Trainers: Remember Who You Are…

On the topic of fitness, I give equal time to articles from a clients perspective and articles from a trainers perspective. This one has a little of both.

It’s officially a trend.

In the world of personal training, many trainers have decided that mere strength and conditioning is not enough.
Instead of honing their craft and getting REALLY good at what they do, many have decided to broaden their scope of practice into some questionable areas. With that in mind, here is my top 5 “offenders” in the personal training world.

The Dietician:
Don’t get me wrong, diet advice and even some meal planning by a certified nutritionist is helpful and should be considered an important part of any training program. But when a trainer starts to spend 30+ minutes of EVERY session fine tuning the macronutrient ratio, you’ve got a problem. Yes, I know, almost every fitness goal is fueled by nutrition and this can account for 75% of your eventual results, but the minute details of a diet plan (if this kind of focus is actually needed) should be the job of an actual dietician.

The Soft Tissue Specialist:
This is a trainer that, like The Dietician, spends an inordinate amount of time doing something OTHER than strength and conditioning. In this case, it’s spending large parts of each session on a mat or massage table doing “soft tissue work.” The idea is nice, but what this is really accomplishing is minimal. It is difficult to remove adhesion even from an experienced and well educated soft tissue practitioner (like an ART specialist), and it is almost impossible to do without a targeted and very well educated hand. While a client may feel better from the brief inhibition of the muscle being worked on, this is largely a waste of time because the change is reflexive, short lived, and definitely not sustainable.

The Psychiatrist:
Again, as ANY trainer can attest to, there is a little therapy involved in what we do, it’s part of helping our clients reach their goal. However, the trainer that tasks themselves with being their clients psychiatrist is not only going far beyond their scope of practice, but could be doing some damage as well. A trainer should always offer an understanding ear for their clients, but remember that exercise is the therapy that we are experts at prescribing.

The Football Coach:
This is the trainer that forgets he/she is a strength and conditioning coach, and is instead a coach of a particular sport. We are in the business of creating better ATHLETES. Skill training and practice is better left to the actual sport coaches.

The Professor:
This trainer feels a compulsion to explain, in great and cumbersome detail, every aspect of every exercise the client is performing. This trainer will take long and unnecessary breaks in a training session to pontificate on general fitness topics to impress the client with their knowledge. The client’s time is better spent actually PERFORMING the exercise, versus sitting at a virtual desk taking notes for the next fitness exam.

I think all trainers are guilty of some of these, some of the time (I know I am of all of these, especially The Professor. As a matter of fact, to be a great trainer you have to do a LITTLE of all of these, and certainly be aware of the role of each of these in training a client well. The point is to stay on track, learn as much as you can about our craft, strive to be the best at what we are qualified to do, and apply it with precision. If a client is in need of supplemental help in reaching their fitness goal, make it your job to know the best specialist available to REFER them to.

We are an important part of the health and fitness equation. Let the experts at other crafts do what they do, and be the absolute best at what you do.

Matt Pirtle, MA CSCS

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