By Ernesto P. Cruz, Jr.
There has been a lot of debate recently about whether a personal trainer should or should not discuss nutrition with their clients. Liability issues in health clubs, lawsuits brought against personal trainers due to them prescribing nutrition and supplements, and heightened attempts of nutritionists and dietitians to protect their profession has caused personal trainers and their certifying agencies to re-evaluate their stand on nutrition.
As an ISSA certified trainer, we have been strong and unchanging as far as nutrition training and good health are concerned. Certified trainers has a strong obligation to teach our clients not only proper training but also a sound nutrition symbolically going in synergy with their personal goals. Though with the high level of competitiveness in the market on weight loss alternatives, people obviously believe that they have a choice of what a method to use. Some of them might find personal training as the best choice for long term and optimal results. This is because a personal trainer works in all three areas of fat loss: resistance training, aerobic training and nutrition. It’s our sole responsibility as certified trainers to increase our client’s awareness.
Hence recently, conflict has been created between certified and uncertified trainers and most training companies targeting sales suffering the quality of service putting our clients in jeopardy. The only best solution we can make up to overcome this problem is education. But, don’t we as certified and future trainers have an obligation to educate ourselves first before educating others. A chance of jeopardy is increase if one obligates himself to teach without adequate knowledge on which, what and how training should go putting our clients in great danger. Most of us as trainers show exercise variations on how to do a proper bench, squats or curls, but we must also consider that this is just a small portion of what we should do. Nutrition ultimately is much more important to our client’s success than the way he or she should do the exercise. Therefore it’s our obligating to discuss nutrition during most sessions when we deal with our clients rather than thinking on closing targeted quotas set by companies of personal goals. Also we should learn how to limit our advices concerning nutrition and supplementation.
I have indicated below the professional standards I have adapted as an ISSA certified trainer which will not only trainers but also clients to understand what they should understand in dealing with trainers as well.
1. Serve clients with integrity, competence, objectivity, and impartiality, always putting the client’s needs, interest, and request ahead of his/her own. Always strive for client’s satisfaction.
2. Recognize the value of continuing education by upgrading and improving their knowledge and skills on an annual or semi-annual basis. Always keep abreast of relevant changes in all aspects of exercise programming theory and techniques.
3. Not knowingly endanger his/her clients or put his/her clients at risk. Unless if they have allied health care licenses, always stay within the realm of exercise training and lifestyle counseling with clients. Clients with special medical conditions must be referred to proper medical professionals.
4. Never attempt to diagnose an injury or any other medical or health-related conditions.
5. Never prescribe or dispense any kind of medication whatsoever (including over-the-counter medications) to anyone.
6. Never attempt to treat any health condition or injury under any circumstance whatsoever (except as standard first aid or CPR procedure may require).
7. Never recommend exercise to anyone with a known medical problem without first obtaining clearance to do so and /or instructions from the attending qualified medical professional.
8. Ensure the CPR certification and knowledge of first aid procedure is current.
9. Work towards the ultimate goal of helping client become more self-sufficient over time, reducing the numbers of training sessions.
10. Respect client’s confidentiality. All client information and records of client cases may not be released from the client.
11. Charge fees that are reasonable, legitimate and commensurate with services delivered and the responsibility accepted. All additional fees and services must be disclosed to client in advance.
12. Adhere to the highest standards of accuracy. And truth in all dealings with clients, and will not advertise their services in a deceptive manner.
13. Do not get intimately involved with clients. Minimize problems by always maintaining a professional demeanor, not becoming overly friendly with clients, particularly of the opposite sex, and documenting training sessions, evaluations, and training programs.
We cannot over emphasize this point: Be professional and do not get involved with clients!