This question comes up a lot with celebrity trainers and popped up again when Anna Kournikova was named the newest “Biggest Loser” trainer, replacing Jillian Michaels beginning next season.
Does being a great athlete mean that you’re automatically a great trainer? I say, emphatically, no, and here’s why.
Athletes are remarkably gifted individuals. They have stellar DNA and have had a cluster of amazing people around them to support their career and achievements. Yes, they’ve been coached, a lot, but just because you’ve received coaching for years, maybe decades, that doesn’t mean you can make the transition to becoming a trainer or coach yourself.
Athletes have an inherent gift for what they do. They move innately and have honed their skills. Often that means they don’t know how to translate what they do to others because they (sorry Nike) “just do it.”
Also, the training skill set is entirely different. Athletes need to know how to play their sport well and win; everything they do is geared towards winning some sort of trophy or medal.
Trainers need to be able to communicate effectively with a wide array of people using verbal, visual, and tactile cues. They need to be able to break down movements so they can teach them to their clients. They need to know anatomy, kinesiology, and physiology in order to help their clients. They need to know how to work around injuries and other medical conditions such as obesity.
You don’t need to know any of that stuff if you’re an athlete. Again, they “just do it.”
I know a lot of fans of “The Biggest Loser” watch the show and say, “I see what they do; they’re great trainers.” But the reality is it takes a good trainer to spot another good trainer. I look for form and every single show I see basic form skills being breached; stuff that is “Trainer 101,” like keeping knees from extending beyond the toes, and not doing shoulder lifts in a way that would cause an impingement.
When I interviewed former Olympian Rulon Gardner who was a contestant on the show this past season, he mentioned that almost every one of the contestants was injured the first week. Is that the example we want to set? Is that how we want to inspire America to work out?
Sigh. Sometimes I feel like a feeble little voice against the juggernaut that is NBC. I wish the show would pick trainers with experience with the morbidly obese population. Sure, I understand that they need to be photogenic and good on camera, but I know they’re out there. Several of you have mentioned bringing back a former contestant who has since become a trainer. I like that idea too.
What do you think?