Samantha Rea | Contributing Writer | Saturday, 18 April 2015

Things You Only Know If You\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\'re A Personal Trainer

Things You Only Know If You're A Female Personal Trainer

The Debrief: You get hit on by married clients. A Lot.

As a personal trainer you see a lot of things that make you despair, like guys doing press-ups that look more like planks (chest to floor, guys), people attempting to train on diets that wouldn’t sustain a stick insect, and people throwing up mid workout. Oh, and in bars I spend a lot of time having my triceps grabbed and my ass jabbed, as if a trainer’s body is instantly available for public prodding. Here are some other things you only know if you’re a personal trainer… 

Everyone wants to tell you what they’ve eaten...

...and frankly, I wish they wouldn’t. Aside from an unfaltering lack of interest in the dietary habits of strangers, their choices drive me to despair. A guy once proudly told me he’d eaten pasta with tomato sauce for dinner. I failed to grasp why this was such great news and he said it was ‘Only x number of calories!’

I had to mask my weariness at explaining that I don’t think of food in terms of calories – I think about its nutritional value. Where was his source of protein? Where was the fresh veg? This wasn’t someone living on the breadline, it was a very wealthy, well-educated guy and unfortunately, this kind of exchange is not unusual.

I’m happy to discuss a client’s diet, as most PTs are – but don’t overestimate our interest. I went to dinner with a guy who photographed everything he ate, WhatsApping the pictures to his trainer. It was gone 10 o’clock on a Friday night so I think there’d be messages more welcome than a picture of his client’s cod. If my phone’s flashing late on a Friday night, I’m expecting something totally different to an update on my client’s main course. 

Jockstraps are actually a thing 

Having worked in an all-male gym, I’ve seen more grey elastic bordering men’s buttocks, than my eyes can ever unsee. If you’re not familiar with jockstraps, the idea is they support men’s balls, in the way a bra supports women’s breasts. Only, for some unfathomable reason, they do this leaving the bum bare. Maybe it’s for minimalism, maybe it’s to keep cool. One theory is, they ‘provide quick access should an evacuation of the bowels be in order’ (which, incidentally, is a side-effect of exercise). 

In the private members’ club where I worked, jock straps were provided along with club issue white T-shirts and shorts, through which the men’s bottoms were visibly framed by the communal jock straps, grey with age, having supported generations of sweaty sacks. Bleugh. 

You get hit on by married clients. A lot. 

Having had a high number of male PT clients, I can say with assurance that the absence of a wedding ring is no sign he’s single – and if he is wearing one, it’s no sign he won’t stray. One PT client stroked my legs while I took him through his stretches. Another, in his eighties, begged to kiss my feet. He called me his goddess and asked if he could worship me. I assumed it was in jest, but once when I was changing my trainers, he grabbed my feet and rubbed them, then sat there sniffing his hands.

A client in his fifties sent me suggestive texts: ‘How about a late drink! I have nothing appropriate in mind...’ Coming back from New York, he said he’d bought me ‘very, very naughty things’ and invited me round for, ‘champagne and bj’. A good-looking guy in his thirties who was married with three children, laid it on the table – he wanted me to train him, he said, ‘but I’d also want to fuck you.’

Men are far vainer than women

We all want to look good, but men take their appearance seriously. When I’ve trained women, we’ve worked hard, had fun and gone for a drink in the bar, still sweaty. Men, on the other hand, will come to the gym because they’ve got a night out – in order to get pumped up first. By increasing blood flow to the muscles, cells are engorged with extra blood, which makes the muscles look bigger (incidentally, and in case you care, it’s only temporary, so don’t be fooled). 

While women often focus on their bums and tums, men are devoted to building up their biceps. One client would only ever work his guns. He’d use barbells, dumbbells and cables, doing preacher curls, concentration curls and pull-ups, all to boost his biceps. There was a book going between the trainers to see who could get him to work his legs – I don’t think anyone’s won yet.

Even the guys who did full body workouts were bicep-centric. One client asked me to measure his biceps while he flexed in front of the mirror – they were 18 inches.

Follow Samantha on Twitter @Samantha_J_Rea

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