Realising fitness goals: What it's like to be a personal trainer

It’s always good to have someone on your side, motivating and guiding you to achieve your goals.

Fitness instructor/personal trainer David Jones at Phase 2 Gym
Fitness instructor/personal trainer David Jones at Phase 2 Gym

For David Jones, who works as a personal trainer, providing that encouragement is all part of the job.

He runs training sessions at Phase 2 Gym near Alrewas in Staffordshire and also leads group exercise classes.

“I originally qualified as a personal trainer so that I could move on from a job that I didn’t enjoy and into a career which focused on my love of fitness.

“However, after completing all of my qualifications I covered an indoor cycle class and got the bug for group exercise. This turned out to be the best thing for me as it allowed me to establish myself in the area really quickly.

“Now the vast majority of my personal training clients have come to me from my group exercise classes wanting to progress further, says the 27-year-old.”

He always tailors his training to his client’s needs and goals and aims to keep things as simple as possible.

“There isn’t a one-size-fits-all approach, so I put together personalised programs that last between four and 16 weeks depending on the individual, their background, and their needs.

“During this process there’s always a lot of communication between us and adjustments can be made where needed.

“For people who may not have much experience on the gym floor, especially with weights, the first thing I want to be certain of is that they can safely and confidently perform the basic compound lifts – the deadlift, bench press and squat – as they regularly feature in most workout programs.

“For people who are already regular gym goers who find themselves plateauing, my first step is to establish what they’re already doing.

“From here I can put together a program that will ‘shake things up’ and get them back on track.

David at Phase 2 Gym near Alrewas

“However, the recurring priority is getting the nutritional side of the program correct. Whether this be a slight reduction in calories to help with fat loss, or a slight increase to help with gaining strength and muscle, getting the nutrition right is the pivotal detail in any plan, you can’t out-train a bad nutrition plan,” says David, who lives in Lichfield.

Motivating people, especially on days when they are finding it tough and are not really in the mood to train, is another key part of the role.

“I’m very lucky that I have regular contact with the majority of my clients outside of our one-to-one sessions. This is either in classes that I still teach at various clubs in the area, or, I see them at The Phase 2 Gym in Orgreave, between Alrewas and Kings Bromley, which is where I train them.

“It’s having a strong relationship with them, and knowing what they need to hear at that moment, but equally, also knowing when to back off and let them work, that allows me to motivate them effectively,” says David.

During his time as a personal trainer he’s been able to celebrate many different achievements with his customers.

“Every single one of my clients has achieved something that I take great pride in. None of them are world records, or mind boggling numbers, but they’re real people, many with families and full-time jobs, who have managed to achieve real and sustainable change in their lives, that’s what I’m most proud of.

“A couple of quick examples are changing a client’s relationship with exercise, making it into something they enjoyed, rather than dreaded; taking a client from never running in their life to completing their first marathon; breaking the thought process that a higher number on the scale is inherently bad and helping someone lose a stone and a half between New Year’s Day 2020 and the start of lockdown without making them give up their beloved Lindt Lindors.

“Not mind-blowing feats of fitness, but changes I bet most people would love to make but aren’t sure where to start,” says David.

He believes being a personal trainer a rewarding career with plenty of job satisfaction. “There’s so much to love about this job, but what I love most is a draw between getting to know so many different people from different walks of life, and sharing in their enthusiasm as they see progress happening,” he tells Weekend.

As with many other industries it’s a role that does come with some difficulties but David has learned how to overcome them.

David with Chloe Judd

“The biggest challenge in this job at the moment is being credible. We have so much access to information now it can be hard to know what is correct. Add this to a plethora of celebrities using their platforms to get paid to plug different programs and diets, sometimes it’s hard to tell which way is up.

“To overcome this, it takes patience on my part, and perseverance on the client’s part. No-one gets into a position where they’re unhappy with their physical or mental health overnight, so it’s not going to dramatically change to something you’re happier with overnight either. However, it’s also on me as a trainer to quickly notice when something isn’t working as it should and adjust it,” he tells Weekend.

So what does it take to be a successful personal trainer?

“Being highly organised is a must, the ability to multi-task, and people skills, such as empathy and patience, go a long way.

“You also need to have a high level of knowledge of both your industry’s current trends and latest research. Much like everything else in the world, the fitness industry is constantly changing and progressing and you have to keep up to stay credible, or you’ll get left behind,” explains David.

As well as helping to improve and maintain his client’s fitness, he also works hard to keep on top of his own fitness levels.

“I enjoy a balanced approach to fitness, a mix of traditional weightlifting, lower impact cardio such as cycling, and maintaining a regular flexibility and mobility program to help prevent injuries. That’s on top of the group exercise classes I still teach in the area and via Zoom,” says David.

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