There is a draft of a post sitting in the list of drafts called “That Time I Almost Quit…” I can’t finish it yet. Something happened that should have derailed me. When I can finish that post, I’ll have to figure out how to describe just how deep I had to dig not to give up and walk away. Most would have. It’s been four years, but the pain, anger, and betrayal just aren’t ready to be shared here. Thought it was. I started it, but had to stop. Not yet. But I want to believe it was a painful blessing. Let me see if I can share what I learned…
- There are “predator” trainers/coaches out there who only want your money. They do not care enough to learn about best practices. They care only about getting people “stage-ready” in a short time frame. Get the pictures. Get more clients. Never mind that they use methods that do harm. Some have no idea how the body works, or don’t care, so out come the recommendations to take drugs (legal and illegal). They will convince you that you can’t reach a goal naturally. They are ego driven – successful clients are PR for them and clients who logically struggled are blamed for being “lazy” or for “cheating” on their diets.
- There are trainers/coaches out there who aren’t as heartless, but still don’t really know what they are doing when it comes to healthy weight loss, much less contest prep. They might be a bit controlling and expect clients to use restricted food-lists. They may demonize certain foods and make eating a cookie sound like a catastrophe and make you feel like a failure. Food-shaming, body-shaming may be a part of it. They are inflexible. They won’t modify a program to work with a client’s life. In fact, all clients might be doing the same thing – no attempt to individualize. Also ego-driven. They know more than you and make sure you are reminded of it frequently.
- There are inexperienced trainers/coaches who might be more flexible, but they don’t know how to interpret what is happening with their clients. They fall back on their own experiences until they have worked with enough people to learn more. If they are open-minded, they will probably be amazing coaches at some point and are worth the time, if you are so inclined.
- There are a few trainers/coaches who are always building their knowledge base, use a combination of science and experience when working with their clients. They know which variables in a program can be widely applied and when to individualize. They put health first. They put the person first.
When I chose to work with the wrong person, it ended badly. My ability to trust a trainer/coach was destroyed. I haven’t hired a personal trainer since then. Took about six months before I would work with a prep coach and that was just to get ready to compete. It’s similar to having a therapist turn on you, I guess. I trusted that person when I was the most vulnerable – at rock bottom health-wise and just started to work towards the big, scary goal of becoming a bodybuilder at age 50.
I’m in a good situation now with an online coach, but I had to watch the 3DMJ coaches for a year through social media and YouTube before I contacted them. It took me two years to get to a point where I can trust him completely. Even so, I can feel at times that there is still a part of me steeling for another kick in the teeth. That feeling has nothing to do with him. It comes from the past. If I ever find words to finish that draft, you’ll understand.
So what’s the big take-away? I can honestly say I knew that guy wasn’t committed to my success, but I ignored it. Thought it would all work if I worked hard. And I’m a hard worker. Now I tell people to trust their gut and make a change quickly. A good coach/athlete relationship will include making long-term health a priority, there will be flexibility, and they will be eager to teach you something new in each interaction. You should be learning why you are doing things a certain way. I’ve learned enough working with Berto that I could do many things on my own. I choose not to. He still has many things to teach me. He also does most of the “bodybuilding thinking” for me. I can relax and follow directions. I don’t second guess anything. He provides structure and accountability so my mental focus can be on the other parts of my life that are more important – being a wife and a teacher.