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Poll on Personal Trainer Gaining Weight to Better Understand Clients

Trainer Gains Weight to Better Understand Clients: Cool or Not?

There are plenty of personal trainers who didn't always live healthy lives and worked hard to shed a bunch weight to reveal inspiring physiques. When someone is overweight and working out with a trainer, it can be motivating to know the person playing boss has been there before. But a trainer/former underwear model who becomes overweight by choice, just to lose the weight once he's hit his goal weight? This is something new.

Typically weighing in at a muscular 180 pounds, Australian personal trainer Paul "PJ" James is halfway to his goal weight of 265 pounds in an effort to better understand his overweight clients. He intends on living with his new body for a few months, and come Summer he'll encourage his clients to lose weight together. James hopes to gain insight into why some of his clients skip sessions or are unmotivated to work out.

The difference between James and his clients is that he is gaining weight by choice, while many people at an unhealthy weight have not exactly chosen their bodies. He's loading up on doughnuts, fried chocolate bars, pizza, and pasta with creamy sauces, but many overweight individuals eat because of emotional issues and the food serves as a source of comfort.

What do you think of this little experiment, is it cool or not?


Join The Conversation
lauraannc lauraannc 8 years
I agree with what Hellokitty87 said a few posts ago.. let's hope he doesn't get stuck on the fatty foods. I think he's doing it for the reasons he said, to see what it's like for the clients trying to lose weight, which he could get a BIT of a feel for. BUT I also think he is using it as an excuse to step into the temptation that is all the delicious sugary and greasy foods out there. It's tough. Being healthy in our culture is really tough.
SATClover SATClover 8 years
This doesn't make sense, because he has lived a healthy lifestyle for so long he is not going to know what it's like to "feel unmotivated or skip a workout". Why would gaining weight all of a sudden give him that feeling of unmotivation? He will ALWAYS want to work out. He will never know the emotions of being emotionally addicted to food because he TRIED to gain weight. Because this whole thing was by choice the emotions don't come with it.
kclulu kclulu 8 years
I think that there is probably a big disconnect between trainers who have been fit and healthy all of their lives and their clients who have not been. When you adopt that lifestyle early and know no other way but to exercise frequently and eat the right foods, I can see why it would be hard to relate to some clients. Although by gaining weight he isn't neccesarily going through the exact same thing his clients are, I think it can give him a new perspective he hasn't had before. To me it seems a lot less condescening than putting a fat suit on and claiming you understand the pain of being overweight. Once that experiemnt is over you get to take the weighted vest or fat suit off, people who are overweight dont have that luxary and they have to work to get the weight off which is exactly what he will have to do as well. It may not be exactly the same but I would also be interested in a follow up to this story to see what his experience was like.
jessie jessie 8 years'd love to see another article on this in the future.
snowbunny11 snowbunny11 8 years
Allytta- "he's losing his health and losing the weight won't return it back." I'm not saying he isn't doing more harm than it's worth to his body, but when people lose weight, their risk factors for certain obesity-related illnesses like diabetes and heart disease do go down. Someone might read your comment and think you believed there were no health benefit to losing weight!
snowbunny11 snowbunny11 8 years
I think everyone made some really insightful comments on this. I personally gained 35 pounds in 4 years in college because I stopped playing sports, and ate a little too much junk, not because I was a "glutton," and he won't really ever be able to understand *how* his clients got to where they are, just how it feels. For that reason, I like Sass's idea of working out wearing weights. I used to be a competitive distance runner, and trust me, running with 35 extra pounds makes it seem 35 times harder. My main worry is he won't get out of the mind-set that his clients also "chose" to pig-out. Sure, every cookie or cream sauce is a choice, but there are many reasons why obese people make these choices, and most likely they were either overweight since childhood, or the weight crept on like 10-20 pounds here or there, averaging out to be 10 pounds a year. My mom is obese, and she got that way due to medications to treat mental illness, and the weight gain happened over a period of 10 years.
Allytta Allytta 8 years
i have already heard of it and my innicial reaction was wow how cool... but then i remembered all the health issues involved and i changed my mind, this is ridiculuos, he's losing his health and losing the weight won't return it back.
ilanac13 ilanac13 8 years
i'm not sure that it's the smartest thing to do. think about what it does to your body - to your health and your heart. just so that you can 'understand' what your clients are going through. it's just too extreme to me. i think that yes you won't be in their shoes but you have knowledge and understanding and that should in reality help you relate more.
reallysparkle reallysparkle 8 years
well, he's sure getting a lot of attention from it. he might damage himself permanently if he isn't careful, though. anything from stretch marks to strain on his heart could happen, not to mention he might still crave all the fatty foods he's eating and never go completely back to his old lifestyle.
Chrstne Chrstne 8 years
I think that it's interesting. I have gained weight -- but because I went from not eating more than 1 meal a day and cheerleading/other activities. To eating regular meals, some definite bad choices, and my weight skyrocketed. About 50 lbs in 2 years. It's gross, but whatever. I am trying to lose it now. Anyway, I think that because I have been on both ends of the spectrum I understand people's predicaments a little more. I didn't do it on purpose, but I believe he will gain some insight. Sometimes your body changes, you feel deprived, and all of the sudden food is shoved into your mouth left and right -- you can gain a serious amount of weight in a short amount of time. I hope he starts to understand clients a bit more, so maybe he can change his approach and make those who are overweight and struggling with motivation have success.
amandaaa amandaaa 8 years
it is not cool to put your health in jeopardy. i get what he's trying to do, but it's not good for his body.
doogirl doogirl 8 years
I think it's a great idea! This way he'll actually know how his clients feel, and I think that compassion will go a long way. I don't think he's going to damage his health in any way, a lot of people gain weight and lose it and it's fine!
khase khase 8 years
This is clearly a gimmick and it's stupid. And it may very well backfire. I don't want to buy the services of an overweight out-of-shape trainer...if you can't even get yourself in shape what the heck can you do for me???
AndreaT AndreaT 8 years
yeah, not cool -- because he's operating under the assumption that every overweight/obese person out there is a huge glutton who does nothing but sit around all day and shove food into their pie holes. i'd hazard a guess that most people gain their weight gradually, over years of eating slightly more than their bodies need to stay at a lower weight. i know plenty of big people who have lousy habits, and plenty of big people who can blow past me on hiking trails or in the pool. i think it's shameful to use sweeping generalizations like this and assume that all overweight and obese people gorge themselves. (and P.S., i'm saying this as a thin person.) i feel like all this little experiment is going to do is make this guy (who, and i'm going waaaay out on a limb here, is probably a jerk) think that all fat people ate the way he did to get where they are. then, he's going to go back to his normal habits and, voila! get thin again, because that's what is the standard for his body. (not to mention the fact that after eating like that, his metabolism is going to be crazy revved up.) and then he's going to expect that his clients can do the same as easily as he did. plus, as others said, this dude is totally going for publicity. empathize my @$$.
sunshinepointe sunshinepointe 8 years
I think it's a nifty idea but really? I can't see intentionally harming my body to that degree for the sake of experimentation. Also - I think that the study is a bit skewed. He'll lose the weight again and probably rather easily since he already knows what to do and has the motivation to do it. Nevertheless I'd be interested in seeing what he "finds".
tlsgirl tlsgirl 8 years
Personally, I think he's just looking for free publicity, and I wouldn't want a trainer who knowingly put himself in an unhealthy position, whatever the reason. It just seems silly to me.
It will certainly get him a lot of attention and clients = $$$. Hope he succeeds in helping himself and his clients lose it.
marie-lee marie-lee 8 years
I can empathize with the idea of being able to understand the weight loss journey of your clients but I don't understand putting your own health and well being at risk at all.
xxkrist24xx xxkrist24xx 8 years
So I have to say, I find this cool in that when he goes to lose weight he'll be working alongside his clients, but at the same time, if he wants to claim that he'll completely understand what they're going through, that's an entirely different matter. I would be pissed if a trainer told me that because they gained weight from eating all the 'bad' foods in excess, they understood what it felt like to be overweight, when for me I have to be eating *perfectly* and exercising constantly in order to lose even a little weight (and I'm not at a healthy weight yet).
itsme3683 itsme3683 8 years
I'm on the fence, as well. My trainer gained some weight (as did some of the other trainers in my gym) because they were doing a "body challenge" program and the idea was that they would be examples and people could actually see the results, but she didn't gain as much as this person did, nor was she eating deep fried everything. She just put a little bit more junk in the trunk, so to speak.
Mila_83 Mila_83 8 years
Wrong on so many levels!Can't imagine unfit and unhealthy trainer trying to motivate me to get in shape and stay in shape!Do your research,read special literature,attend classes,make personal connections with your clients instead of ruining your heath.
HelloAnia HelloAnia 8 years
I just hope he doesn't get hooked on the donuts and fried foods... losing the weight and kicking those delicious greasy foods is harder than putting weight on in the first place.
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