Lessons From My Trainer
November 11, 2015 | 952 Views
If you were to ask me if I enjoy exercising, my answer would be a definite “no.” I don’t hate it as much as the taste of broccoli or when I’m forced to listen to someone chew gum with their mouth open, but I’m really not much of a fan of the gym.
I do know there are benefits to getting regular exercise, of course, many of which are very important for me as I get farther away from 40 and closer to 50: more energy, flexibility, weight control, better sleep, blah, blah, blah. And since I actually need these benefits to stay healthy but cannot be trusted to work out on my own, I hired a personal trainer to help me. His name is Jeff, and he owns a business called Northcore Performance Training near my home. I visit him twice a week, and if it weren’t for those paid appointments, I would skip the gym entirely and remain firmly on my couch with a Snickers in one hand and the remote control in the other.
But here’s the thing about Jeff: he’s not only a great for making sure I exercise properly, but he’s also a great role model for my job as a hospitality trainer. Every time I visit his gym, I am constantly reminded about practices that I need to follow when it comes to trainees back at our Ivar’s locations. Let me give you a few examples:
- Without fail, Jeff always greets me with a big hello and a smile when I walk in to the gym. No matter how many people he is training at the time, I always get a friendly greeting that sets a positive tone for the visit and makes me feel better about my decision to show up. That same feeling is something that I strive to create when I’m working out in the field; even if I have a bunch of phone calls to make or text messages to send, I take a break from those duties for at least a few minutes so that I can properly greet new hires and introduce myself when I walk into the restaurants. It’s important that I put down my phone and look them in the eye, smile, offer a handshake, and help them to feel welcome in their new surroundings.
- My trainer also does everything in his power to create an environment where I can excel. Not only will Jeff make sure I know how to use the equipment and perform the routines, he also plays my favorite music to get me pumped up (1980s rock!), pays attention when I describe any injuries I may need to work around, and occasionally gives me a choice of different exercises to keep me involved in the process. I attempt to incorporate these same tactics in the workplace, since every trainee is different and responds to different motivations. The better I get to know them, the more I can customize the training program to build upon their strengths and increase their chances of success.
- Jeff never lets any of his clients use bad form when working out. He doesn’t criticize or condescend, but only corrects their technique. He also offers an explanation for the correction, with the typical reasons being that cheating doesn’t get me the full benefit of the exercise and could result in injury. As a trainer myself, I attempt to keep up that same level of vigilance when working in the restaurant and consistently watch for opportunities to correct bad form (i.e., not performing up to our standards or following proper procedures) with employees. But just like Jeff, my goal is to discuss it in a positive manner and to ensure that they understand the true reasons why some tasks have to be performed in a certain way.
- There are definitely times at the gym when I honestly believe I cannot possibly complete one of my assigned routines. 40 stair runs and 12 sled pushes? Impossible! But Jeff has seen many disbelieving clients finish these same exercises and knows that it is doable, so he uses that experience to effectively encourage and reassure me until I finish the set. He never lets me give up and is able to push me beyond my self-imposed limits so that I can accomplish more than I could conceive. And now when I see my own trainees doubt themselves while learning a new routine (especially when told they will eventually be solo-cooking an entire meal period at one of our quick-service restaurants), I am able to use the same techniques I’ve learned from Jeff to talk them through the process and help them achieve their goals.
- When I’m done with the workout, and after I’ve killed myself for that hour, I live for a high-five from Jeff and these four words: “Great job today, Patrick.” Recognition of my efforts is the highlight of my day, and it makes me want to come back and do it all over again the next time (which is saying a lot, given how much I do not like to exercise). And that’s how I want my trainees to feel, too. I want them to understand that I appreciate their work ethic and their drive to succeed, which is why I always try to celebrate their accomplishments at the end of each shift.
OK, so after reading what I just wrote, maybe I don’t dislike exercise as much as I used to. I’m lucky to have found a trainer like Jeff who doesn’t just want me to succeed at today’s workout, but wants me to succeed in the long-haul and reach any and all fitness goals I can dream up. And if I can provide that same level of support for the new employees at Ivar’s – if I can help them not only get through today’s shift but also have a long, successful career in our company – well, that’s when I know I’ve really done my job well.
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