Before You Hire a Personal Trainer, Listen to This Interview with Anthony Pereira

Personal Trainer

Alright fit folks, there’s something you need to know:

Not all personal trainers are “trained” equally.

Anthony Pereira, a Clinical Physiologist (and Personal Trainer), created Train or Be Trained to address the wide array of trainers out there and bring awareness to the general public of the different training styles available…

…and to the fact that while there are many competent and educated trainers out there, it is still a profession that can attract those only interested in the money, without passion or a care about your health.

In this interview, Anthony shares his wisdom on Personal Trainers and what you should know before hiring one.

Train or Be Trained – Anthony Pereira Interview

Post-Interview Thoughts

I think we always want to rush into getting into shape. We want the 6 week abs, the 30 day beach body, or whatever else is marketed to us as taking little time and little effort.

This attitude of wanting it all right now may lead some to hire a trainer without thinking much about who that trainer is and whether or not they’re the best trainer for them.

I really like what Anthony was getting at near the end of the interview with his comments on excuses. There really are no excuses! If you’re not in shape, I’d implore you to write out why in the comments below. Heck, maybe we can learn something! Maybe there is a valid excuse after all!

But honestly, when someone says they don’t exercise because they don’t have the time, or they have kids now, or they have an injury or medical condition, we know it’s crap and the real reason is that it’s just way easier to lie to ourselves than have to get uncomfortable, sweaty, prioritize our time, cut out entertainment (read: distractions from success) and push our body past its pre-conceived limits.

That being said, I and I’m sure most others that exercise want YOU and everyone to exercise, because we know how good it makes us feel, but we can’t force you, all we can do is smile while you tell us your list of reasons why you can’t.

Anthony Pereira ProfileAnthony Pereira is a Clinical Physiologist based out of Oakville, Ontario, Canada. He runs Achieva Fitness and Wellness offering Restorative Care, Personal Training, and Wellness Seminars. He also runs Train or Be Trained, a monthly web video series where users can vote for the best trainer and learn about a variety of different training styles.

Full Transcript

Spencer: So can you tell us a bit about train or be trained?

Anthony: Well, train or be trained, is a video forum of different health and fitness professionals wanting to showcase and bring forth different relatable video messages for the public. The name in itself ‘Train or be Trained’ I came up with it to try to invoke thought when people are training in any particular different realm or perspective to ask them themselves ‘do I train properly or do I still need to be trained’? Well, you know what, it actually sits back and impresses that question to the trainer as well. Because in anything that we do, we never stop learning right? So ask yourself ‘do I train or do I still need to be trained to a certain degree’? Who cares what it is you do. It doesn’t really matter what kind of training perspective that you take on, whether or not it’s for athletics, whether or not its just for general upkeep or whether you have a particular goal in mind but we do care how you do it. We want to make sure that you’re doing it properly, make sure that it’s specified for you. Make sure that it’s unique to your needs and wants. And then, yeah, so what it is that we’re going to do is provide as many relatable means to help you do so. More specifically, on our ‘view and vote’ section, every month we bring forward two particular trainers that showcase in a bio type interview where we show what it is that they do, why they do it and the message that they want to impress. Then to impress a little more public interaction, we have the voting system where it is that after you have watched the two trainers, you would vote for the individual that you best associate with. And then at the end of the month, the person with the most votes becomes trainer of the month and then they go on against all the other trainers of the month to vie for trainer of the year.

Spencer: So Anthony, what motivated you to start Train or be Trained?

Anthony: Basically what happened is that, as a health care practitioner or anybody that basically cares about helping the end user or the client or the patient, I think you really have to focus on not just their reactive care but more importantly, their proactive care. How do we actually keep them from coming in and presenting, their particular issues and problems that they have in the first place. And of course, you can sit back and tell them ‘you know, you need to be a little bit more proactive in your approach’ but a lot of people in this day and age are not really enchanted with the concept of actually taking measures to be healthy. They just find it either A it’s too cumbersome or they don’t have enough time to do so. But fitness is a little easier for people to sit back and embrace in the sense that number one, the rewards are a lot more pleasing and I think that they are a lot more embraceable and they are easier to ascertain I think in the sense of ‘woah, you can go the thirty day this, or you can go on the sixty day this, or look what I achieved in just a month’. And so, if we sit back and we look at, if you embrace fitness from a proper perspective, it can not only be good for your standing health but also your long standing health too. But of course, when it comes to fitness, it comes down to the educators or who are basically teaching measures of fitness. So our attention has to turn to the fitness professionals. Now, there are a wide array of different professionals and of course, a wide array of different mentalities, some that do and some that don’t. But I’m not really going to focus on that, I’m just going to focus on the individuals that I think not only embrace a nice measure of foundational experience, empirical experience but more so, underlying with a strong denominator of passion for the individual. ‘Why do you do this?’ Not because I like working out, not because it’s easy. I really care about helping people, I want to better people’s lives. Not just the lives of my clients or anything like that, but as many people as possible. And so that’s why it is that I basically started this in a sense of how do we reach as many people as possible to let them take their fitness into their own hands. Why do you do what it is that you do?

Spencer: I remember friends of mine telling me they had gone to see certain trainers at certain gyms and they would expect the trainer to be watching what they’re doing and coaching them through everything but the trainer would be on their cell phone and sending text messages and stuff like that so there definitely is a bit of a gap between the trainers that really care and the ones that are just there to make money or pick up girls, whatever it may be. So what have you learned through running Train or be Trained?

Anthony: The most important thing is that, I was a little bit frustrated initially when of course, I got out of school and I was like ‘oh I want to change the world and I want everyone to be healthier and that’s what I’m going to do. I’m going to teach everyone to be healthy and to take measures of their health and fitness into their own hands and what not’. And, it’s not to say that people are lazy, yes there are certain people that are lazy, yes there are certain people that just don’t know what to do or they’re scared or they think that it’s too involved to take measures of fitness and health into their own hands. But what I have found through doing this because I approach and deal with so many different mentalities and ideologies is that there is a person out there for everybody. Take me for instance, if you’re in front of me and you’re very aggressive and you have that type of personality, I’m like ‘eugh’. I’m going to want to take a step back. And a lot of people would feel the same way. But then there’s a lot of people that need that to get them motivated, to get them hyped. There’s a lot of people that are out there that are like ‘you know what, you’ve never had a baby before, you don’t understand what it means to basically go through what it is that I’m going through, you don’t know what it is that I’m going through. I have to go to school for sixteen hours a day, then I have to go to work or whatever. How can you possibly understand what it is that I do, when all you do is work ten hours a day. How do you sit back and relate to me knowing that I’ve been overweight for all of my life and nothing I do works. Who are you to tell me. Who are you to basically sit back and tell me how to work out when, you know what, yeah, you eat your protein, you eat your meat and all that stuff but I’m a vegan and I want to do it my way and you’re telling me to do it your way’. People want to feel who it is that they’re sitting back and dealing with and the more people that we have, the more people that we present is the more feedback that I get, ‘hey, you know what, I never knew that there was a person like that out there for me’. And that’s one of the biggest lessons that I’ve learned is that there are people there just waiting to be conjoined or aligned with their particular type of professional. And once again, as long as the message number one, is noteworthy in the sense they know what it is they are talking about and basically gives them that particular information that people can embrace, people are going to be a little bit more attentive. We all have filters, to shift the sense from the non-sense, in the sense that ‘you know what, hey, that actually makes sense, let me try that’. As opposed to that ‘okay, I’ll do it, okay I’ll do it’. So basically, stroke those filters, stroke those filters. And there’s so many people out there that are just basically waiting for that professional that they can resonate with and that’s just added incentive for me to keep on doing what it is that I’m doing. Because every month as you see the mentalities and the ideologies are so very different. I had a martial arts instructor the month before, I had an individual that basically trains dogs, the month before and what not, and people want to know that. People want to know that there’s different mentalities and there’s not just one set way of doing it. You know, ‘I don’t have to work like that, I don’t have to eat like that, I don’t have to have a mentality like that’.

Spencer: Yeah, it’s not one size fits all.

Anthony: Exactly, exactly.

Spencer: I’ve noticed that as Train or Be Trained has developed, more and more trainers are getting involved from more and more cities. What future plans do you have for Train or Be Trained?

Anthony: Well, like I said before, there are so many different mentalities out there but more important, there are so many different people that are sitting at home that basically want to be involved in fitness in some way, shape or form, that either A, they don’t feel that fitness is for them because what they’re reading or what they’re hearing does not align with their thought process. Or, they just feel like they can’t do it because ‘you guys don’t understand my position, you don’t understand my position’. And once again, if they are outstretched in different parts, just say for instance Canada or the province and what not, then guess what, we want them to know that there’s a trainer that’s very relatable in their particular area. Because while a lot of video messages are good and while the online thing is good, sometimes at the end of the day, if you invoke their enthusiasm that much, sometimes it turns into ‘I’ve tried this at home now, I’ve tried this on my own now and you know what, I’d actually like to go and meet this person, I’d actually like to go employ this person’. And once again, it would be very nice to know that they’re within reach. So, it’s like how do we connect the trainers with the individuals as well. So, the whole thing is when people call me up and they’re like ‘hey, you know what, I’m visiting Barrie, do you have a trainer up in Barrie’. ‘I’m visiting Guelph, I really like the mentality that you guys have with your showcase or whatever, with all those different trainers that you post for. Do you have a person in Guelph?’ Of course I do. ‘Do you have a person in Gracebridge?’ Of course, I do, check this person out. And if this person or whatever like that, can’t help you, or if this person or whatever like that, does not focus strictly on plyometrics or doesn’t strictly focus on weights, talk to them. Because you’ve already sat back and know the type of mentality and the underlying denominator that they have and they might be able to recommend you someone that’s very like hearted, like minded but like hearted as well. I basically want to reach not only as many people as possible but as many trainers as possible so people have access to them.

Spencer: It actually reminds me of, you know those websites, I think one is called ‘home stars’, but it’s like a website and you go to it and you see all the general contractors in a given area and then there’s ratings for each one. And people post reviews you know like ‘I hired John to come to my house and do this and he did a great job’ or whatever. It’s almost like you’re doing that for trainers to help people out in a way.

Anthony: Yes and no. And the reason why I sit back and I say that is because what we’re doing is a little bit deeper than that. Because, take for instance when you sit back and you’re like ‘okay, what type of trainers do we have on this show?’ Of course, I’m going to sit back and I’m going to say like ‘oh, good trainers’ but what differentiates a good trainer from a not so good trainer? It’s like in any particular type of vocation or profession, it’s a mix of cognitive experience – Do you know what it is that you are actually doing? Do you have the foundational skills and the foundational knowledge to be doing what it is that you’re doing? And what else do you bring to the game? More so, importantly, empirical experience – stuff that basically you’ve tried and tested over the years. You’ve failed at it, you’ve excelled at it, you’ve revamped it but then also as the years go by, you’ve adapted, you adjust and what not. And it’s a combination of two because experience and education and knowledge alone is not just based on theory because you could know as much as possible and you go to apply it and womp, womp. Or, you sit back and you don’t know enough theory but because you’ve been in the game for twenty five, thirty years and that way is tried, tested and true, you might be doing the wrong thing over and over and over. So it’s a nice mix. So basically when you sit and you see the questions that are answered in the script, not in the script but in the videos per se, there’s about five different segments in each different video and it’s based off of a question that the trainer had answered previously. And all of these questions are based off of what’s like ‘Bloom’s Learning Theory’ so there’s three sections in regards to cognitive ascertation, where basically we assess their knowledge, then there is effective, so basically ‘what are your values, your beliefs’ and ‘what are your thoughts of what it is that you do and what you want to impress’ and of course, psychomotor which combines the two particular processes. So people will understand that or people don’t really need to know that but again, we’re answering these particular questions and people are seeing the particular videos and they’re like ‘hey, you know what, you touched on so many different aspects’. It’s because all the particular stuff they post for it is based on those particular questions. So, you’re not just getting a particular good individual, you’re getting an individual that’s sitting back and letting you know not only what they do, why they do it. And then of course, what it is that they wish to impress too. So it’s not just a video resume ‘Hi, I’m John, I’m from dadadadadah, and I train’. No, no, no, no, no, no, why, why, why. And those questions should be sufficed before it is that you even approach, sitting back and approaching a trainer.

Spencer: Why do you think there are a number of trainers who don’t meet a high standard of education and knowledge.

Anthony: Once again, I’m not going to focus too much on the trainers per se, I’m going to focus once again, more so from a generalised perspective in any particular vocation. So take the instance that you were walking to a particular department store and you’re looking for something and you approach a salesperson and you’re like ‘hey, can you tell me about dedahdedahdedah’. And then they give you that blank stare like ‘eh, I don’t know’. ‘What do you mean you don’t know. You’re working here so why is it that you can’t help me or whatever’. Then you approach another individual and that individual will not only tell you where it is, what you should get but the different options and if you have any problems or whatever like that, feel free to come back to me again. They’d been working there the same amount of time, they’re being paid the same amount of money. What’s the difference? It’s their underlying motivation. Why did you get into this particular field, aspect or vocation in the first place? And that’s not for us to decide, nor is it for us to sit back and discern. But what is, the onus that we have is to sit back and ask questions in the sense of ‘hey, so why it is that you do what you do’? ‘Can you suffice not only my needs, but my wants’? Let’s say for instance that we each go and we take a two year program. Now I get into your vehicle and before I get into the passenger seat, I’ve got to move a bunch of books, on physical anatomy, physiology, understanding the mentalities of a workout person. I go to your house. Under your coffee table all you see are magazines, focused on what? Focused on your vocation, on your love. There are people that do things from a part time perspective and there are people that do things from a full time perspective. What is your underlying passion and motivation? What do you want from this? What do you want to achieve? You’ll know, if you ask the right questions. You’ll know if you sit back and look for the right things. And once again, the onus is on us. We have to take more of an individualised approach, in the sense of, that mechanic comes out and says ‘well its 265 dollars’. ‘But I thought it was only supposed to be 69.99’? ‘Well it’s 265’. ‘You don’t really need to know whatever I’ve done but it’s 265’. ‘What! No, no, no, no, I need to know why it’s 265 dollars’. You would make that much fuss with a vehicle, why don’t you do that with your body? Think about it. Who cares about the profession? We have to take the onus to find out who it is we’re dealing with and why it is that we’re dealing with them. Once again, why it is that I find it so very important to post forward these videos in the way that they are so people can sit back, put into their filter, check the sense and the non-sense and be like ‘you know what, I like what that person said’. Or ‘I didn’t really agree with that. Let me ask them a little bit more questions, how to suffice whatever it is that I have left in my body’.

Spencer: As a personal trainer, can you give someone that’s looking to hire a personal trainer but hasn’t really done anything yet, can you give them some advice on things to look out for, like if you meet with a personal trainer, do you just hire them like that or is there some questions that they should ask, anything that they should know beforehand?

Anthony: People ask me that all the time and the first question I ask them is ‘what do you want’? ‘What do you need’? ‘Hmm, I think I’m in the mood for chicken parmesan’. I’m not going to go to a Chinese food restaurant dude. Even though it’s a restaurant and he can sit back and says ‘no, no, no, I can make that, I have a recipe book and can make it’. Dude, I know exactly where I’m going to go for what it is that I want. If I want to learn a little bit more about biomechanics and physiology, I’m not going to go a particular trainer that focuses strictly on weight loss. I’m not going to go to a trainer that focuses strictly on, let’s just say for instance Olympic dead lifting. Know your particular wants and needs but more importantly, know what it is that that trainer actually does. If a trainer sits back and says that I can do all and everything, sure he might do all and everything but even a general physician or a GP, when you go into the emergency room and what not and you come in with a particular fracture, you’re going to get seen by a general GP who is going to try and address and deal with you as best as possible at that particular time. But you’re going to get a follow up appointment to meet with a what? A specialist. An orthopaedic specialist more specifically that has more foundational, accruable, presentable knowledge in that particular aspect where the fracture is concerned. Now once again, of course you know the term being a master of one as opposed to many. And that’s what I really think that you should focus on. What do you want specifically? If you want to increase your speed and athletic ability, I think that you should be working with a trainer as such. Not a trainer that focuses strictly on weight loss. ‘I can help you lose sixty pounds, dedahdedahdedah’. Once again, they might be able to help you in that particular regard but be a little bit more specific. Know what your needs and wants are and know what that trainer specialises in. Start asking that trainer, ‘what do you specialise in?’ And hear what it is that he’ll basically say.

Spencer: Do you think that it’s important for a trainer to be in good shape themselves?

Anthony: It’s so easy to sit back and say yes to that question but again we have to define from a personalised perspective what does good shape mean? Because for me, being in good shape might be totally different than for you. For me being in good shape means being able to do all and everything that I need to do on a day to day basis with as little hesitation or restriction as possible. For another individual being in shape means that you’re cut. You’re so cut that you’ve got those washboard abs. Being in shape to another individual might be ‘oh my gosh, I don’t want my legs to rub’. So once again, you have to think about number one, what does good shape actually mean. I have a particular trainer and I am just impressed by her in so many different regards. But if you just took a standing look at her, you’d be like ‘wow, this trainer is a little bit overweight’. But then you don’t know that she lost almost 180 pounds and she’s consistently losing 180 pounds. So I think the thing is, I think number one, in any measure of fitness or health that begins with mentality in the sense of number one, defining for yourself what does in shape mean and then again, ask that trainer, what does in shape mean to them. Associate basically with who it is that you want to associate with. I’m not going to sit back and train with a trainer that basically looks like he has 300 pounds of natural muscle because blah, blah. Basically a trainer that looks like an Olympic bodybuilder because that’s not the type of body that I want. That’s not the type of ‘in shape’, particular type of physicality that I want. So, it’s a personal definition of what it means ‘in shape’.

Spencer: Moving on a bit, can you tell us a bit about your company Achieva Fitness and Wellness?

Anthony: Achieva Fitness and Wellness is my own corporation that I started. Achieva being helping individuals achieve health and wellness through education. But again, I don’t like to use the term education too much anymore nowadays because I think a better word would be awareness. Presenting information for individuals that basically they can digest, it takes good to them. So outside of my day to day practice where I work independently with individuals, I do community wellness seminars, I do corporate wellness seminars, corporate and community consultations and Train or be Trained is just another medium for me to reach as many people as possible. That’s why I started the corporation. Because outside of my regular day to day, I want to give back in some way, shape or form to the people in the sense of ‘how can I provide for them, as many embraceable and relatable messages of fitness and awareness. How can I teach this person to go ahead and teach this person. How can I teach this person to go ahead and teach this person’. And once again, Train or be Trained provides a megaphone and a platform for those in the health and fitness professions that I find, really want to do above and beyond their own vocation. They have the same mentality of ‘while it’s good working with my clients, how do I teach more people. How do I reach more people because I have a message and I just want it to get out there’. We live more and more as you see in a cyber age so why not use these particular tools even though sometimes they confuse the heck out of me and what not. But this is just another medium for me to reach as many people as possible. I’m greedy, I want to reach everybody. So that’s what Achieva stands for. It’s just basically ‘how do I reach as many people as possible with the tools that I have’.

Spencer: What message would you say is most common that you’re trying to give to people? Do you think there are messages that are lacking in the fitness area that you’re trying to push forward?

Anthony: Why do I do what it is that I’m doing? ‘Why are you doing that exercise’? ‘Because the book said so’. ‘Because the trainer said so’. Come on. Individuality okay? Our society is becoming so dependent and respondent, where people are walking around like ‘okay, okay, well the book said so, the TV said so, you said so, she said so’. But what’s your body saying? Start listening to your body. It doesn’t really matter about approaching people from a health or fitness perspective. I want them to start creating a more translatable relationship with their body because at the end of the day, you, are just going about and doing, and your body is basically just there to protect and maintain twenty four seven. You have a symbiotic relationship with your body and in any particular relationship, it doesn’t matter if it’s professional, if it is normal, or if it’s intimate, the most important component is always going to be communication. Do you know what it is that your body is saying? Is your body saying that it’s okay, is your body saying that there’s something wrong? That’s health. Your body telling you what it can do and what it cannot do – that’s fitness. Start listening to your body. Why do you do what it is that you do? And is it for you? If not, you got to be asking yourself. You got to be talking to yourself a little bit more.

Spencer: You focus on restorative care and I guess prehab and that sort of thing. Do you think that’s often left out of people’s training programs or whatever it may be?

Anthony: Once again, it depends on the individual. It depends on the individual and what they want to achieve and are they giving a lot of thought to what it is they are doing. Take for instance, the topic of stretching. Stretching is a really big thing but it’s very debatable because this person could say this and this person could say that. Once again, when it comes down to professionals, our job is to educate, breathe forth awareness for people to either relate to and then hopefully embrace. And that’s our job. Take for instance, the topic of stretching. I can give you the theory of this and the theory of that, but then again, trainer 2000 could sit back and say this, a physio could say this, a chiro could say this and whatever. So what I’m trying to do is pull forth a presentable situation. So our muscles, tendons and ligaments are striated fibres very much like your hair. So why is it that you comb your hair? To basically avoid knots and tangles. In essence to make it more manageable. So, the straighter or the looser that your hair is, the more manageable the hair’s going to be. Once again, are muscles tendons and ligaments are striated. If they’re knotted, there’s going to be a little bit of tension. It’s going to be a little bit tight. If you are throwing a ball and you throw the ball like this, it doesn’t really matter how much biceps or how much muscle that you have, you’re not going to get that motion. You’re not going to get that effect that it is that you want unless it is that you extend and use the particular limb or muscle to its full capacity or your capability. So the more range of motion, the more usage that you have of the muscles or of your limbs, at the end of the day, you’ll get better motion, better effect or ‘hey, you’re really strong when you throw that ball’, or better strength. So once again, it’s for us to sit back and really impress upon people as practitioners, as educators. When we have that particular role of teaching people what to do is to present them with tools that they can embrace, they can digest and then choose, choose to carry about. As opposed to just ‘okay, okay’. So I don’t know if that response answered your question in full but like I said before, I like to play advocate in the sense of when someone’s just sitting back and approaching things from this perspective, to try to broaden people’s horizons, to look at things from more than one or different avenue.

Spencer: Okay, I like that. So lastly, what are your future plans and where can people learn more about you and what you’re working on?

Anthony: As far as Train or Be Trained is concerned, I think that right now, I have that excuse type of mentality in the sense that you say that fitness is not for you because it’s hard for people to relate to you when it comes to your fitness needs – no, no more. ‘Well, I don’t have any time to do it, I don’t have time to go to the gym’ – we have people for that. ‘I don’t have… – no, we have people for that. No, we have people for that, what’s your excuse now? No excuses, okay. But then, the whole thing is, as you know, in any particular perspective, it doesn’t matter if you’re looking at a fitness perspective, a health perspective, or just living perspective. Nutrition, what it is that you put into your body is so very vital to any goals, eighty percent, eighty percent vital. So, I want to start focusing a little bit more so on nutrition, so I’m telling you something is coming, something is coming because we are basically going to provide you with no excuses when it comes to nutrition. So that’s coming. That’s definitely, definitely, definitely coming. And as for me and Achieva, everything that I do is just how to bring about more embraceable and relatable forms of fitness and health and awareness for people to embrace. You know, it begins with us. If we really think that there’s a problem or an issue with people being healthy or fit instead of complaining about it, let’s do something about it. So anything that you see coming up from me is definitely going to be underlying, the message underlying is going to be ‘hey, we want you to sit back and look at this’. Think about this. And you can go to the Train or Be Trained website People want to find out who trains. You can go to my own personal website at and yeah, I’m here. Get at me for everything that you want.


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  • Tania Dakka

    Great interview, Spencer. People really do need to be careful about who they choose to help them train. We interviewed one the other day and we could tell right away that he was fishing for cash instead of results. We walked away. Thanks for the awesome share!

    • Spencer Morris

      Glad you were able to pick up on that before spending money. Many of the people I’ve met that work at gym’s are more concerned with sales than getting you or I healthy.

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