If you’re looking for help, results, motivation and information in your quest for better health and fitness, a personal trainer is a great resource. Trainers have a wide range of expertise and are generally respected professionals (do be careful of uncertified trainers, but that is another blog post entirely). However, many people expect more of trainers than they are actually able to provide. Eager to give their clients what they want and need, some trainers fall into the trap of trying to sell services they are not qualified to provide. Consumers can save themselves a lot of frustration by knowing what to expect, and what NOT to expect, from a qualified personal trainer. Here is a short list of things personal trainers are and are not.
A personal trainer IS a great sounding board for your health and fitness challenges and trained in problem solving for these issues.
A personal trainer is NOT a psychologist. If you have an eating disorder or deeply seated issues that are keeping you from changing your habits, you may need additional help from one of these professionals. A good trainer will refer you if they believe it is necessary.
A personal trainer IS a good source for general nutrition information. Your trainer might help you use food diaries to address your eating patterns, educate you on nutrition and diet concepts and help you change to healthier nutritional habits.
A personal trainer is NOT a dietician or nutritionist, unless they are separately certified or licensed for these. It is out of the scope of practice for a trainer to prescribe specific meal plans or supplement regimens. Be careful of trainers who push a specific supplement or meal replacement line heavily. Some have done the research and truly believe in the products they offer. Others just want the extra cash.
An experienced personal trainer CAN make suggestions and give you exercises that may help your injury or pain patterns. A good trainer is armed with lots of information and exercises for general things: sore backs and knees; inflexible areas and general range of motion issues.
A personal trainer is NOT a physical therapist, unless separately licensed as such. Specific rehabilitation is not in the scope of practice of a personal trainer, so if you’ve just had surgery or a bad injury, ask your doctor whether you should be going to physical therapy.
A personal trainer is NOT a doctor, either. If you have any serious medical issues or suspect you might, talk to a doctor before hiring a trainer. A good trainer will get your fitness and medical history before you begin and refer you to a doctor if any red flags come up.
Within their scope of practice, trainers are great at getting results and helping people change their lives for the better. That’s why most of us got into the business in the first place – to help people. The best trainers will “stay in their lane”, refer to other qualified professionals when necessary, and focus on what they can do to help their clients get fit, strong and healthy for life.