Mickey Z. -- World News Trust
Nov. 6, 2016
The first line of the book, Becoming a Personal Trainer for Dummies, reads as follows: “When it comes to choosing a career, unless you're a masochist, you probably want to do something that you enjoy.” For me, becoming a personal trainer was far more accident than choice… an accident that remains in progress for decades.
I guess I should tell you: I dislike alarm clocks. You see, I’m a fervent believer in sleeping until your body tells you to wake up. It’s only natural. So, you can probably hypothesize how I feel this morning when my alarm blares at 4:45 a.m.
Jolted into a rigid, upright position, I make a mad and desperate dash to lessen the time I have to endure the ghastly droning of my alarm bell. Each time the alarm sounds at 4:45am, I’m reminded that this early morning jolt is the starting gun for another episode of Subservient Theater and it is with relish that I silence the clock’s howl.
Still, my glorious moment of sweet release is immediately marred by the fact that I must turn the alarm back on in order for it to ring once again tomorrow morning. If I neglect this regrettable little chore, I might forget to reset it later and that’ll result in me oversleeping. Speaking of chores, let’s not forget to immediately check e-mail to see if any clients have canceled.
Despite my dreams of literary glory, I’ve spent much of my life making the affluent sweat and mine is the first generation of trainers to age on the job. Suddenly, I’m spending extra time with my razor each morning to make sure all hints of gray is gone from my face -- and my clean-shaven head. Heaven knows, no one wants a trainer who looks old and tired… even if that’s precisely how you feel as you start walking to the subway before 6:00 a.m.
On the Quackwatch website, Donald Evans, B.Sc. (yes, he actually put those letters after his name) declares: “First and foremost, a professional trainer should have a bachelor's, master's or doctoral degree in exercise science, kinesiology, exercise physiology, physical education, sport management, or something similar.”
(Strike one for yours truly. I didn’t even move the bat from my shoulder.)
Evans continues: “Proper training requires somewhere between 2,000-3,000 hours of in-class instruction, many exams and research papers, as well as much outside studying and writing. A normal time frame for completion is between four to six years that provide a solid background in human anatomy, physiology, biomechanics, and exercise prescription techniques.”
(Strike two, but swinging. I have way more hours than that when it comes to hands-on time spent in the gym.)
Evans: “Personal trainer certification is another critical element in crafting a knowledgeable trainer.”
(I fouled that one off. I am certified by the American Council on Exercise (ACE). Also, CPR certified and I carry liability insurance.)
Evans: “Trainers with a Registered Dietitian (RD) credential from the American Dietetic Association should be able to provide in-depth nutrition advice. However, a Registered Dietetic Technician (DTR) credential or an associate or bachelor's degree in nutrition from an accredited institution of higher learning may be sufficient for providing basic dietary guidelines.”
(Swing and a miss, I’m down on strikes. But at least I’m not offering anyone the eating recommendations most DTRs hold dear.)
At my first-ever gym job, former Washington Post reporter Carl Bernstein regularly worked out with any trainer he could coerce into taking him. He supposedly never paid the club for this service -- a habit that reportedly got him into trouble at a downtown gym some years later (talk about following the money). None of the trainers ever wanted to work with him because he would rarely talk during the entire session… unless it was to crudely inquire about female gym members.
Carl would walk up to the gym floor desk and ask me if I had time to train him. Usually, I’d say: “Only if you tell me who Deep Throat is.” Hey, it never failed to make him laugh!
Many years later, Deep Throat’s identity became known and here’s an excerpt from an article (“Deep Throat as Sideshow”) I wrote about it:
Remember, Nixon was brought down for his role in the Watergate cover-up… not for, say, war crimes in Southeast Asia or Vietnam. The adversarial (sic) press is ever at the ready to topple leaders over misdemeanors but the felony offenses remain taboo. In fact, that same lapdog press willingly plays its part in resurrecting disgraced leaders like Nixon (and turning "I am not a crook" into an enduring punch line). If Nixon had resigned after being charged with mass murder, well, perhaps his public rehabilitation might not have gone as smoothly. Watergate, Deep Throat, Woodward, Bernstein, etc. -- these are all smokescreens effectively obscuring the catalog of crime we call American History.
I like to imagine that good ol’ Carl came across this little essay while surfing thse web.
At the same gym, I had a regular client named Liz. After we’d been working together for about a year, she started law school and hence, missed some time in the gym.
A friend noticed and asked me: “Where’s Liz been?”
I instantly replied: “Portugal.”
Felt pretty damn good about myself, too.
An excellent example of the gap between this particular trainer and some of his clients occurred during the early days of the Hurricane Katrina aftermath. I had a female client on the elliptical machine, the TV was blaring, and all eyes were transfixed on the horrendous but predictable images of official indifference.
Staring at a poor black family as they waded through chest-deep water, my client blurted out: “I don’t understand. Why didn’t they just leave?”
There was just enough smugness in her voice to irritate me but I stayed calm, replying: “Most of them couldn’t leave.”
Unconvinced, she declared: “I would’ve gotten in my car and gone to stay in a hotel or something.”
I swallowed deeply. “Many of those in New Orleans are very poor.”
“I know, but why would you stay there if you know a hurricane is coming?”
Before I could respond, someone walked into the gym and broke the tension. We went on with our workout while the people in New Orleans went on with their wading.
(stay tuned for more trainer stories soon)
Mickey Z. is currently writing two books, a memoir called How to Lose Friends & Influence Nobody: My Life as an “Activist,” and a fusion novella entitled stain red. In the meantime, he can be found here.
Scenes from an accidental career: My life as a personal trainer (part 1) by Mickey Z. is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.
Based on a work at http://worldnewstrust.com/scenes-from-an-accidental-career-my-life-as-a-personal-trainer-part-1-mickey-z.