A Facebook fitness professionals group got into it this week with a verrrrry heated conversation about before and after photos.

The post asked for the “body positive” professionals to stand up and identify themselves by way of indicating that we did NOT use before and after photos to market our services.

Straightforward enough, but as I never have, I answered the thread and watched as 246 comments piled up until the comments got turned off. Fascinating discussion, to be honest:

Some trainers said without photo evidence, you had nothing to sell except feelings.

Some trainers said it was outside the scope of our industry’s practise to make clients feel better about themselves — that’s the job of psychologists.

Some trainers said their clients come to see them for aesthetic results. So what’s the problem with that?

Bingo. There is no problem with that.

Aesthetics keep a certain percentage of people motivated.

But so do a lot of other things. Maybe feeling good does. Maybe being out of pain does. There are a dozen approaches, and none of them are wrong or bad or worth scrapping with strangers on Facebook about, when (presumably) all of these people are making an actual living wage as fitness professionals.

I’m personally generally not a fan of training for aesthetic purposes alone, but that’s my age and personal life experience speaking. I’m not 24 and I never had a classic “bikini body” model figure. So it’s just not my area of expertise or interest. It’s not what I’m good at and it’s not why my clients come to see me.

So the best advice I have for all the trainers out there: do what you do best. Your clients will find common connecting points and find you.

And here’s what I have to say to anyone who wants to hire a fitness professional: know what keeps you going (or that you are having a hard time even getting started) and find a professional that is aligned with your values and the expected result.

If it’s aesthetics, find someone who’s generating jaw-dropping before and after images. Be realistic about the multiple costs associated with your desire. You are going to dedicate your time, your money and your diet to get that transformation shot. Nothing wrong with that if that’s your thing.

It’s not mine. And that’s why I don’t train that way. I’m personally well past the point of carrying my own food around and counting, well, anything. I personally want an active lifestyle where I can put on a pair of skates for the first time in 8 years (twice in three days) and not be sore the next day. It’s why I specialize in getting people out of pain and discomfort and providing sustainability solutions that help facilitate the other things they want to do. Also nothing wrong with that.

I don’t think that’s selling a “feeling” and not a result: I personally think I’m an active adult who chooses to spend my time on what the University of Calgary calls “active living” rather than gym workouts. And that’s what I excel at helping clients with.

I can help people get out of pain, even if they are sedentary or even if they are athletes. And once they are out, I can give sweat-free sustainable workouts that feel good to do and keep your body running like a well oiled machine.

So I’m a body mechanic.

And there’s nothing wrong with that.

It just doesn’t make for the most exciting before and after shots 😉

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