One of our ambassadors, Shelley Lask of Body Positive Health & Fitness, has pulled together some common myths of being a Personal Trainer and walks us through the reality, check it out below:
Myth: Being a Personal Trainer keeps you fit
Reality: A good Personal Trainer will observe their client from all angles while they exercise in order to correct technique. This is close to impossible to do while we are exercising ourselves, so most of the time we are at work we are standing, kneeling or crouching in order to help our clients get the most out of their exercises – not working out! Fitting in our own workouts around a busy schedule is just as difficult for us as it is for the general public (so we can relate to the struggle!) – although knowing how to program exercises ourselves and having access to equipment does help.
Myth: Being a PT means you have to work in a gym
Reality: Working in a gym can be wonderful, but if it’s not for you, there are plenty of options. Many personal trainers work outdoors, in their own homes, in other people’s homes, at offices, in sporting clubs, at hotels, community centres, health clubs, on cruise ships… it’s about finding the environment that you prefer.
Myth: Being a PT means you’re qualified to write meal plans
Reality: Personal trainers are qualified and insured to provide general information about healthy eating in accordance with the Australian Guide to Healthy Eating. Writing meal plans is the domain of dietitians and university educated nutritionists. The good news is that having strong relationships with these allied health professionals improves the services PTs are able to provide to their clients, and can improve their businesses too. Win win.
Myth: Being a PT means you can train anyone
Reality: Personal trainers are qualified to train people that fall within what we call the “healthy population”. When it comes to people with complex health conditions, rather than prescribe exercises independently, best practice is for clients to consult with a GP who can refer them to an Exercise Physiologist to provide the trainer with specific guidelines, contraindications and recommendations for safe and effective training. In more complex cases, for example clients with cardiac issues, an Exercise Physiologist might be the best person to train the client – but they’ll be able to make the assessment.
Myth: Being a Personal Trainer means you can rehabilitate injuries
Reality: It’s outside the professional scope of practice for personal trainers to independently prescribe rehabilitation exercises, BUT we can work in with physiotherapists and other allied health professionals to deliver rehabilitation exercises that they have prescribed as part of the clients program. These professionals can also guide us on ways to add value to our client’s programs through targeted exercises, which ensures that everything we’re doing is safe for the injury – and can be part of a fruitful cross referral relationship.
Myth: Being a Personal Trainer means you need to be “in shape”
Reality: In shape comes in lots of shapes! There are also many types of fitness that require different attributes and skillsets. While it is vital that personal trainers have a deep understanding of the area in which they are working, and past experience is valuable, it’s not essential that they are currently personally involved in that activity or have the same fitness level as the people they are training. Knowledge, coaching skills, communication skills, a drive to learn and improve, as well as empathy and good interpersonal skills go a lot further than a six pack or a six foot jump.
Myth: Being a Personal Trainer is only for young people
Reality: The population of people who access fitness training services is made up of a variety of age groups, and this should be reflected in the diversity of people working in the industry as well. Clients often (but not always) want to work with someone they can relate to, and we do have an aging population, so there are plenty of opportunities. Moreover, maturity and life experience can be great attributes for an empathetic trainer.
Myth: Being a PT lacks growth opportunities
Reality: There are such a wide variety of interest areas to explore, different types of clients to work with, professional development opportunities to take, further education courses to complete, methodologies to explore and environments to work in that you’d be hard pressed to find a more interesting area to work in. Plus, for those who are interested, there are also opportunities to move into areas such as management, blogging, owning a premises, writing a book, presenting workshops or delivering training courses. The options are endless, and you never know where your career will take you.