We are in a bubble, mostly constrained by our chosen field of study. I mention the containment because like any bubbled habitat, few realize the waste disposed of ends up staying in what we deem a "controlled environment", essentially meaning that the landfill is in our home. We assess who enters, and we kindly show the exit to the unwanted. In any industry this practice is usually entertained by those at the top of it, as those desperate enough will take anything, and cannot afford the choice. The waste then is not those we remove, but the byproduct of those we include. Intuitively we tell ourselves we are removing the "bad seeds" in order to set standards, or just reinforce our "truths”. The pollution becomes apparent because new ideas are notwithstanding, the fallacy from antiquity. Without fresh air, new forces, or novel stimulus the recycled pollution breeds nothing of innovation. A trainer friend of mine recently remarked over social media in a cleverly rerouted adage speaking of this purge, or the practice of "firing of clients"- if you will. For whatever reasons, the practice with which I have clearly taken part in left me uneasy. There is a certain tough guy attitude in gyms, especially those being sold as "hardcore" or"extreme", this is usually having to do with the machismo regurgitated from trainer to trainee, the no pain no gain, no thought, all with an excess of hormonal secretion. We believe that our clients should do what we say, when we say it, and if they don't, show them the door. It can be touted as environmental control, playing "bad cop", setting an example, whatever the means it's practice is over-endulged. There are some whom are a waste of energy, I would never argue their existence, but from how many disparaging things are said regarding training clients, is it possible that the problem is with the one designated to help?
This question bounces around my head, I have failed in the past with clients whom I've described as impossibly difficult. I still take responsibility; even if I mumbled under my breath afterwards the excuses to exalt my performance. It could be that a enlightening of my understanding happened through a fairly new interest in training animals. The realization to the patience required in order to condition a response in a dog is surreal. And the aphorism between trainers is that there is no such thing as a "bad dog" only bad trainers. Although there are exceptions to this rule it profoundly changed my view on training people, even the thought of introducing a shock collar. How then do we, who train people lose this important step? If we cannot become what is required in order to deliver a result, then we are "warm weather practitioners". Being unable to deal with the inclement, or unknown is just as worthless as the clients unwilling to undergo discomfort in order to achieve what they initially asked for. It's hypocrisy at its best, watching a student quit, or give up, blaming their constitution, then giving up on them. We speak so frequently about the resolve necessary in order for the typical couch laden person, yet we seem to miss our own lack of resolve in the flutter of setting up our environment, or bragging about our strict “standards”. I can think of no other field that you can consult with an expert in order to improve your circumstances, and be utterly humiliated for your lack of ability, like you can in fitness. Perhaps it has to do with the education required to "coach" which is none, maybe it has to do with proving your worth, which in most financial situations of the profession is also close to none. In comparison; you would never seek out help from a CPA only to be mocked about your debt to income ratio, yet one of the most popular varieties of YouTube fitness-videos are the epic failures from those who show up to the gym, but don't quite know how to do it. This typically gets blasted on a page remarking how "stupid" people are for squatting incorrectly or using a cable machine for something other than a "chest fly". Does openly mocking someones mistakes set them up for the best odds of change?
Psychological enhancement is and will always be one of the most important steps in developing an individual; my question is then why as "leaders" of change are we generally so bad at it? Maybe it's the constant signal from our brains to find ease, and comfort throughout life. Physically, when things get difficult our first impulse is to retire. This reaction with difficult clients would make sense, and the fix is fairly easy (don't quit) and then later: don't quit. At some point you must prove (and keep proving) why those you lead should not give up, show them why you are qualified to take someone from A to B, don’t fucking quit. Or do quit, kick all those out who show any resistance to your style, but cherry picking physically capable, and mentally strong characters as clients shows little about your own character, or maybe a lot depending on your view.
Another tactic is to taunt those into submission, to use brutality and psychological warfare in order to “skim the fat”. This behavior is expressed deeply in reality shows featuring extreme weight loss. This is all fine and great; but there is a time and place, I use both tactics when, where, and if appropriate. Science disagrees with negative reinforcement as the main form of stimulus to Pavlovian discipline. So much so that the adherence for lifestyle changes in obese populations is less than 4%, the most successful being Weight Watchers. Remember that next time you want to brag about how strict you are or how tight knit your group is, it might mean you are being outperformed by a company that sells people fucking TV dinners, and lets them sit around to bitch about cupcakes being hard to avoid.
The fitness worlds likes to post memes on Instagram, and claim that “fatties” should suck it up and learn to work hard, I agree, that indeed needs to happen but the approach is different than a drill sergeant demanding change. It is now well established that under constant punishment the body does not over-come physically, or psychologically, it gets used to, and without the release, or recovery of negative stimulus the adaptation is incomplete. It is a trick, a balance, a building of relationships, an expression of trust, and of course a give and take. The days of change, and radical improvement based off of “beating” our clients into submission are over. The trainer must now be the one that adapts and uses the right means in the right form at the right time. Change happens because of hard work, consistency, an unwavering commitment, and of course the right guidance, it’s just that up till now you believed as a trainer you were excluded from these qualities.