As personal training continues to change — and it’s changing quickly — we have two choices.
We can remain “regular trainers”, taking clients through workouts, perhaps eventually losing our business and purpose.
Or we can use nutrition coaching, exercise instruction, and change psychology to transform the lives of our clients and build more rewarding lives for ourselves.
For more on becoming the best coach you can be — and staying relevant in the ever-changing fitness profession — read on.
We are not yet doing enough.
Right now, as coaches and trainers, we are not yet doing enough to help our clients achieve their goals and live better. Yes, we’re on the right path, but it’s time to turn our baby steps into long strides.
To change our clients’ lives and get consistent, dramatic, and lasting results, while also giving them the tools to maintain that change and grow, we must alter our approach.
Let’s start defining exactly what it is we do.
We are not personal trainers.
Despite what it says on our business cards, we are not “personal trainers” or “strength coaches” or “nutritionists.” No, you and I transform bodies.
We use things like exercise and nutrition to change lives. And that truth is much more powerful.
Think about the last time a client came to you…
Did they want an exercise program? Chances are, the answer is no. Rarely does someone come in and say, “I’d like to do squats and push-ups.”
Yet most trainers and coaches simply write a program and take their clients through a few workouts per week, even though it’s not what the client asked for.
What 99% of clients want is change. If you listen closely, you’ll see it communicated every time they step through our front doors.
They want to change their body from its current state to their version of the “perfect body”. And they’re asking for your help to do it.
Think about the gravity of this request. Think about the trust they’re putting in you. Think about the pressure it puts on you to deliver that result – it’s enough to make any trainer nervous.
But it shouldn’t.
You CAN deliver the change your client wants.
With the right tools and education, you can deliver that change… for every single person who walks through your door.
That’s the truth. But you can’t do it by focusing on just one aspect of body transformation. You can’t do it by defining yourself as a “personal trainer.”
No, to create dramatic results, you need to help manage your clients’ exercise when they’re with you and their lives when they’re not with you.
Exercise alone isn’t enough.
Let’s not be naive – exercise is a crucial component of body transformation. But what is your client doing a lot of during the other 165 hours of the week? Eating.
That’s why an exercise program is never enough to see real, honest-to-goodness body transformation. And that’s why knowing how to change the way your clients eat is the biggest advantage you can have as a fitness professional.
Trust me, in five years, knowing how to help change your clients’ eating habits will be what separates the “personal trainer” from the person who changes lives.
And, simple as it may sound, if you want to be the latter, you have to stop thinking of yourself as a “personal trainer.” From now on, you are a “life changer.”
After redefining your role and purpose, the next step is to learn how to coach nutrition.
Why aren’t you coaching nutrition now?
Most trainers don’t feel like they’re qualified to help their clients change their eating habits. Here are the reasons most of them give:
1. “I’m not a dietitian.”
(Doesn’t matter – very few dietitians are trained in exercise nutrition anyway.)
2. “It’s illegal to give nutrition advice.”
(No, it’s not. You can’t do medical nutrition therapy, but you can give advice to active people.)
3. “That’s not my scope of practice.”
(Well, why not? It certainly should be. In 5 years, it’ll have to be.)
These responses all limit your ability to adapt and grow as a professional. The body transformation industry is evolving so quickly that, in the near future, there won’t be a place for the current definition of “personal trainer.”
Look how far personal training has come already…
A few months ago, I had dinner with a friend who’s a highly respected physical therapist. I won’t mention his name, but he’s basically “the guy” that introduced physical therapy techniques to the fitness industry.
Because of his determination and his techniques, trainers around the world now assess their clients’ needs with movement screens and keep their clients injury-free with corrective exercises.
But it wasn’t always this way. About 10 years ago, movement screens and corrective exercise were considered “outside the scope” of personal training. Sound familiar?
Back then, people were saying: “I’m not a physical therapist;” “It’s illegal to give physical therapy advice;” and “That’s not my scope of practice.”
However, that’s old news. Now if you’re not using corrective exercise and movement screening in your practice, you’re considered irrelevant, behind the times.
So, what’s the next big thing in personal training? Nutrition coaching.
Now, I’m not saying that personal trainers have to go to school for 10 years to become full-fledged masters of nutritional biochemistry. Quite the contrary: Nutritional biochemists are often ill-equipped to coach nutrition too.
What I am saying is that if you hope to survive in the fitness world through the next five years, you’d better understand nutrition coaching. In fact, the real world application of habit-based nutrition is the “missing piece” in the body transformation puzzle.
And that’s a topic that doesn’t require an RD or a PhD to master.
But I don’t think I know enough to do a good job…
One less-commonly cited reason for not including nutrition in the personal training environment is the most honest one: “I just don’t think I know enough to do a good job.”
I can identify with this because when I started out, that’s exactly how I felt. When I decided to do something about it 15 years ago, there were only two options for learning more about nutrition.
Option 1: higher education
With this option, you devote your entire professional career to learning about nutrition. This means undergrad degrees, grad degrees, and attending countless seminars. Essentially, you devote 10 years of your life to becoming “the nutrition guru.”
Of course, this is the route I chose. And while I wouldn’t change it for the world, I spent over $100,000 in tuition and expenses and 10 years of my life to achieve this. Not everyone is willing and/or able to go this route.
Option 2: the weekend seminar
The second option includes taking a weekend “nutrition certification course” and getting a rubber stamp of approval that, frankly, doesn’t mean anything. Sure, you’ve got the “nutrition” credential. But you don’t really feel you’ve learned much.
Obviously, I think this option is a waste of time. It probably won’t make you a better “life changer.” And you’ll probably even be a little embarrassed showing off your weekend certification credential.
The third option: the Precision Nutrition Certification
Times have changed and the two options above are no longer the only pathways to build up a strong nutritional foundation. Now, there’s a third option: The Precision Nutrition Certification.
For the last 5 years, I’ve been hard at work developing this one-of-a-kind certification program designed for – and meant to be used in – a personal training or strength coaching environment. There’s nothing else like it.
Sure, our students learn all about the science of sport and exercise nutrition. In fact, about 300 pages of the 600 page Precision Nutrition Certification text are made of up of the science part.
More importantly, however, our students also learn the art of nutrition coaching. They learn how to work with real, live people.
People who want to look better and feel better – who want to change their lives – but who also have many rationalizations and excuses preventing them from being able to change on their own.
Free 5-day course: Essentials of Nutrition Coaching
Obviously, I think the Precision Nutrition Certification is a must for any personal trainer who aspires to become a life changer. But don’t take my word for it.
We’ve created an absolutely free 5-day video course for fitness professionals, called “The Essentials of Nutrition Coaching.” It’s designed to show you how to include nutrition coaching in your practice immediately.
In it, we’ll teach you:
- How to integrate nutrition coaching in a training or strength coaching environment
- How to assess a new client
- How to devise a nutrition plan based on that assessment
- What stats to measure and how to measure them
- How to optimize a nutrition plan based on those stats
And we don’t just talk about this stuff — we show you how to do it. In fact, we even give you all the forms and resources you need to go and do it right away.
In addition to the downloadable resources, each lesson includes a video (about 12 minutes long), an MP3 audio version (in case you want to load it in your iPod), and a transcript (in case you’re watching it at work and don’t have the headphones handy).
We’ve tried to make this course better than any nutrition seminar I’ve ever seen, and I think we’ve done that. But that’s for you to decide. One thing’s for sure, though: This free course will make you a better professional.
Over 100,000 fitness professionals have taken the free course already. If you’re one of them, please share it with anyone (and everyone) you think would benefit from it. If you haven’t taken it, click here to get started on the free 5-day course.
The future of personal training has begun…
One of the things I love about the fitness industry is that it’s still young. And with youth comes optimism and a passion for growth.
That’s why I’m excited for the future of fitness.
People become fitness pros because they truly want to make a positive difference in the lives of their clients. I love that feeling too. I love helping my coaching clients.
I also get all warm and fuzzy knowing that I can give fitness professionals the tools they need to help more people while building a fun and profitable business.
So check out The Essentials of Nutrition Coaching free course. I guarantee it’ll help you evolve from “personal trainer” to “life-changer”.
And if you’ve already taken the free 5-day course, the next step is to check out the Precision Nutrition Certification.
If you’re a coach, or you want to be…
You can help people build sustainable nutrition and lifestyle habits that will significantly improve their physical and mental health—while you make a great living doing what you love. We'll show you how.
If you’d like to learn more, consider the PN Level 1 Nutrition Coaching Certification.