HEY SAM—How often should your trainer check his iPhone and send text messages during a workout session? I see it so often at Gold’s that it’s funny. People are paying good money for a personal trainer, yet the trainer spends his time checking text messages and email on his Blackberry or iPhone —even sending texts or returning calls. Amazing. —Evan, West Hollywood
I think the guiding principle is that you ought to have his full (not necessarily undivided) attention.
For a trainer—like all independent contractors—the mobile phone is the lifeline to his business. I’ll bet that Jack LaLanne would say that a trainer should not bring his cell phone onto the gym floor, lest it becomes a distraction. In the spirit of full disclosure, I always have my cell phone with me in case I receive a cancellation.
I say “not necessarily undivided” attention because my experience as a trainer has taught me to focus on several simultaneous visual and auditory phenomena at once. For example, while someone exercises under my supervision, I’m also monitoring their breathing, observing how steadily they’re moving the weights, looking for a full range of motion, correcting their form, counting, (and more). In other words, if your trainer’s attention is divided, it should be divided for a purpose that serves you as a client during your session.
If a trainer is actually Twittering, or sending e-mails and text messages during your session, I think it’s grounds to fire him/her. (I’m not including circumstances such as life or death, or major emergencies, but there’s really no valid reason for your trainer to be texting while on the job). That’s what breaks are for.
Also, keep in mind that a cell phone can be used as a tool during your workout. I use the iPhone’s stopwatch application with clients while they perform timed exercises—a perfectly legitimate purpose.