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How I deal with Body Pressure as a Personal Trainer

  • Posted by Catherine Tumelty
  • 06 July 2015

It’s time to ‘fess up, and bare all to the universe. Something that has been weighing on my mind for years, and still continues to do so. How I deal with the pressure of not having a perfect fitness model body, and being a 

fitness professional? The fitness industry can often have this underlying pressure of ‘you must always look better than your client.’

I call bullsh*t to this.

I have asked some of my clients what they like about training with me. Why wouldn’t they go to a trainer who looks like a fitness model 24/7 instead? Well, many of them say, ‘Helen. you’re REAL.’ They can tell I have a story. That I wasn’t born with a perfect body that I don’t need to work for. That I have overcome huge roadblocks. That they can relate to me.


This is all clearly visible when I modify some very normal exercises such as deadlifts and squats, to suit my physical limitations brought about by being born with a foot deformity, multiple surgeries, and my touch-and-go adrenals and hormonal issues. (read more about this here) 

But that pressure of not quite feeling good enough. That pressure of looking yourself up and down in the mirror, and second guessing your outfit choice because you don’t feel 100% in it.

Truth time? I’ve been there. Many days, I still am.

So what do I do on one of these days? How do I deal with the pressure of being the one that others look to in the gym for inspiration and motivation, when some days, I feel like I am not even close to being that person? This is hard for me to put out there for everyone to see. It’s the ultimate form of vulnerability. But I believe in being my true authentic self, and being accountable.

There are days where I am wearing my PT uniform and at the supermarket. I feel other shoppers look me up and down, sneak a glance into my basket and see what groceries I’m buying, then again, look me up and down, as if sizing me up and deciding if I am actually the picture of health that my uniform and profession dictates I should be. I feel it when those who recognise me as a staff member watch me doing my own workouts. The weights I’m lifting. How hard I’m pushing myself. Heck, I often see some people copy my workouts, and significantly alter what they’re doing, in order to meet, or beat me.

There are some days I feel like a fraud. Since when is fitness and health a competition? There have been some days where I feel like because of all the physical limitations I suffer, I shouldn’t even be in this industry.

When I work out, I am doing it for the exact same reason as anyone else at the gym. To better myself. I do not do it so I can have a better body than my clients. I do it to improve my health. To ease the pain that my foot brings to the rest of my body through imbalance and muscle overcompensation. To one day get to a place where I need to rely on medication. To live the life I was born to live, and push past my limitations. How do I get through those days where I would much rather be curled up in bed in my comfy clothes? (yes, I too have those days!)

I delve deep. I write. I put on my favourite music I sit in the sun. I read an inspiring blog or book. In other words, I nurture my emotional self, and mental self. It is then, and only then, that the physical stuff is possible. This is why so many of us fail, time and time again. You need to know your big ‘why’.

Why do you want to get fitter, leaner, thinner, stronger? If you had a magic genie, I doubt your one wish would be ‘make me look good in a bikini’. Sure, that’d be nice, but it’s not what we really want, is it? You want to wake up each and every morning feeling free. Full of energy. In flow with your life, and knowing you are living your life exactly the way you are meant to be. You want to have that freedom to drop everything, and head to the beach at a moment’s notice, throwing on a bikini without second guessing yourself. You want that freedom for it not to be all a constant chore. To know 100% that you are eating well and keeping active, without it even feeling like work at all. For it all to be natural, and just, well, easy.

It’s totally do-able. You just have to claim it.