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The Personal Training Paradigm

Oct 10, 2010

The Personal Training Paradigm

Recently I read an article in the Wall Street Journal titled "Getting Fit without Pain". In the article it explains that many people over the age of 50 are going to physical therapists to kick-start a safe fitness program. It continues to explain that the general personal trainer establishment is not prepared to train you properly based upon your special needs (i.e. injuries, ailments, symptoms, etc). You may be surprised to hear this, but I absolutely agree. Conversely, I can also argue that not all physical therapists or others in the medical establishment are prepared to develop long-term fitness and health solutions.

For now though, I will address the personal training paradigm. To begin, when you think of a personal trainer you may have visions in your head of someone wearing a bandana and camouflage pants yelling at you (Biggest Loser comes to mind). On the other hand, you may see the trainer who is barely paying attention looking in the mirror or playing on a smart-phone. I have seen and heard of other types that would be considered less than professional.

Unlike many other professions, personal trainers are not licensed professionals. Considering the amount of chronic diseases and acute injuries that are currently present, this is very unfortunate. Weekly, I hear stories about trainers who hurt someone, don’t show up to appointments on time, bring personal issues into the sessions, etc. Often times, many of the injuries that occur are during group settings (such as boot camps and group circuit training programs). Problem here is that this is not “personal” training, though it is advertised that way. What’s really unfortunate is that there are trainers that thrive on hurting their clients and pushing them to the point they vomit.

However, I must point out that many professions, including the medical establishment were not licensed at one time. I also must point out that just because you’re licensed does not make you a professional nor does it mean you’re guaranteed to get the best of services. With that said, I have to mention that not all personal trainers or personal trainer organizations are the same. There is a dichotomy that exists.

In one camp, there are the trainers who are often under-educated and very inexperienced. Many health clubs hire trainers like this as their concern is not providing the best service, but improving the bottom line. There is usually a lack of guidance and employee training. As a result, there is high turn-over of trainers.

In the other camp, there are the personal trainers who are very knowledgeable in anatomy and physiology, nutrition, contraindications to exercise, program design, proper form and technique, et cetera. Usually, these are the trainers who are degreed in exercise physiology or have at least gone through a credible program such as the National Personal Training Institute (a 500 credit hour program). Moreover, their concentration in continual education is in holistic approaches verses dogmatic approaches such as body building or unvaried program design. These trainers do a great job of identifying risk factors (i.e. heart conditions, orthopedic conditions). This camp will also do the medical clearances and refer to medical professionals when appropriate.

It’s because of the paradigm that I prefer to be referred to as a fitness coach instead of personal trainer. Unlike most personal trainer establishments, FT North Buckhead(as is FT Point Loma) is not a whiz, bang, boom personal training establishment. We look at the entire individual to create a customized program based upon the current fitness level, habits, and lifestyle of the individual. From there, it’s about taking a safe and steady progression to achieve long-term results versus quick fixes.

Written by one of our sister studios Fitness Coaches, Kelly Huggins, A-CPT


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