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Since the last post was touching on the professionalism of the group fitness instructor, lets keep that line of thinking for the personal trainer.

Within the past 6 days I have been in two conversations on this topic. One with a client and the second with a “professional” trainer. It was obvious to see that from the professional as well as the consumer perspective, there are differing views of what, how, and who a professional trainer does, acts, and is. You’re also not going to believe this… but neither of those conversations had anything to do with the topic of accreditation vs. national exam.

The Client: “Here are my observations from being a member of a gym for 20 years…. I challenge people to spend some time at these gymnasiums and watch the personal trainers.  (I challenge personal trainers to watch other personal trainers work at the gymnasium.)  Typically the client follows the trainer around like a little lap dog.  I had a personal trainer extensively in 1990, 2001, and 2008 (3 different gyms).  The fitness programs were all the same, in fact I could have got the same program from Tom Platz out of my 1983 copy of Muscle magazine.  McTraining at its best.  Of course there were always one or two “cutting edge” exercises.  Most likely exercise that involve a machine only that gym offers, or something so ridiculous it requires a partner and something you most likely would never do on your own….”

The client went on to say a number of positive things about his current experience, but this isn’t a toot my own horn blog. The point here is, are you training your clients similar to this clients observations? I’ve been in the gyms and I’ve received the reviews on some from the working vacations. I know there are far too many that devalue every other trainer by their latte in hand, count the reps, cookie cutter training style. Step up to be a professional trainer and find constructive ways to encourage other trainers to do the same.
Do you see it differently?

The Professional Trainer: “I’ve been in this business longer than the certification companies making money an trainers and sending out unqualified people who have never even lifted a weight but who pass a written test based on memorization. No thanks. I appreciate your position as the representative for the resort. If folks don’t know how to think outside the box, I certainly am not going to argue the point.”

Here is an example of another side of “professional”. This trainer isn’t wrong in implying that just because you pass a written test that you don’t know everything. Likewise, just because this trainer has some gym & bodybuilding experience and enough genetic potential that they even won several competitions, it doesn’t mean they are qualified, safe, or current in training techniques for working with varied populations.

We love experience in our various fitness professional programs, but the experience must be built on a solid foundation of education and kept current through required continuing education programming. Pride in your profession should be a key motivator to keep the trainer acting like a professional. In the client case above that means that there are more than exercise protocols in training clients. Their is also customer service and realizing that all are not built the same and even when they are close, they notice your programming when it looks like the same cookie you gave the other client. In the trainer case, being professional is more than simply resting on your past experience, understanding that scientific research continually identifies new realities on personal health as well as varied and more efficient & safe procedures for achieving those personal health goals.

The certification doesn’t do it alone… heck, I even past a “top shelf” certification exam, but it is an essential foundation. Invest in yourself, increase your professionalism, and in turn you will increase the value and respect of our profession as a whole.

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