trainer and to spend my life helping others on their road to fitness. It has transformed me into an athlete.
Do I look like a bikini model? OF COURSE NOT! But am I fit and healthy? HELL YES!!!
Why do we pay hundreds of dollars every month to be told things that are not true? There are many AWESOME trainers out there who are good and honest and do not make promises that are unrealistic. The ones who do are the exception- not the rule. I just wish more of them who planned to work with bariatric patients really took the time to know what we need. I was recently speaking at a local support group where I was asked about a local trainer who was advertising that she was a certified bariatric trainer. I unfortunately had to inform this person that NO SUCH certification exists! Why do people do such dishonest things???? It kills me!
I get told all the time that I am CRAZY to charge only $30.00 per month for training. No I will never get rich that way and yes it takes up a LOT of time, but guess what? I get the joy of seeing my clients getting healthy and losing pounds and inches and I also sleep well at night knowing I have my integrity and that is priceless!
I have clients from all over the country through my Online Personal Training arm of The Bariatric Guru LLC. They are all amazing people who are doing great things for their health and are not spending a fortune doing it. Each client gets their own personal web page to track results and they can work out on their own time. We have an online support group, webinars about health-related topics, and they are all there to support each other and they make me proud every day! We have both bariatric and non-bariatric members who know that when they signed up with me, they got my commitment to helping them achieve their fitness goals in an honest, healthy, and realistic way. They are learning to replace old bad habits with new healthy ones and also are learning how to just try to live each day as happy and healthy as they can be.
This is our group: and to me the name speaks volumes. This is the ultimate goal for my clients: I want them all to be FIT and to be truly FLOURISHING! Come join us and see how much fun we have!
The bottom line is, If you are a trainer, you need to have integrity and help your clients as best you can without making false promises or claims. Nothing feels better to me than seeing my clients do well, and sleeping well at night!