Fitness trainer: Look beyond the glamour

Fitness trainer: Look beyond the glamour

As a fitness trainer the work you do when training people will have a long-lasting impact on their bodies and lives, which is a serious responsibility. Istock image

Successful careers, for many, are no longer measured primarily by financial parameters. In fact, financial success is a stepping stone to pursue alternative careers that are more meaningful and satisfying.

There are those who having achieved most of their career milestones, find a desire to re-visit the learning process. Of learning something new out of choice and enjoying the process. 

And now, in the new normal, with the growing emphasis on our health and mind-body fitness, teaching fitness is becoming a popular choice for many.

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A strong motivator to become a fitness trainer is the glamour associated with it. Fitness trainers and celebrities commonly take to social media to share and popularise their fitness achievements, leading to a high aspirational quotient. 

Another factor that makes it appealing is the recent mushrooming of fitness related certifications, that make it appear like a fast and easily achievable goal.

There are also many fitness enthusiasts, motivated by their personal progress and gains, who feel encouraged to teach and inspire others. 

To be a fitness trainer

Fitness is defined as being physically fit and healthy. It refers to one’s ability to perform daily living activities in an optimum manner while ensuring least stress and injury to the body. 

Fitness includes many more aspects beyond popular criteria like as how fast you can run or how heavy you can lift. All fitness activities are not equal or universally applicable and being a fitness trainer is not just about teaching generic exercises, movements, breathing techniques, or fad workouts.

Along with functional fitness programs for daily living, the scope of fitness training includes specialised programs for athletes and sportspersons, rehabilitation, special populations (such as seniors, prenatal, postpartum, lifestyle related concerns), recreational fitness activities, and more.

A one-size-fits-all approach cannot be used to teach these fitness programs. Factors such as fitness levels, health concerns, injuries, age groups (children, youth, adults, seniors), etc are important considerations.

Glamour vs reality

Wanting to become a celebrity trainer and be part of the glamour that comes with it, or wanting to help others based on your personal experience, or being a fitness enthusiast wanting to be a trainer yourself are not reasons enough to make it your career.

As a fitness trainer the work you do when training people will have a long-lasting impact on their bodies and lives, which is a serious responsibility.

The right knowledge and experience to understand specific, unique needs of every individual and how to address them effectively are key to ensure effectiveness and success in training given.

For instance, what may have worked for you in your personal journey of fitness or recovery will not be automatically applicable to everyone else and cannot be the basis of you training others. Similarly, being passionate about your workouts may not be enough to take it up as a career — doing a workout under a trainer’s guidance and being on the other side as the trainer are very different roles.

Quality fitness education 

Be it general fitness or specialised areas of fitness and movement, it is essential to learn from quality education programs. What defines the quality of the teacher training being imparted is the 'Master Trainer' one learns from. The material taught in various courses may be similar but the knowledge, experience, and willingness of the Master Trainer to share information should be crucial factors when deciding on a course to enrol for. 

Knowledge and information in the field of fitness is vast and always evolving. Therefore, learning needs to be ongoing and progressive. Courses done for a certain number of hours, weeks or even months do not equip one to be able to work with varied age groups, specific physical and health related concerns, specialised training programs, and more.

To make a real difference in a person’s fitness and health, the approach needs to be systematic, with no short-cuts or half measures. 

Learning the basics and foundation of teaching correct, effective movement along with programming for different needs and goals is the starting point. Gaining experience and a better understanding through working with people leads to the next step. 

Continued education programs help to upgrade one’s skill-set regularly, enabling one to train a wider spectrum of people and also work with specialised needs.

The constantly growing fitness industry has tremendous potential for fitness instructors and trainers. However, chasing the trend of acquiring multiple fitness-certifications to build a varied resume often compromises on quality of learning and understanding. Taking charge of an individual’s fitness is not to be taken lightly.

Expertise backed by passion can be a winning combination. Movement, I believe, can heal and strengthen or harm. The difference comes from how it is taught. 

(The author is the co-founder of a fitness studio)

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