The other day I experienced a “first” in my personal training career: I trained my mother! To some this might not seem like any big deal, but to others (and those who are will know exactly what I’m talking about), it was a very big deal indeed. You see, my mother and I are a lot alike in terms of our temperament. We both become very dedicated to whatever goal we are pursuing, and because of that dedication, become hellbent on taking the path that we perceive to be the correct one, even if that means having to re-trace our steps and take a different route to achieve what we have set out to. Some might call it being “hard-headed’. I like to refer to it as…ok, well being hard headed I suppose.

As I pulled up to her apartment I was filled with anxiety. Even with all the years of experience I have, I still get nervous before seeing a new client-and even more so, as it turns out, my mother. With sweaty palms, I knocked on her door, exchanged a hug, and we got down to the business of her first ever session with a trainer.

Long story short, the session went as well as it possibly could have. She learned things about herself that she hadn’t known, and quite delightfully, I did as well. Though I’ve been a personal trainer since my late teens, I’ve only experienced a handful of clients that moved so poorly that we literally had to start from ground zero. Sure I’ve worked with people who had aspects of poor movement, but we could always resort back to things that they did well for reference when trying to teach them a better and healthier way. Still, my mother made it through that first session and both her and I are all the better for it. Onwards and upwards!…

After having some time to reflect on our session and plan upcoming sessions, I’ve thought a lot about the quote from Erwan LeCorre, “Be Strong to be Helpful”. So often in this game of health and wellness, we as trainers fall into the trap of walking the walk only so that we can talk the talk. In other words, a lot of fitness professionals, myself included, have built up the reputation with our clients of being strong and able. We can move well, we’re disciplined when it comes to nutrition, and we ALWAYS make time ourselves to exercise and practice what we preach. Sure it’s a great motivational tool and gives us all some credibility when our clients come to us seeking advice, but at the end of the day, what are we actually DOING with all that fitness? Like Anne and I, some might compete in races and the like, while others might seek out different forms of competition. What I’m getting at is, what are the things we do with our fitness and our knowledge that really matter?

I’ve always said that I’m more happy hearing from a client that they were able to do something in their daily lives better as a result of our training than hearing a client explain to me they reached a new PR in the gym or in the athletic arena. Yes, both are wonderful achievements, but truly enriching the everyday life of a client is what brings warmth to my heart. If I can manage to make an everyday task easier, and therefore better, it truly proves that what we are doing in our sessions has a practical benefit.

So with that I challenge you all to “Be Strong to be helpful.” If you can educate, then educate. If you can be the example, than be the example. What can you do with the strength (both physical and mental) that you gain from your chosen form of activity to help another person? The other day I was fortunate¬†enough to find a new way to help my mother with the strength in knowledge that I’ve accumulated over the years. I challenge you to do similar.

Dave