Q and A: Dealing With Entitlement

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Q: Hey Tony. I was hoping you could give me some advice on how to get into training athletes. I’ve thought about getting into personal training for a while now, and while I think I’d love it, I also think I’d hate training fat out of shape housewives who don’t want to work. I just never want to be one of “those” trainers. I’d love to train with people who have a desire to improve themselves, and to help them reach their goals, all while making a living at it. Anything from formal education to certifications, etc would be very helpful. Thanks

I don’t know if it’s something in the water, but it seems I can’t go a week without someone emailing me asking how (s)he can get into the fitness industry. For the record, I’m more than willing to help and offer some insight- elated in most cases! In fact, I’m often humbled that anyone would turn to me for such sage advice. I mean lets be honest, I can’t even decide on which Jessica I’d let date me (Alba or Biel), let alone offer career advice to complete strangers.

Nevertheless, whenever I get these sort of emails, I try my best to point them in the right direction. Which is to say, I generally tell them to steer clear of the following:

  • Muscle rags
  • Tracy Anderson
  • Anything and everything dealing with The Biggest Loser
  • BOSU balls
  • Smith machines
  • Any diet Oprah endorses
  • The Bender Ball
  • Personal trainers who still use body-part splits
  • Anyone who uses the term “functional training” as a selling point
  • Oh, and gonorrhea.

All kidding aside (hint: I’m not really kidding), as much as I’d like to help out the young lad above, I have to admit that this particular email rubbed me the wrong way. It’s apparent to me that many new trainers coming into the industry have an overwhelming sense of entitlement. Whether it’s complaining about working long hours, or thinking that they don’t actually have to train people (but can make their money writing lame e-books instead), it often amazes me how naive these trainers can be.

I remember listening to Mike Boyle speak once, and he told a story of an intern showing up on day one and asking when he would be able to train Mike’s professional athletes. Hahahahahahahaha. Riiiiigggghhhtttt. Who wants to bet that that same intern was stuck teaching twelve year olds how to foam roll for an entire month?

I want to train athletes, not fat, out-of-shape housewives who don’t want to work.

Let me ask you this:

1. What are the three external rotators of the rotator cuff?

2. Which is the only hip flexor that functions above 90 degrees of hip flexion?

3. You have a baseball player with GIRD (Gleno-humeral Internal Rotation Deficit), how are you going to fix it? Furthermore, what is the significance of testing GIRD in the first place?

4. You have a basketball player with a chronic case of anterior knee pain- what “red flags” are you going to look for?

5. What are the three main functions of the rectus abdominis? I’ll give you the easy one- trunk flexion.

6. What energy system is primarily being utilized during bouts of exercise that last under 20 seconds?

7. Which is not an actual muscle: quadratus lumborum, rhomzipidus, lumbricalis, plantaris, serratus anterior, or the longissimus? The picture below shows one of them- can you name it?

8. Can you explain to the average person why there is no such thing as a “fat burning zone?”

9. Someone comes to you with lower back pain- how can you tell whether it’s flexion based or extension based?

10. If you have bills to pay, are you really going to deny clients- even the so called fat, out-of-shape housewives whom you presume won’t work?

11. Honorable mention: How can one man (i.e- me) have all the answers to life’s biggest questions? Such as How much would would a wood chuck chuck if a wood chuck could chuck wood?*

Honestly, if you can’t answer any of the questions above, you have no business training anyone, let alone athletes. And lets drop the sense of entitlement. I mean, I could sit here and say how much I want to train the New England Patriot Cheerleaders, but it’s probably never going to happen. Freakin restraining order!

I’m not saying it’s wrong for you to want to train athletes-I think that’s awesome, and a great goal to shoot for. But it stands to reason you’re going to have to “earn your stripes,” and work with a wide variety of clientele in the meantime. Who’s to say that working with out-of-shape housewives is a bad thing? Some of my best clients are housewives. Besides, I can think of just as many athletes with piss poor work ethics as all the housewives you claim aren’t worth your time.

However, because I don’t want this post to be completly devoid of anything useful, here’s what I would suggest:

1. Read, and read often. Check out mine and Eric’s recommended resources pages- you’ll find plenty of stuff to read that will make you better. Side Note: the link to my page will take you to my very incomplete new website that will hopefully be done in 1-2 weeks.

2. Find a mentor or someone who offers internships. I can’t stress enough how important it is that you observe as many professionals as possible- particularly ones who have the same philosophy as yourself. Additionally, most college strength and conditioning programs are more than willing to allow you to come in and observe for a day. My only piece of advice here is that you have two ears, two eyes, and one mouth. Use them in that order. As well, show up looking like a professional. Showing up un-shaven, with a Budlight t-shirt on isn’t going to bode in your favor when trying to make a good first impression.

3. Work with as many different people as possible. It might not be as “sexy” to train the overweight lawyer who complains everytime you make him squat, but the value you’ll get from interacting with a wide variety of clientele will only make you a better trainer in the long run. Being a personal trainer is just as much about being a “people person” as it is getting your clients results. Half the time, people just want someone to hang out with and to listen to them talk about their kids.

4. Attend as many seminars and conferences as you can. Perform Better travels all throughout the country and is easily a cut above the rest in regards to the quality of presenters they have. While dropping upwards of $200-$300 for a conference seems daunting, you can’t think of it as an expense. Rather, it’s an investment- in yourself.

5. Did I mention you need to read?

6. Stop being an a-hole. You’re not that special. Put the time in, and good things will happen.

* Answer= Magic!

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Plus, get a copy of Tony’s Pick Things Up, a quick-tip guide to everything deadlift-related. See his butt? Yeah. It’s good. You should probably listen to him if you have any hope of getting a butt that good.

I don’t share email information. Ever. Because I’m not a jerk.

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