I once had a guy in my group class, who told me that he decides whether a trainer is good or bad, based on how she looks.
In other words, he believed that if a trainer is lean and ripped, she's trustworthy and she can get him results. If she's not lean and ripped, she's probably not a good trainer.
But you don't have to be lean and ripped. Yes, even you, if you are a personal trainer!
I understand where this misconception is coming from, but things aren't necessarily that simple. I've seen, from my own personal experience as a personal and group fitness trainer, that gaining weight didn't make me stupider. In fact, as a result of taking my health into my own hands which came with added weight, I became a better trainer in many ways.
Here's why your trainer, who doesn't look lean and ripped, can still be a great trainer:
She didn't lose any knowledge as a result of gaining weight
What would make anyone think that a trainer's knowledge is going to disappear, and she's becoming more stupid and less likely to help you, because she gained weight?
Would we ever say that a teacher or a lawyer doesn't know her job anymore… because she gained weight?
We're taking about two separate things here: a physical body and knowledge. There's no correlation between getting leaner and becoming smarter, or getting fatter and becoming stupider.
Although I must say one thing: When I started my recovery from hypothalamic amenorrhea and put on weight to restore my hormones, I started sleeping better and my brain fog decreased a lot. That means, I was able to think better! Well, comes out that gaining weight can actually make you smarter too.
She knows more about female health and hormones
If your trainer gained weight because she was recovering from missing periods, for example, it means that she now knows much more about female hormones than she did before.
For example, before, I had no idea that working out on cycle day 3 can feel very different from working out on cycle day 28. All I knew was that on day one, many women and experiencing cramps or other discomfort so maybe it's time to take it easier. But the rest of it — I didn't know! Because my own hormones were not functioning. Or, to be more accurate: They weren't even there.
Now, talking about menstrual cycles is a regular thing in our training sessions. In this podcast, I'm sharing a few things about how to train during the different phases of your cycle (during the follicular phase, which is the first half of the cycle, and during the luteal phase, which is the second half of the cycle).
She's more careful about overtraining
If your trainer has gained weight as a result of recovering from overtraining, she's absolutely better trainer now than she was before, because she knows what to look out for.
Sometimes there's a delicate balance between doing just enough and doing too much. To get fitness results, we need to find the way to stimulate our bodies so that they will develop, grow and get stronger. If we do too much and over stress them, we may end up overtraining. If the recovery isn't adequate, you may start seeing red flags like insomnia, changes in appetite, irregular cycles and more. Check out this post for more overtraining symptoms.
The last things I want to happen to my clients are getting injured or overtrained. I've experienced both and I'm extra careful about both things.
Also in my group fitness classes, I make sure to give people modifications and they can always choose to do a variation of whatever exercise we're doing. Bootcamp classes are meant to be hard, but I always encourage people to take breaks when they need them and slow down if we're going too fast. I can never know how someone else's body feels.
She's more compassionate
If your trainer has gained weight for whatever reason, she knows how hard it can be, and how judgmental the fitness industry can be. She also knows very well how awful the comparison trap is, and what negative self talk is. Because she has experienced it all.
She encourages you to work consistently and move often, but she'll never judge you for feeling tired today and having to cut your workout shorter if you need to.
You can tell her when you're having a bad body image day and she'll understand and probably has some good tips for you on how to get past that.
She'll never judge or shame you for your size, or put you on the scale to show you what a weekend of indulgence has done to you. Because she knows that shaming doesn't work. It doesn't inspire or motivate anyone.
We can't decide about trainers' skills and knowledge, based on their looks.
I want to make sure that you're getting it right: I'm not saying that a really jacked trainer can't have enough knowledge about health, hormones and overtraining or that she can't be compassionate. But I am saying that a trainer with a higher fat percentage, doesn't have to have less knowledge, and may in fact have even more, if she has experienced some health issues herself.
If you're a trainer yourself, know that your knowledge didn't go anywhere as you gained weight. If your client leaves you because you put on weight (which never happened to me, by the way), it's all good — you weren't good fit for each other anyway.
Are you recovered from hypothalamic amenorrhea and want to start training again? Do it safely, without losing your period again. Check out my online program, Simple Strength for Women.