“Revising” The Personal Trainer’s Role

Personal Training continually expands its role within the fitness and health industries. Personal Trainers are more than laborers that bark at their clients. Our role includes more than just putting together a few exercises with sets and reps. We are health care professionals and should see ourselves as a part of that industry. Personal trainers are not health care providers in the traditional sense. The job that we do does not diagnose nor treat disease. It diagnoses the unhealthy lifestyle that produces disease. Furthermore, it epitomizes the healthy lifestyle and provides instruction for substituting unhealthy habits for healthy habits. Personal trainers specialize in creating programs that produce fitness, which is a higher level of health than the absence of disease. That is a much more important endeavor than waiting for a person to become ill before taking action.

Personal trainers lead, instruct, and motivate individuals or groups in exercise activities, but should also be considered as subject matter experts in optimizing human functioning and performance. It should be common knowledge that this role prevents, treats, and cures chronic disease. I believe we need to make a few changes in our approach in order for the profession to be seen in that light. Our approach to how we learn, how we apply our knowledge, and where we work needs to change. Personal trainers are scientists, teachers, coaches, and business people. Many certifications are very skilled at teaching a philosophy of training; however, they do not focus too much on the sciences. As scientists, we must explore and master the basic sciences, movement sciences, nutritional sciences, behavioral sciences, coaching sciences, and principles of business. As teachers and coaches, we must understand learning styles and how to motivate people according to their individuality. And as business people, it is imperative that we apply business principles to grow as entrepreneurs.

The public needs us and our expertise in optimizing human functioning and performance. We are not traditional health care providers, but we positively impact health and disease. Extensive amounts of research has been done on the benefits of exercise and nutrition. Much of that evidence points to both having the ability to prevent and cure disease. If we understand our role and fulfill it with purpose, we will be of greater service to the public. We will impact legislation in our favor and move our industry into the forefront of health care. Finally, we will become beneficiaries of the economic benefits that we deserve.