18 Jan How to spot a fake Online Personal Trainer
Now is maybe the best time to be involved in the fitness industry. Becasue more and more people are becoming interested in getting fit. Further, technology is giving people access to more Trainers from around the world.
Through online communication systems, Trainers are able to offer personalised one-to-one coaching to clients almost anywhere! As well as this, by following Trainers on social media, potential clients can get an insight into the day-to-day life of the Trainer to pick up free hints and tips.
However, there is a huge downside to this seemingly fantastic breakthrough in the fitness industry:
Do these “Trainers” have any idea what they’re talking about?
First of all, I will say that there are many fantastic Trainers offering online coaching who have a tremendous level of knowledge and experience. Hopefully by the end of this article you will finally be able to identify them!
Qualifications are probably the quickest way you can assess your potential Trainer. There are an awful lot of qualifications available and some are a lot more valuable than others!
What to look for as a minimum in your Trainer is membership to a governing body. In the UK, the leading bodies are the The Register of Exercise Professionals (REPS) and the Chartered Institute for the Management of Sport and Physical Activity (CIMSPA). Both offer membership to Coaches and Trainers at various levels. Membership to these organisations gives you security that the qualifications which your Trainer holds are of a suitable standard. It also shows that they are engaging in continual professional development to keep up with trends in the fitness industry. If you’re looking for a general exercise/gym Trainer, above all they should hold a Level 2 Gym Instructor qualification. Similarly, if you are getting personalised programmes, look for a Level 3 Personal Training qualification.
Generally considered the crème de la crème of the sport and exercise coaching qualifications is a Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist (CSCS) qualification from the National Association of Sports Medicine (NASM). To qualify, you need to already have some kind of sport and exercise science degree. After this, the coach will take the CSCS exam. This is an in-depth assessment of their knowledge of anatomy & physiology, biomechanics, metabolism, nutrition, and various other aspects of sports and exercise coaching.
There are certainly many other qualifications which you can look for in your Coach or Trainer. This could be very formal higher education, such as a BSc, MSc, or PhD in Exercise Science or Strength and Conditioning. But shorter qualifications which give the Trainer proficiency in kettlebell training, exercise for specific populations, circuit training etc. can be extremely valuable.
Obviously qualifications aren’t the be all and end all. Someone could work their way up to a PhD, become a Doctor of Strength and Conditioning, and have all manner of qualifications. While they have never professionally trained anyone. So you want to look for trainers who have a good track record.
Remember to ask the Trainer for case studies or examples of previous success stories so you can get an idea of their background. If they are a good Trainer, they will be very proud of their work and will happily to share this with you. If they are unable to provide this, maybe they don’t have very much experience. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing. The best trainers and coaches in the world all started out with 0 clients. But a good track record is a valuable quality in any professional.
What do they ask you?
If you are looking for a personalised training programme, then the Trainer needs to know about you! If the only thing your Trainer is asking you for is your bank details, then there’s a problem. For your Trainer to plan the journey towards your fitness goals, then they need to know your history. Therefore, you should expect to be asked about your training history, current/previous injuries, exercise preferences, long term goals, short term goals, and your current diet.
Because different Trainers will vary in their approach to exercise, they may ask you different questions. But if they don’t ask anything and just offer you a “personalised” programme, then they might just be giving all their clients the same thing.
As I have already said, there are many fantastic Trainers and Coaches available on the internet. But you need to be careful. Just because someone has killer abs, 24″ arms, and a great looking Instagram page, it doesn’t mean they know anything about how to train you. Hopefully this will give you a good idea of what to look out for when identifying Trainers.
Philip has several years experience as a strength and conditioning coach for competitive athletes, and as an exercise referral specialist focusing on exercise in clinical populations. Over his years as a coach he has trained clients to manage and reduce risk for various conditions and diseases, and to compete in several disciplines at various levels. As a Master (MSc) of Sport and Exercise Science and Medicine, Philip is also passionate about health and exercise research and has presented his work at various events. He is now a Content Executive with Powerhouse Fitness and hopes to share the knowledge he has gained with as many people as possible.