THE BLOG

Should I Take My Shirt Off?

07/03/2014 15:04 GMT | Updated 07/05/2014 10:59 BST

I'm at a loss these days as to where exactly my industry is going. In twenty years I have seen many fads come and go, many 'eat this' and 'do that' miracle cures pass me by. What we have now is a saturated market of personal trainers looking to gain an edge and stand out from the crowd. Maybe, just maybe I'm too old school, maybe the value of my expertise, skills and experience really should be pushed out there via my oiled torso and a photo or video of myself.

This is the new trend, the new wave of fitness folk determine to get their message out there via a pumped up pectoral muscle and a tooth whitening kit. This is not a new phenomenon, in fact taking your shirt off to prove a point has been around longer than protein powder, centuries in fact, think Spartans , think '300'.

In 1949 a 57 year old Charles Atlas boasted a 15-minute programme that will change your world and make you look hot in leopard skin trunks.

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Over sixty years later the same methods are in place but via the turbo charged social media platforms that we all are mildly addicted to.

What is it about getting yourself in shape as a fitness professional and taking your shirt off to sell your wares? I guess a lot of money has been made by a few individuals that have created and marketed the 'get fit and look like me' fix. Fair play to them, but increasingly, my industry is producing killer bodies with little or no substance and a message that potentially alienates the masses.

We all need to be inspired, we all need to feel we are in good hands no matter what help we seek in our life. Would you buy a suit of scruffily dressed shop assistant? I understand that we as fitness professionals must lead by example but appearing half naked on a YouTube video to demonstrate an exercise surely belongs firmly in the 1980's box along with Jean Claude Van Damn, Arnie and Sylvester?

To be respected and to have the ability to make a brand work and ultimately get people fit does not require us as fitness professionals to look like we are auditioning for a job at Spearmint rhino.

Or does it?

I chatted to Dan Grant 'Shape Trainer', expert trainer, super experienced and he explains.

"Whether you see a'hard-worker' or 'show-off' when a man with rippling muscles whips off his shirt is a matter of perception. One thing is true, a six-pack & bulging biceps make a statement of superior health & vitality.

Just like when a silverback beats his chest to prove his manliness in a show of aggression, a personal trainer may quite as easily reveal his pecs in a room full of members in the gym!

I believe this stems from one main objective; To illustrate a superior level of health, fitness & superiority.

This may be in the hope of a new client who also wants to achieve that look or maybe for the admiration of the lady members - but either way it is a signal to 'Look at me'.

This possibly stems from our caveman & animal kingdom roots where physical signs of superiority where highly sort after. It most definitely is linked to the alpha male competition present in all sporting environments.

Only the strong survive is outdated in this day of modern society but certainly if you can put up a good show of physical mastery you will do well in certain arenas. Personal training is certainly one of them.

A lot of the techniques that good personal trainers use are attained from body building pros. This goes hand in hand with showing what that technique achieved in terms of pump to the muscle"

Somehow, I don't think Sir Dave Braislford or Sir Clive Woodward need to take their shirts off to prove they are worth listening too? Sir Clive in a pair of Speedo's championing his sport would be a sight for sore eyes for most I'm sure. They are not fitness coaches, but great coaches, the best and they seem to have influenced thousands of people via their team's successes and inspiring techniques. Perhaps the fitness industry needs a figurehead that can be equally inspiring and trusted?

Dan and his 7-week workout certainly gets results with him fronting it, so perhaps as long as we in the fitness industry inspire people, trainers should use whatever method feels right? I'm not convinced but the proof of the pudding is in NOT eating it!