Steroids, Personal Trainers and double standards

I work in a health and fitness industry, where many within the industry and out of it place a lot of importance on the appearance of the trainers (or, should we say coaches, as is now a popular term to use).

Is the appearance of the trainer so important? Would you want to train with an out of shape PT? Maybe not. A PT in terrible shape does say one of two things: either they’re not following their own advice or they are and it’s wrong! Is either of these acceptable? That depends….

It’s likely that most people who see a personal trainer do so as they want to get in shape, i.e. lose fat and/or build muscle. Now we know all the top sports people have a coach who would not perform at the same level as their athlete. You would expect Rodger Federer to beat his coach in a tennis match. Does that mean the coach has nothing to offer? Clearly not.

However, is a Personal Trainer something different? Should they be an example and live the life they preach about? Is it the responsibility of the trainer to provide something to aspire to? This thought is widely held and I have seen out of shape fitness professionals criticised heavily by peers. This can bring its own set of different problems.

There are those in the fitness industry with amazing, aspirational physiques, a product of a sound, disciplined diet and a decent amount of the right training (and maybe some good genetics). We all have different genetic potential. There are those that want to stretch that potential by getting help in the form of performance enhancing substances such as anabolic steroids, growth hormone and others. There’s nothing wrong with being driven to achieve your physique and body composition goals. It is the choice of the individual whether or not they want to use steroids and such like and many trainers and gym users go down this route. This has recently been reported here.  There are a number of reported side effects of making that choice and the subject of many a lengthy article, which I’ll not be going into in this piece.

One of the issues of this taking place is that it is not openly discussed. Clients and other gym users believe the amazing physique is achieved by hard work and dedication (which is also required). However, the secret ingredient is omitted. This can be particularly hard to stomach when those preaching about the hard work and disciplined diets are also on the ‘juice’. They tend not to preach about this part of their regime, in my experience. So the naive gym goer is left baffled when they don’t achieve the same physique after hard work and eating nothing but chicken, rice and broccoli.

As I said, each to their own and what you do is your choice, but what does it say if a personal trainer can’t achieve the physique they want without androgenic help? If they can’t achieve it with all their knowledge and discipline, what hope has the client got? Are these trainers different from the out of shape trainer?

Is the pressure to be aspirational too much? Or is it just a vanity project, where you’re not good enough unless you have a cover ready physique (which of course you have to flood social media with the images!) Are we now in a situation where everyone has to have the body of a marvel superhero?

The norms are shifting, fat is getting fatter and at a different end of the spectrum ‘good shape’ doesn’t seem to be good enough.

Header image: Walker, P. (2015) Spiralling anabolic steroid use leaves UK facing health timebomb, experts warn. Available at: http://www.theguardian.com/society/2015/jun/19/anabolic-steroid-use-leaves-britain-facing-health-timebomb (Accessed: 1 July 2015)

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