How Personal Trainers and pastors can share the wrong perspective …

I knew the day would come, and here it was. The latest Personal Trainer hired by the gym had injured his back lifting too much, incorrectly.

I’ve had the opportunity to work with some excellent Personal Trainers, but I’ve worked with more who got into the business with the wrong attitude, wrong reason, or wrong objective. Many of them had a disdain for the out-of-shape clients that made up the majority of people who walked into the gym. Most members were not athletes, and it was rarer still for an elite athlete to walk through the door.

Most of the trainers hoped to at least work with exceptional high school athletes, or preferably college athletes, with the ultimate goal of some day working with elite athletes. But most of those trainers weren’t qualified to train an elite athlete, and had no experience doing so.

The reality was, most of the people they would work with would be the housewife who wanted to lose weight now that she was done having children, the middle-aged man who had added a beer belly and wanted to reduce it, the 50-something-year-old who was told by his doctor he was heading for health problems if they didn’t improve their fitness, and every now and then the mediocre high school athlete whose dad was convinced they could be a star with the right trainer.

That doesn’t mean that sometimes the athlete doesn’t walk through the gym door, or even the occasional elite athlete (I’ve had the chance to train all of the above), but it usually means the training goals of most people Personal Trainers work with will at least start far below the personal goals of many trainers. Most people who hire a Personal Trainer just want to improve their own personal fitness. They aren’t interested in training for any kind of competition, slogging through mud with a buddy, or becoming a triathlete. They want to lose some weight, build some lean muscle, and not have any significant health concerns.

That is their version of “fitness.”

Other than financial, the reason why so many Personal Trainers leave the industry early after entering it is because they aren’t happy providing their clients with what their clients want. Instead, they want their clients to be as excited about getting to the gym as they are, and expect their clients to spend as much time there as they do. They dream of what their client could be if they were as sold out on “fitness” as they are … but they aren’t.

At least, not the idea of “fitness” many trainers have.

Yet, it’s those Personal Trainers who understand fitness is an individual measure and who help their clients clarify THEIR goals and then meet them that find a lot of satisfaction AND success in the industry. They also get a lot of referrals from clients who are very happy about reaching their new level of function and fitness. And every now and then, some of those clients are going to be so excited about their fitness gains that they become those weekend athletes who discover a love for competing in various events.

But the guy who gets into fitness because he loves to lift, likes ogling and hitting on the “hot” girls in the gym, and enjoys the camaraderie of other gym rats often finds no joy in helping the soccer mom lose 20 pounds. Trainers like this either need to change their professional perspective or their profession.

Pastors can be a lot like these Personal Trainers. So many pastors today relish the fellowship of other church leaders over spending time with the people who actually make up their congregation. They long for strategy meetings, conferences, and interactive podcasts with other pastors. All of which are more alluring than visiting the 80-year-old shut-in, making hospital calls, or counseling a couple considering divorce. Pastors today are obsessed with making other leaders rather than making disciples.

Why shouldn’t they be? Much of what they read or hear from rock star church leaders is all about making other leaders, not about making disciples, or helping their biblically illiterate congregation learn and apply God’s Word to their lives.

Like the Personal Trainers who need to reassess why they are in their profession, these pastors need to either gain a new perspective about their calling or consider doing something else.

Fortunately, I’ve had the privilege of working with some fantastic Personal Trainers and pastors who contribute significantly to great, positive life changes, physically and spiritually. But it seems there is an increasing need to more closely examine early on why someone wants to pursue either of these professions.

WHY are you doing what you’re doing? Do you have the perspective you need to be the Personal Trainer your clients need, or the pastor God has called you to be?