I wanted to know if a Fitness Coach was a true fitness professional or just a gimmick. From the research I’ve done, I have not been able to find any certifications that give an individual the professional title of Fitness Coach – all that comes up in a simple Google search are the various Personal Training certification options. And what I have discovered is that these new fitness coaches primarily get paid for inspiring their clients and changing lifestyle habits. (To me, that’s an “exercise buddy”. Do you pay your best friend to go to 7:00 pm Boot Camp class with you?) Let’s say a program worked well for them so they want to share their successes with others. I applaud these individuals for having the determination to change their body and mind for the better – it’s not an easy feat! But what qualifies them to train others, other than having the benefit of an experience that worked for their body and their lifestyle? This concerns me because they could be putting their clients at risk by performing unsafe exercises or giving them dangerous advice.
A great Certified Personal Trainer not only has the education and experience to train their clients, but they also inspire healthy lifestyle habits and cater to their clients’ needs. Personal training is not just about dictating exercises and telling someone what to eat. It’s also about interaction with their client and having an understanding of different personalities and emotions. You can’t just simply throw exercises at a client and expect them to make progress, or tell them to eat a gallon of yogurt (because that’s what you did to lose weight) and expect them to thrive in their diet. They will assess you, design a program around your needs and level of conditioning, continually evolve the workouts to help you reach your goals and help you make healthier choices on a day-to-day basis.
Personal training certifications exist for a reason – both to protect the fitness consumer and the trainer (against liability and lawsuits if injury occurs). Certifications are based on medically accepted science, safe protocols, good judgment and sound research, among other countless safety measures. On the contrary, a Fitness Coach may have got their job just because they look good, lost weight or are really “into fitness” themselves. What works for one individual may not be appropriate for the individuals he/she trains. That’s why proper education, experience and knowledge that comes from hiring a Certified Personal Trainer is so very important!
The credentials from a Personal Trainer should include:
- Are they certified from a recognizable organization? Some organizations include, but are not limited to: Canadian Fitness Professionals (Canfitpro), Certified Professional Trainers Network (CPTN), Canadian Society of Exercise Physiology (CSEP).
- Do they have a degree in the field? These degrees could include, but are not limited to: Physical & Health Education, Sports Management, Kinesiology, Exercise Sport Science.
- How many years of service do they have in the field?
- Are they trained in First Aid & CPR?
- What is their commitment to continuing education?
It’s important to have a Personal Trainer with all the necessary qualifications, but it’s just as important to know how they interact with people and what their philosophy of training is. Find someone you are comfortable with and able to be transparent with. Do not do something just because they say it will work – if you are uncomfortable with an exercise, let them know. If they are truly qualified, then they will be able to find another exercise that will benefit you just as much.
My point in writing this blog is to make sure you do not fall into any gimmicks that claim you will get a great body by following some else’s successful program. The truth is, my strength and knowledge of fitness, health and nutrition came from my own desire to learn, my own trial and error and my own passion for this career. Experience, both in my own programs and with my clients, continually teaches me. My certification is the icing on the cake!
A few years back, I created a video about what to look for in a Personal Trainer – the seven points I emphasized in this video still stand true. Check it out at: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fKWamdZXmxA.