Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world – Nelson Mandela
I have always taken this quote by Mr Mandela to heart and definitely used it as a weapon to further my career as a professional trainer. I cannot stress enough the importance of continued education. I want to explain to you why it’s a necessity to up-skill and keep on learning, reading and applying your knowledge, and why we have a responsibility to do so.
Part of my personal strategy from my first year of personal training 20 years ago, was do attend a minimum of two course per year to stay up to date with the science of exercise and the latest trends, because changing trends have a direct impact on the personal training industry and how we approach our clients’ needs and wants. This does not mean that you must jump on to every new fad and change your business each time something new is introduced into the industry. Commercial clubs are breeding grounds for new and sometimes exciting trends but this is understandable and explainable: there is a demand for these clubs to remain relevant in an ever increasing brand battle.
So, firstly it’s important to understand how the fitness industry has changed through the decades and why it’s essential to keep up to date in an ever changing environment.
In the ’70s the fitness industry was focused purely on muscle hypertrophy (growth) and body building. Exercise was predominantly strength training with free weights and some specifically categorised equipment, a small percentage (2-3%) of the total adult market participated.
In the late eighties the industry changed dramatically with the introduction of ‘cardio’ equipment into gyms. Burning calories and managing bodyweight then became important training goals next to gaining muscle mass. More people began to participate (10-12%) which meant the industry grew quickly.
In the last decade we have seen the fitness industry developing from just offering space for physical exercise into an integrated wellness business in which both environment and social interaction play important roles.
This integration has broadened the scope in a positive way and now allows and accommodates individuals of all ages. By doing so it has had a drastic impact and massive influence on the expansion of the fitness industry. As personal trainers, this meant we needed to change and educate ourselves in order to educate clients on how to manage their lifestyle, eating plan and fitness regimen.
We have now learnt that we are in a different era, one where physical exercise has been integrated into a wellness business and one where both environment and social interaction play important roles. Without keeping up to date with ongoing education you will potentially find it difficult to achieve client satisfaction, retention and sustainability. A client’s needs must be met and we have a responsibility to provide a solution.
People’s lifestyles in general have become more demanding and taxing on the body and mind. We therefore increasingly find that our clients now also want to achieve balance, accompanied by an overwhelming desire to achieve their goals and keep up with the rest. We need to step back and assess our current personal training methods by keeping our knowledge and skills current which is best done by constantly updating and achieving certifications.
Also, if you have been in the industry for a number of years, then specialising in a specific area can help to increase your earning potential and makes you a suitable candidate to join any club locally or internationally. However, this specialisation can only be achieved through a combination of experience and continued formal education.
Trainers should also feel accountable for their client’s health and general well-being. I am extremely passionate about the industry and understand that ageing for any person becomes scary and daunting, particularly given the average person’s lack of understanding regarding the natural process. Without knowing what your body is capable of doing, its limitations and how it will respond to exercise or any form of activity or movement leaves an individual feeling vulnerable and in need of professional help. This is where people look to us for solace and professional council and guidance. We owe it to them, the industry and our fellow personal trainers to stay on top of our game.
By Dorian Cabral, founder and owner of Once Active