I do not believe that we are jacks of ALL trades, but I also do not believe that we should stubbornly stick to our ‘specialty’. I like to think of myself as a trainer who has trained enough older adults and people with special medical concern, that this has become me ‘specialty’. That does not mean that I cannot or do not want train a younger healthy person (in fact, it’s a welcome break).
However, for me it means that I recommend that a person look for another trainer if the potential client is a child or a teenager. I have also never trained a woman who is pregnant or who is post-partum, and since I have never been pregnant myself, I would refer out.
I also do not consider myself the best trainer for a competitive athlete; but that issue never arises because I would probably not be their first choince anyway.
I do not see your distinction between men’s and women’s fitness that I would consider those to be individual specialties (except as stated in the case of pregnancy).
Definition of Specialize – devote oneself to an area of interest. You can’t devote yourself to both men and women. To devote is to be dedicated.
You may not be a jack of all trades trainer that I speak of. I don’t know.
If you have a niche or specialty I am not saying you can’t train outside of that. You certainly can’t be the best of the best if you are training lots of different types of clients for all different reasons.
Maybe IDEA needs to call it services instead of specialty. I feel like people are checking every box because they are afraid to exclude themselves.
I believe you can best service your clients and yourself if you honor what you are great at and don’t fear sending clients that you could be good at training to someone who would be great at training them. Trainers are a dime a dozen. If you want to set yourself apart and work in this field with passion for a long time, you will burn yourself out training whoever seems like they might be fun to train.
I believe you should strive to become the very best at the specific thing that you do. I find that the majority of trainers (at least in my area) fear niches because they won’t fill their time. That is the exact mindset that will keep your schedule from being the way that you want it.
As far as the man/woman training goes. If your niche is injuries…of course you wouldn’t call men or women a specialty. Unless you really had a paired down niche like women’s knee injuries or something like that. If you specialize in women does it mean you can’t train a man sometimes….NO. Just don’t call them both your “specialty”. You can’t be the best at both. Training men is a completely different then women. Mentally and physically. I am one who believes that women can bulk up though too, so that may be another debate.
If you want your biz to soar – niche. Refer clients out that you are not 100% passionate about. Then you know exactly who your peeps are and major leverage.
If your dog (labrador retriever) needs medical care who would you rather have treat him….. Vet A who sees only labs. Vet B who sees all kinds of dogs or Vet C who Sees large animals but treats a dog here and there.
I agree with Karin. I specialize in working with female athletes on strength and conditioning and injury prevention. I’ve taken special training in this area and am certified as such. However, I started my career as a general personal trainer and to this day still LOVE working with clients of all types and with differing fitness goals. To my mind, to “specialize” is to have a special interest in, to have special training in, and to devote a significant part of your practice to… I analogize this to the medical profession. For example an oncologist may have a large portion of her practice dedicated to a certain cancer type, but at the same time see patients with other types of growths. Or a general surgeon… you get the idea.
I love my work with female athletes, and in general women’s health and fitness, but I have seen plenty of male clients, and helped them achieve a wide-variety of fitness goals (e.g. a Marine pass his fitness test, an older male client continue post-rehab work after back surgery, a teen-aged hockey player etc). While I love my “specialty” work, I also enjoy variety, and that’s one of the reasons I chose this profession.
Rachel, great question? I look at it this way, perhaps most Fitness trainers are what i would call “general practitioners” would you agree? Most Trainers have a rudimentary knowledge of the human body and how it functions (biomechanics) not to mention, priciples of physics(forces). Do you differentiate between conditioning and performance? For me if you are talking about conditioning? You mus have an understanding of the human body and all the biology and psychology applies to everyone. If it is performance? a specialty is crucial, as a goalk keeping coach in soccer, people pay me for my expertice of that particular position and yet i coach an entire team as well as coaches. Hope it helps? but i also feel your frustration.