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I have been around the world a few times thanks to the fitness industry.  I have presented at and attended all manner of fitness conferences where a personal trainer could be found and spoken with.  At the risk of categorizing my own industry, two main kinds of people are becoming personal trainers nowadays.  It seems to me that the modern personal trainer tends to fall into one of two categories.  The ‘nice guy’ or the ‘oppressor’.

I started thinking about it after watching this VERY funny video titled:  “fitness made difficult”


Now personally, I like the ‘nice guy’ approach from fitness experts – I however do not deal with athletes anymore, preferring the satisfaction of helping an at home mother reclaim her sense of life than helping some gym jockey gain a few inches on his vertical jump.   That approach doesn’t always win me clients, but it is who I am and well… that’s me 🙂

The oppressor is an approach that sometimes wins better devotees (if I am being honest) I think that I see people spout volumes on certain industry gurus who present in a very ‘dominating’ manner, stating theories as if they were facts and taking the approach that anyone who might dare challenge them or (gasp) ask a question would risk having their own heart pulled beating from their chest before they had a chance to even put their hand back down.

I think part of it is human nature.  Let’s look at two very popular fitness experts and see which one is getting more press:

There’s Bob…   and there’s Jillian:

Ahh.. poor innocent Bob.  This picture was taken of him right before Jillian ate him as her 'between lunch and dinner' snack.. so young... so young.

Ahh.. poor innocent Bob. This picture was taken of him right before Jillian ate him as her 'between lunch and dinner' snack.. so innocent... so happy.

Both personal trainers actually have an equal amount of knowledge (and an amazing amount of marketing know-how!), but one of them is known for being a ball-buster and making people do things that make me want to cringe.  And not in a way that is a good cringe (is there a good cringe?) but

more in an “oh god make her stop doing that please no I can hear her kneecaps crumbling from here” kind of a cringe

Of course, if I had to say which one is winning the popularity contest?  It would be Jillian.  If I had to say which one I would rather have over to dinner?  It would be Bob – maybe because I am a nice guy too and us nice guys got to look out for each other (Bob, if you are ever in the area it would be great to connect – my wife makes a mean tofu lasagna!)

How about you?  Do you have a favorite personal trainer who is mean/nice?  Which do you prefer and why?

Would you prefer if that drill sargeant would show a hint of fragility every now and then just to remind you that there really is a person behind that whistle blowing spandex wearing exterior?

Or would you rather your nice guy personal trainer got down and gritty every now and then to let you know they meant business?

And if so, why? Something to think about, definitely 🙂

Yours in health,

Jamie Atlas

  • […] jamieatlas wrote an interesting post today onPersonal Trainers: Nice Guy vs The Oppressor Which is better b…/bHere’s a quick excerpt […]

  • janine Aug 3, 2009 Reply

    You’ll find a good balance is required when searching for the right personal trainer.

  • Jessica Feb 2, 2012 Reply

    Well, this one is easy. I am an obstinate person when someone tries to assert authority over me but will go way beyond my own comfort for anyone asking nicely.

    The best way to get me to do sweet F all is to try and boss me around so the drill sergeant approach would lead to a fatter, couch potatier – and now pissed off, vowing never to engage in any kind of exercise again – me. My gut reaction to “You have to” is “Oh, really? We’ll see about that.”

    I’m sure other people are different but that’s how it is for me. A drill sergeant may squeeze more out of me in one session but he/she has also made sure I’m going straight home to burn my running shoes.

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