Do I Need To Be in Shape Before Training? Part II and Conclusions

Coach Izzy

This is the conclusion of the article. If you have not read Part I, please CLICK HERE to catch up. Otherwise, enjoy and leave a comment!

However, in all fairness, I cannot blame the general public for this adopting this mindset. The field of fitness and strength training is ripe with misconceptions, generalizations, and outdated practices that beget stereotypes. Like or not, all stereotypes have some factual base.

It is still common among many fitness professionals –if they can be called so- to physically abuse many of their new and prospective clients through strenuous exercise routines in an attempt to impress them. Needless to say that the vast majority of victims of this form of unethical conduct had no business engaging in routines of such magnitude, and easily overwhelm their limited physical capacity.

Those who manage to somehow survive through the workout can hear the wallowing in the voice of the prospective trainer “See? I knew I could bring the best in you! And you are not even in shape! That’s why you need me.” Those who have to quit lest they risk myocardial infarction or a disabling injury will also hear another type of gloating “See? You could not even make it through my “easiest” (yeah right!) workout. That’s why you need me.”

Predictably, the battered and demoralized individual will wake up in excruciating pain the day after and think how good that trainer must have been to be able to inflict such a level of soreness in only a short period. Here is a little secret though… It does not really take much skill to get an individual extremely sore!

Obviously the individuals conclude it was their fault, and they should have trained before meeting with this awesome, no-pain-no-gain guru.  For many individuals, luck was on their side as they received nothing more than just major muscle soreness.  Others with structural weaknesses unknown to them will pay a much higher price in the form of tears, irritations, sprains, and strains.

Is it a wonder people think they should get in shape before meeting a trainer?  How backwards is that?

To put it in the swimming analogy, the equivalent situation would be the swimming coach throwing you in the deep end of the pool in your first session. If you somehow manage to stay afloat, the coach will gloat “See? You are already getting good! And it’s only our first session!” On the other hand, if you barely save yourself from drowning by holding onto the edge of the pool for dear life, the coach will tell you “See? You cannot even stay afloat. That’s why you need me!” Again, it cannot get any more backwards than that.

It is doubtful this type of approach would be acceptable in the swimming community. Of course there are a couple of nut cases who have used the above method, but these were nut cases and not professional swimming coaches. Professional swimming coaches know that this approach is not only unethical, it would put them out of business in a matter of days.

That is why you do not see prospective novice swimmers attempting the crawl in deep water before meeting their instructor.  They KNOW that a professional swimming coach –to whom they trust their health and life– will take all the necessary measures to keep them making progress at the appropriate pace, and more important, safe. Doing otherwise is universally considered unprofessional.

And if such approach is considered unprofessional elsewhere, why is not only condoned but also encouraged among those who call themselves Fitness Professionals? Reasons are abundant, but that’s an entirely different topic.

Please do not attempt to start your own program if you are going to be meeting a professional strength and conditioning coach for one. Much like your trying to jump into the deep end of the swimming pool without any swimming skills to get ready for your swimming lessons, you may end up creating conditions that will cost you in more ways than simply time and funds.

And if you are concerned about being brutalized in your first meeting, it always pays off to ask for references or research a little.

Unless you specifically ask for a session of physical suffering (Good luck trying to find a professional willing to engage in such an unethical endeavor) your first session should be more of an exploratory nature in which the Fitness Professional learns more about you, your structure, your strengths and limitations.

You do not need to get strong or in shape prior to meeting your strength and conditioning coach. Though the question may seem oxymoronic, I cannot really blame those who ask.  After all, they are simply trying to protect themselves from the consequences of the bad reputation that still lingers in our field.

I’ll see you on the exercise floor!

Coach Izzy

About The Author


Coach Izzy has been part of the Strength and Conditioning field for over 25 years. He speaks of the advantages of self-sufficiency and the drawbacks of relying on the liner approaches the health world seems fond of.