I have one of the most rewarding jobs ever. I have the privilege of taking people of all ages and backgrounds on a quest into health, fitness and good nutrition. It’s not always easy but it fulfills my passion to see people reach their potential, make a difference for others through service, and often change somebody’s life in immeasurable ways.
As the Fitness Professor and director of the National Personal Training Institute (the largest vocational school for personal trainers in the U.S.) in Dallas, Tx, I teach people how to become a fitness professional. A professional is someone who strives to maintain a recognized standard of excellence and service. They possess a set of values including but certainly not limited to punctuality, high work ethic, coachability, eagerness, friendliness, ambitious, and a high regard for the needs of their client. These are a few descriptions of what a fitness professional should possess.
There are, however, a few descriptions of what a fitness professonal should NOT be…such as Not be a fitness buddy; Not be a fitness escort; Not a rep counter; Not a gym concierge; Simply put: A fitness professional has a strongly defined protocol that separates personal fitness experience and prescribes something only pertinent to the body and health of the client.
I have watched all of these people over my 24 years as a strength & conditioning coach and fitness trainer. They all represent something different to the consumer who utilizes their services. They can all be helpful. They can all be encouraging. They can all charge you a lot of money and THAT is where I take issue.
At NPTI we stress an emphasis on the anatomy and physiology of the body rather than simply teaching people how to do squats, push-ups and bicep curls. We teach nutrition principles from a textbook rather than the latest issue of some fitness magazine with no scientific credentials. The industry has taken a black eye over the last few decades because of our lack of scientific applications. Without official licensure and mandatory education, people have been allowed to become trainers by taking a $30 online test.
This is how many people have gotten hurt as they attempted to “start getting into shape” or taking up a new year’s resolution. An over-emphasis on lifting heaver and running and jumping on boxes before a client’s joints were ready for the impact has created more work for orthopedic doctors and physical therapist. As much as they appreciate the business that uneducated and under-qualified trainers send them, it would be preferred for people to spend more time learning how the body works rather than showing their clients how the gym machines work.
Recently, NPTI partnered with the National Academy of Sports Medicine, NASM, to certify our trainers upon completion of our very thorough 500 hour program which includes 300 hours of theory and lecture in addition to 200 hours of actual practical time in the gym learning the art of personal training. This certification has become one of the most respected certifications for personal trainers and is often the preferred certification for many larger gym chains. The reason is quite simply that they have addressed a niche that was largely ignored: the UN-fit person.
Back in the 70’s and 80’s, it was all about aerobics and bodybuilding. Who can forget watching Jamie Lee Curtis and John Travolta in the movie, Perfect? Or watching Lou Ferrigno and Arnold Schwarzenegger in Pumping Iron? Gyms were chock full of very fit people engaged in a country club type of environment.
- More than 2 in 3 adults are considered to be overweight or obese.
- More than 1 in 3 adults are considered to be obese.
- More than 1 in 20 adults are considered to have extreme obesity.
- About one-third of children and adolescents ages 6 to 19 are considered to be overweight or obese.
- More than 1 in 6 children and adolescents ages 6 to 19 are considered to be obese.
The gyms, fitness programs, workout videos of the future are now focusing on a new type of marketing campaign…reducing America’s waistline. Our health and our future as a country depends on it. This is one of the major reasons why the fitness industry has to upgrade it’s requirements for entering the fitness field. It’s not enough just to show people how to do a fancy routine on the gym equipment. Today’s trainer needs to understand how to strengthen the spine and how to address type 2 diabetes. That’s not covered in a 1-week certification…there’s simply not enough time.
It’s not all about physical change, however. That is why I have spent the better part of 2 decades investigating the psychology of motivation and change. It’s also why I teach our students here that change is a process, not an event. In order for people to own lasting change, they have to digest it physically, mentally and emotionally. That’s a topic for another day.
My message to anyone looking to find a fitness professional to help you improve your health and/or appearance is to find a highly qualified trainer. I plan on providing a free pdf in the future to help make better choices in selecting a fitness professional.
If you’re are looking into becoming a personal trainer, I highly suggest investing in an education such as the National Personal Training Institute or additionally pursuing a bachelors degree in some exercise or nutrition-related field. There are many fantastic programs here in Texas if you’re a local.