I would love to see increased respect from the medical community in terms of acknowledgment that fitness professionals can be and should be a part of the medical and healthcare model. Many, if not all, personal trainers work on a regular basis with people who deal with some sort of medical issue or condition, whether orthopedic, metabolic or neurologic. While our place may be a lot further down the chain than the physician’s, we are still part of our clients’ care.
I was recently asked whether or not I considered myself a primary-care provider for my clients. That was a very interesting question, as my clients regularly ask me questions that they should be asking their physicians. I understand my role and scope of practice, so I am very careful with the answers I give. However, I can see why they ask these questions. They have regular access to me, and they know that I have an extensive background in anatomy and physiology. They also know I will listen to them and that I am not trying to hurry off to my next patient. I am not a primary-care provider; I am a support-care provider. If the medical community were to rely on personal trainers a bit more, imagine the amount of assistance we could provide to physicians as well as to their patients!
My job is to assist clients with their health goals, as long as doing so is within my scope of practice. I give overall nutritional guidance and cardiovascular, flexibility and weight training suggestions. Plus, because of my background, I provide exercise prescription when it comes to post-rehabilitation, as well as overall guidance for enjoying a healthier lifestyle. As far as I am concerned, I am a part of my clients’ health and therefore consider myself a part of their health care. I would love to see that respect carry over to the medical community. Just because we don’t submit claims to medical insurance doesn’t mean that we don’t play a vital role in the health and well-being of our clients.
Owner, Fit 4 Life DC
The demographic of people requiring help from fitness professionals is drastically changing, and the fitness industry needs to evolve to meet these individuals’ needs. Traditionally, people seek the assistance of a personal trainer to help them reach aesthetic, fitness and/or performance-based goals. However, with so many people experiencing chronic or temporary injuries, personal trainers— and the fitness industry as a whole—need to develop programs and practices to address this sometimes overlooked problem that is fast becoming an epidemic.
Programs such as CrossFit®, boot camps and high-intensity interval training are extremely fun, engaging and “sexy” ways to sell fitness to the general public. However, the small percentage of the population that can successfully perform these activities is ever decreasing, owing to muscle and joint pain. Therefore, while it is still important to provide dynamic, exciting and high-intensity exercise programs such as those mentioned above, the programs should be marketed as the pinnacles of fitness and not as what are expected of most people who first join a gym or begin a fitness program.
Empowering people to succeed in reaching their fitness goals requires meeting clients at their current physical capability level and providing programming that they can engage in safely and confidently. As such, I believe it is imperative that all new personal training clients or group exercise participants undergo an initial musculoskeletal assessment and be educated about the need to implement corrective exercise strategies into their regular workouts. This will ensure that musculoskeletal imbalances and dysfunction are addressed in the early stages of an exercise program. This industrywide change to fitness programming would facilitate greater long-term client success by reducing both potential injury and
the likelihood that people will drop out before reaching their fitness goals.
Justin Price, MA
Creator of The Biomechanics Method®
If I could change one thing in the fitness industry, I would change the global perspective of how the world views the value of what exercise professionals “bring to the table.” I think this can actually be done if my fellow fitness pros can effect real change at the community level.
In the past my approach was very narrow; I had become conditioned to approaching things from a client-group-referral-centric perspective. I came to realize that the impact I wanted was limited, as it did not take into consideration the populations within my community who most needed exercise—and my services. It genuinely forced me to ask myself, “How might I truly be a catalyst for change?”
That’s why I feel passionate about programs like Walk NYC, a free program based primarily at recreation centers throughout New York City’s five boroughs. Participants of all ages take 1-hour walks, led by trained walking instructors, through their communities.
I enjoy using my expertise to help populations that are generally underserved. Within my area, I encourage local residents to get more exercise by creating their own walking groups. I hope other fitness and wellness professionals can reach into their communities and truly help the underserved. I encourage all fitness pros to visit the websites of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the World Health Organization and their own state’s department of health to educate themselves about health priorities—such as diabetes—in their communities. If we, as fitness pros, can reach these populations, then I think more people would greatly value the work we do.
Joanne Duncan-Carnesciali, MS
Clinical Exercise Physiologist and Diabetes Educator