IDEA Code of Ethics for Personal Trainers

Sep 01, 2008

As a member of IDEA Health & Fitness Association, I will be guided by the best interests of the client and will practice within the scope of my education and knowledge. I will maintain the education and experience necessary to appropriately train clients; will behave in a positive and constructive manner; and will use truth, fairness and integrity to guide all my professional decisions and relationships.
  1. Always be guided by the best interestes of the client.
    1. Remember that a personal trainer’s primary responsibility is to the client’s safety, health and welfare; never compromise this responsibility for your own self-interest, personal advantage or monetary gain.
    2. Recommend products or services only if they will benefit the client’s health and well-being, not because they will benefit you financially or occupationally.
    3. If recommending products or services will result in financial gain for you or your employer, be aware that disclosure to the client may be appropriate.
    4. Base the number of training sessions on the client’s needs, not your financial requirements.
  2. Maintain appropriate professional boundaries
    1. Never exploit—sexually, economically or otherwise—a professional relationship with a supervisor, an employee, a colleague or a client.
    2. Respect the client’s right to privacy. A client’s conversations, behavior, results and—if appropriate—identity should be kept confidential.
    3. Use physical touching appropriately during training sessions, as a means of correcting alignment and/or focusing a client’s concentration on the targeted area. Immediately discontinue the use of touch at a client’s request or if the client displays signs of discomfort.
    4. Focus on the business relationship, not the client’s personal life, except as appropriate.
    5. When you are unable to maintain appropriate professional boundaries or to work within the legitimate agenda of the training relationship, whether because of your own attitudes and behaviors or those of the client, either terminate the relationship or refer the client to an appropriate professional, such as another trainer, a medical doctor or a mental health specialist.
    6. Avoid sexually oriented banter and inappropriate physical contact.
  3. Maintain the education and experience necessary to appropriately train clients.
    1. Continuously strive to keep abreast of the new developments, concepts and practices essential to providing the highest-quality services to clients.
    2. Recognize your limitations in services and techniques, and engage only in activities that fall within the boundaries of your professional credentials and competencies. Refer clients to other professionals for issues that fall beyond the boundaries of a personal fitness trainer’s profession or your current competencies.
    3. For health screening, fitness assessment, prudent progression and exercise technique, follow the standards outlined by professionals in the fields of medicine and health and fitness.
  4. Use truth, fairness and integrity to guide all professional decisions and relationships.
    1. In all professional and business relationships, clearly demonstrate and support honesty, integrity and trustworthiness.
    2. Accurately represent your qualifications.
    3. In advertising materials, be truthful and fair. When describing personal training services, be guided by the primary obligation of helping the client develop informed judgments, opinions and choices. Avoid ambiguity, sensationalism, exaggeration and superficiality.
    4. Make your contract language clear and understandable.
    5. Administer consistent pricing and procedural policies.
    6. Never solicit business from another trainer’s client. When interacting with clients of other trainers, be open and honest so those clients cannot interpret the interaction as solicitation of their business.
    7. If you work for a business that finds clients and assigns them to you, recognize that the clients belong to that business.
  5. Show respect for clients and fellow professionals
    1. Act with integrity in your relationships with colleagues, facility owners and other health professionals to help ensure that each client benefits optimally from all professionals.
    2. b. Never discriminate based on race, creed, color, gender, age, physical handicap or nationality.
    3. When disagreements or conflicts occur, focus on behavior, factual evidence and nonderogatory forms of communication, not on judgmental statements, hearsay, the placing of blame or other destructive responses.
    4. Present fitness information completely and accurately in order to help the client make informed decisions.
  6. Uphold a professional image through conduct and appearence
    1. Avoid smoking, substance abuse and unhealthy eating habits.
    2. Speak and dress in a manner that increases the client’s comfort level.

IDEA Trainer Success, Volume 5, Issue 4

© 2008 by IDEA Health & Fitness Inc. All rights reserved. Reproduction without permission is strictly prohibited.


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  • illysa hom

    @ Steph & Hannah- I empathize with you guys... Because I've been in comparable situations. If I may help you, here's what I learned: if you don't feel right, don't do it. Because you're probably right, in MOST cases, not all, but MOST this person/people are just looking for a friend and NOT a personal trainer in the traditional sense to enhance their fitness. So, your options are 1. Attempt to create boundaries and maintain this person as a personal training client. 2. Decide if you want to be friends with this person instead of training him or her and become friends with them. 3. Follow your gut- if occasional dinner feels right to you- then go for it but ask yourself WHY they want to have you over for dinner;)
    Commented Nov 30, 2014
  • Al Scardino

    I work with a trainer that freely gives advice to clients, in relation to exercise and nutrition, other than her own, knowing that they are working with another trainer. How do you feel about this, and what should I do?
    Commented Feb 20, 2013
  • Al Scardino

    What is your opinion on other trainers giving their advice to clients that are working with another trainer.
    Commented Feb 20, 2013
  • Steph Pritchett

    I'm going through the exact same situation. I don't want to ruin our business relationship but I'm creeped out n she doesn't seem to get the hung. What happened with you?
    Commented Feb 07, 2013
  • Hannah Tobin

    I have a client who wants to hang out and have me over to her house all the time. She also texts me all the time, with non-related personal training stuff, and wants to take me out to eat for special occasions. I told her that she doesn't need to do that for me. I try to limit my texts to her now because I did go to her house 2-3 times before to be nice to her and have dinner. But it is weird because no one else is at her house and she is 45 years older than me, not friend age! I am a straight woman, just 25 years old, but it just doesn't seem like a good idea anymore---I was trying to be nice but I believe she thinks I am her long lost granddaughter (or worse). I don't want to be friends, just have a good client to trainer relationship and she seems to think I am suppose to be her best friend. How do I tell her that she needs to stop. Is there a code of ethics that specifies this. I tried to be nice but she is taking it way too far with texts/dinner/always wanting me to come over. Suggestions on how professionally tell her to stop or is there a code of ethics that I can use to tell her she has to stop?
    Commented Apr 10, 2012

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