It always intrigues me to learn the real reason why someone seeks my services. Sure, on the surface it seems obvious – people hire trainers to help them “get in shape.” But what does that even mean, really?
Some people want help learning proper technique because they’re new to exercise and they’ve been brainwashed to believe it’s a dangerous endeavour (it’s not, or at least it doesn’t have to be). Others have highly stressful lives and they’re too tired at the end of the day to marshal their mental resources. These people simply want someone who knows what they’re talking about to tell them what to do. Lately I’ve been noticing a new trend, one that’s becoming more visible as personal training continues to evolve from something ex-bodybuilders used to tinker with as a hobby into a legitimate profession open to anyone.
More and more, people are looking for personal trainers with the ability to act as a sort of multi-faceted medical practitioner. They want someone who they can turn to with questions about fitness, yes, but also questions about deeper concerns, issues like nutrition, sleep and mental health. It’s not uncommon for clients to come to me with existential maladies to match their physical ones; and in fact, I’ve had more than a few tell me I’ve been more helpful in addressing their woes than any doctor, shrink or physiotherapist. (To be clear, nobody should fire their family doctor or therapist in favour of a personal trainer. But the duties of a quality coach extend beyond fitness.)
“The mentality that trainers are just drill sergeants has significantly shifted,” said Tim Jones, CEO of Precision Nutrition (PN), during a phone call earlier this month. “Trainers are now being viewed more as coaches and health care providers.”
This is why it’s so important for trainers to have a broad skill set. Anyone with a clipboard and a whistle can structure a workout, but how well can you address those deeper issues that lie just below the surface? Industry leaders, like the brain trust at PN, have played an important role in facilitating this paradigm shift. Since 2005, PN has been at the forefront of fitness and health education, with their flagship nutrition certification now a standard requirement for every trainer worth their salt. This month they have launched a new Sleep, Stress Management and Recovery Coaching Certification, something Jones says will provide trainers with even more tools to help their clients.
“People develop very strong, trusting relationships with their personal trainers. We want to help trainers feel more credible and confident when responding to these new questions their clients are asking. We want to change the way trainers view themselves and the level of impact they can have on their clients’ lives.”
If it sounds like a stretch to place personal trainers in the same category as doctors and nurses, well, chances are you haven’t worked with a high-level coach. The best of the best operate on an entirely different level than your stereotypical rep-counter. They view fitness and health through a clinical lens, one that takes into view a complete and holistic perspective.
“We don’t really have the ability to have deep …….