I’m sure there are more paradoxical situations in other professions, but to most people, seeing a chubby personal trainer is right up there with a doctor who smokes. Personal trainers are supposed to be a paradigm of the fitness methods and practices they teach, correct? Then why are there so many trainers who aren’t just chubby, but are downright unhealthy in some circumstances?
I can’t speak for all aspects of fitness, but I can relate to the specific unconventional niche in which I occupy. Unconventional trainers are supposed to focus on performance and longevity as opposed to the aesthetic goals of bodybuilding, the pure strength of power lifting, or the flexibility and calm of yoga. We are supposed to be able to use any tool, any where, in any amount of time to build the general physical preparedness of anyone, young or old, new or experienced, athletic or uncoordinated. Unconventional training looks like madness, but there is always a method behind it.
Even so, there are “chubby” or unfit personal trainers among us. Sure, they may be able to pass the Snatch Test on a whim, Windmill the Beast, or perform a proper Muscle Up, but that doesn’t mean they eat well, workout as often as they should, or generally follow the advice they teach to their clients.
I should know… I’m pretty bad myself! My body fat percentage hovers around 12%, I drink beer, and I’m known to enjoy the occasional bacon cheeseburger or Reuben on sourdough bread (I hate rye). The truth is, I’m comfortable like this. I can throw down when I need to, I’m not overly stressed with calorie counting, and I can rapidly get back to a much more athletic state if I want to. I’m in what you call a “maintenance” stage, and I have been for years now.
Is this situation okay for other trainers? That’s a tough question. I worked out really hard for years leading up to this point. My diet was on point, my workouts were consistent and programmed, and I have plenty of “6-pack” pictures in the past to prove that yes, I am in shape (or was at some point using the methods which I advise for other people). The point is that I had to work hard to climb the mountain that is fitness, and now I’m kind of just chilling.
But let’s say that a trainer was never REALLY fit, and started coasting from the start. They may be in a less-than-ideal physical condition because they’re busy, there’s too much stress in their lives, they don’t sleep enough, they’re too poor (or more likely uncreative) to eat healthy, etc. Basically all the reasons why ANYONE is out of shape. What do you say to that?
The real question is: “Is it bad for a personal trainer to be out of shape?” It really depends on your fitness realm. For bodybuilders, a little 0ff-season chub is not a bad thing. For strongmen, fat (or rather weight itself) is an essential piece of the puzzle. Again, in my unconventional realm, being “out of shape” doesn’t have much to do with how you look physically, but how you perform.
With that in mind, I believe that no trainer should ask another person to do something that they can’t do themselves.
Again, this is limited to my realm (if you’re an athletic strength and conditioning coach, of course you will have athletes that can out perform you). I primarily train average Joe/Jane who is new to fitness and wants to get in better shape to play more with their kids/grandkids, enjoy their weekend activities, or avoid injuries/pain as they age.
So, are chubby personal trainers bad? Just like most things, it really depends on each individual situation. Is a strongman going to be criticized for his gut? Will the fitness competitor get crap for having 8% body fat in the off season? Will the less-than-shredded unconventional trainer be harassed even if he can still crush the beast challenge?