Are You Being Mis-Sold A Transformation Training Program?

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Guilty confession time – I’m not sure if I’m completely comfortable with the concept of “transformation programs”. The term makes me a bit queasy because I associate a lot of negative connotations with it. Quick fixes. Starvation. Beating someone into the ground. Unsustainable etc etc.

BUT most “non gym” people see it as being the perfect starting point on their fitness journey since the very step SHOULD be a complete lifestyle overhaul, right? And this is my problem – you think you know what you want, but do you?

There’s a term in business, particularly the self development niche, called “ethical selling”. And it’s a lot less prevalent in the gym world than it should be.

Long story short – most of the time, the customer doesn’t REALLY know what they want. They might have a number of goals like running a marathon, losing fat, building muscle and doing chin ups. But as a coach, it’s impossible to deliver on all of those efficiently.

Hell, most of the time it just flat out doesn’t make sense and the PT just badgers the client into whatever program he’s trying to sell at that time.

Think of it this way using that example…

If someone is quite overweight (say 25%+ body fat for guys, 32%+ for gals) then the first priority must be on weight loss. And it has to be on weight loss because, well, I don’t want you dying early. I don’t care who you are – that’s just a fact.

Secondly, if you do have a lot of fat to lose, you’re never going to be able to do a chin up and you’ll break yourself training for a marathon.

Worse still, if you do try and gain muscle from a point of carrying too much body fat, all that’s going to happen is once you increase your kcal’s, you WILL gain a disproporitionate amount of fat to muscle.

Now, with the scene set – let’s imagine a few different gyms.

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-[[[—GYM 1—]]]-

You meet with your trainer on the first day and say:

“I want to lose weight, build muscle, run a marathon and do 5 chin ups”

Mr. Trainer says;

“sure thing, no problem buddy, you know what you want, let’s do that”

He starts to build your program – one day is for running, one day is bodybuilding style training for muscle, and one day is all about pull ups and back work. Since fat loss is also a goal, he sticks you on a very low calorie diet (VLCD).

Initially you probably lose a bit of weight, but then your energy plummets and you notice your knees start to hurt from all the running and your body is CONSTANTLY sore from all the training.

-[[[—GYM 2—]]]-

You meet with your trainer on the first day and say:

“I want to lose weight, build muscle, run a marathon and do 5 chin ups”

Mr. Trainer says;

“nah, you’re wrong, you can’t do that – here’s what we’re going to do”

…he then tells you about his program, what he wants you to do and doesn’t bother asking for your feedback or interaction on it. He’s probably right (tbh, he’s DEFINITELY right) but are you really going to give a shit? I doubt it. You’ll be straight out the door to go somewhere else.

He has listened to you, but has done a terrible job of communicating why he feels the approach he’s suggesting matches your needs.

Gym 2 is probably a place like this…

-[[[—GYM 3—]]]-

You meet with your trainer on the first day and say:

“I want to lose weight, build muscle, run a marathon and do 5 chin ups”

Mr. Trainer says;

“sure thing, no problem buddy, let’s start working on a plan to do that, here’s how we’re going to build towards it”

Then he starts to build your program. He explains that during the initial phase of training we’re going to do some light low impact aerobic base building, along with some specific shoulder stability work to set the stage for pull ups later on, do a general full body strength program to get your body building muscle, and make some dietary changes to lose body fat.

After that, depending on your weight of fat loss, you’ll probably move onto a pull up specialization program and some interval training.

Then, once the interval and aerobic training along with the dietary changes have paid off, you’ll focus on stacking slabs of new muscle on following a high volume bodybuilding plan (…but he notes that may have a negative effect on your recovery from your marathon training, and as much as he’d like to say there’s a magic solution, there isn’t).

…by this stage you’re probably thinking “jesus I just want an easy solution where the trainer doesn’t bamboozle me with bullshit sermons about how my body works”. So you go to gym number 4…

-[[[—GYM 4—]]]-

You meet with your trainer on the first day and say:

“I want to lose weight, build muscle, run a marathon and do 5 chin ups”

Mr. Trainer says;

“sure thing, no problem buddy, you know what you want, let’s do that” (just like trainer #1)

…and then he goes on to do things exactly like trainer #3 and doesn’t even attempt to explain why he’s doing what he’s doing with you.

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The question is… which one is the ethical salesman?

Yes.. screaming at someone. That’s great way to help them.

Your initial reaction is almost certainly going to be “number 3 obviously – he’s explained everything the client wants and told him how he was going to help him get there. He didn’t bullshit or use any slimy sales tactics.”

And I’d agree, BUT, the client still went on to trainer #4 because he didn’t understand what trainer 3 said, and was confused by all the uncertainty, conditions and terminology.

Trainer #4 told the client exactly what he wanted to hear, but will now also go on to deliver what he NEEDS.

And that, my friend is ethical selling.

I STILL find it extremely uncomfortable to think about that sort of process as being “ok” but there’s one thing I keep coming back to.

One way to reconcile telling someone what they want to hear while delivering what they really need, and it’s this;

I truly believe with every single fibre of my being that when it comes down to it, we care more about our clients, will do more to look after them, keep them safe and provide a platform for long term success, than ANYONE else.

It may take us longer to get someone going initially because we invest a lot of time in the basics, but I don’t want my gym to be judged on 6 or 12 week results. I want it to be judged on 12 month results. On 2 year results. On 5 year results.

Before closing out of this blog post – I want you to stop and consider something.

With all this confusion of what a trainer SHOULD be telling you – who’s at fault?

Is it the trainer who won’t just give it to you straight?

The media for setting up unrealistic expectations of what’s possible?

Is it your fault for believing it all even though you’re a smart person who knows better?

I have my own ideas, but I don’t want to cloud your opinion.

What would be cool though is if we met up for a free personal training session where we will take you thru our assessment process, explain to you where you lie on our hierarchy of development, and explain how our plan will fit your goals WITHOUT confusing you or making you follow the program WE think is best.

Booking it is easy – just check it our here: http://www.revolutionfitness.ie/pt-intro

James Hanley

Strength Coach. Performance Specialist. Dog Lover. Powerlifter. And the guy behind the scenes in RevFit that keeps the plates spinning.