Narcissism: As the Flower Blooms, it Blooms from the Inside
This is a post from one of our coaches and certified personal trainers Evan Fox:
What is a personal trainer? I know your first thought. It’s of a bodybuilder ripped with veins doing a bicep curl. This somewhat makes sense. It’s the image we often see in magazines. If you had one person you could pick to train you, would it be the guy in the back of the gym or the guy in front of the mirror?
In reality, this is a choice between the overly confident narcissist and the introverted or shy. This could also be explained as a need for attention. Sometimes the shy guy in the back knows more. As I look back, I fell into the narcissism trap. All kinds of excuses run in my head; one of which was that I was in my 20’s. I was young and dumb. You also run into the competition mindset. Whether it be for stage or sales. And, honestly, it did help with sales. I was lean and muscular and many clients told me they wanted to look like me. Fortunately, other gifts I was given never let me dive into narcissism too deeply.
As a child, my dad always talked about the warrior poet. Being of mind and body. Greek God mixed with philosophy. Morals and matter. What most around me didn’t know is that I loved the arts. I played instruments and painted. That would be something of a weird calling for someone in the physical craft. While I did continue these arts, I do feel I lost the poet inside of the warrior. We, as personal trainers, are surrounded by ourselves and like minded people. While most look at us as tools for further gains, some see themselves as just that. I hold sacred and feel privileged to have had the mentors in personal training that I have had. Most of whom, not only knew their craft but were also very intelligent outside the physical realm.
My concern is the narcissism that runs rampant. Whether it’s for client or trainer. Bottom line…exercise has to mean more than this. Exercise has to be more than an exertion-result ratio! On many levels, exercise gives us a further understanding of self. This comes about through several circumstances. Understanding the limitations given and limitations available, we understand the gifts we are given. Secondly, spiritually we are “free” in any sense of the word. If you don’t believe, just ask an athlete with a runners high. At last, our words tend to reveal our true intentions. Much of the industry preys on the sales of the New Year.
I ask myself, what am I selling? As a client, you have to be concerned with someone constantly feeling the need to “advertise” themselves. With circumstances today, the advertisement has a broad meaning. It could be how someone talks. Do they always say “I” or make the focal point of conversation about themselves? With social media, are they constantly taking pictures of themselves? Does their website show multiple pictures of their “hero” physique? Are they constantly looking at themselves in the mirror? Furthermore, how do they treat people? Are you a sale, a prize, or just another advertisement? A sad reality is that you can take a test for $200 and be certified to train tomorrow. Monkeys have also flown for NASA. Regulation in what is truly “capable” hasn’t been established.
This brings about my next question. What are you paying for? Well, what are you wanting? More importantly, what are you needing? Motivation, Encouragement, Education, or Physique? Of course, people hire me for these things. But, I also find that people are needing to be listened to. Which makes me question how much they are being listened to elsewhere. I often joke with my clients by saying, “I’m not only your personal trainer, but I’m also your psychiatrist.” Client-trainer relationship is a very personal relationship. We don’t just sit between sets and count down the time until the next set. Having said that, the client should believe and understand that the feeling is mutual. And, for me, it is an unbreakable bond. I dedicate myself and care for my clients.
This mindset should be at the forefront of what it means to train. Of course, other variables come into play in determining the right trainer for you. But, if you start with a trainer who cares for “you,” it only opens the door and possibilities for progression. I think that, in order to fix some of the issues I see with the fitness industry, we need to change a couple different avenues that lead to our mindset. First, we have to get rid of the idea that “anybody can do this job.” That mindset runs into the idea that something in the physical realm isn’t as important as the “intellectual realm” or “a desk business” job. Or, simply, that it is easily done. Moreover, it must be perfectly clear that it’s a science. Only the educated, in that science, should be here. Both these ideas would help in getting rid of the “personalities” we see in the industry. “Personalities” that are purely based on money and greed-driven attention.
So, what have I said? Stop paying the people that only want to take care of themselves. It’s a sad truth, but the narcissists are going to be good at sales. Look for the trainer that doesn’t try to sell, but tries to guide, lead and show. Most importantly, he/she leads by ethical example.
If you would like to get in touch with Evan you can do so at firstname.lastname@example.org