PERSONAL TRAINER? STRENGTH COACH? FITNESS COACH? STRENGTH TRAINER?
I can’t even begin to describe how many times I’ve come across posts and articles trying to discuss the differences between a personal trainer and a fitness coach. In most cases it comes down to the “Fitness Coaches” defending their place in the fitness industry and how they separate themselves from what a personal trainer is defined as. Why do they need to separate themselves? Why would they want to? The last post I read basically took a strong stand against personal trainers saying that they can do a pretty good job of designing a training program but a piss poor job of implementing that program and motivating that client. The post was of course written by a “fitness coach” who went on to praise their own passion and compassion and dedication to each and every one of their clients. They boasted about how consistently they’re there for their client, motivating their client, working for their client and going outside the box to help their client hit their goals and surpass them.
Perhaps I should clarify a bit about what the image of a “fitness coach” generally is. A “fitness coach” usually works online or remotely with clients. They will discuss goals, lifestyle, make a plan moving forward to reach those goals and then provide the client with a training program and usually a meal plan to target those goals. They’ll maintain open and regular communication, provide motivation, require weekly or bi-weekly check ins and possibly meet up for scheduled assessments. Hmmmm. Sounds exactly like online personal training? I do exactly that. But I wouldn’t necessarily call myself a “fitness coach”.
Ok ok ok. So let’s just put it out there, I’m a personal trainer. I’m a strength coach. I’m a strength trainer. I’m a strength and conditioning specialist. I’m not a “fitness coach” or at least I don’t think I am. I continue to wrap that word up in parenthesis because, truthfully, I don’t know what that term is! I don’t understand where it came from! I believe if you ask self-titled “fitness coaches” they’ll explain to you that they started the profession and coined the noun to fill a gap that they thought existed between personal trainers and clients. They wanted to better connect with the client and better support the client’s needs. All wonderful objectives but here’s the issue.... that gap that they saw between trainers and clients was merely the gap between BAD trainers and their clients. Believe it or not, there are many of those out there. Just like there are bad mechanics and there are good mechanics! Bad hockey coaches and great hockey coaches! I’m getting tired of reading posts trashing personal trainers in general to build themselves up. Stop comparing yourself to all the BAD personal trainers out there and then using that to put yourself on a pedestal to stand above them. That’s a very very small step to stand on. You’re standing on the edge of a curb over top of the muddy puddles below. To be in this profession, climb higher, get better certified, gain more experience, and by all means, be a personal trainer!! Call yourself a personal trainer or a strength coach or a strength trainer or actually, call yourself a fitness coach for all I care. I have nothing against that. I 100% support people helping other people better their lives. Just please, do it properly, get certified, get the education and grow the experience. Until then, stop degrading and belittling the other amazing trainers in your profession by comparing yourself to the worst of the worst.
The fitness profession has a hierarchy that is defined by education, certification, and experience. I’m not at the top but I strive to be among those who are.
My education with a degree in Exercise and Sport Science and a Masters Degree in Sport Biomechanics provides me with the knowledge to do what I do and the understanding to know why I do it. It also gives me the critical analytical skills to sort out good information from bad information and to filter out the fads and the myths from the facts and the truth.
My certification as a Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist with the NSCA gives me the backing, the practical information, and the opportunity to continually grow as a professional to ensure I can offer the best services possible safely and effectively.
And then my experience over the last 15 years working with not only University sports, youth athletes, Olympic athletes, world champions, Olympic gold medalists, but also weight loss, lifestyle, models, physique competitors, and also having worked with organizations like the Canadian Sport Centre, Canadian Olympic Committee (with what will be 7 Olympic Games following the upcoming 2018 Winter Olympics), Volleyball Canada, Soccer Canada etc provides me with my own dynamic development as I grow as a trainer, hone my skills, and experience what works and what doesn’t.
I passionately give my all with each and every one of my clients. Whether you come to train with me in person or you train with me online, I don’t believe I’m taking it too easy on you, not giving you enough attention, or not there for you when you need me to help hit your fitness goals. If I’m not doing everything I can for you and I’m leaving you feeling unmotivated then I’ve severely failed you and probably need to go find a desk job because I’m not going to cut it in this profession.
I strive to be near the top of the fitness industry among all the other amazing personal trainers, strength trainers, and strength coaches that are out there. We are the professionals that “fitness coaches” need to start comparing themselves to. We are the good trainers. We are what personal training is and what clients need to look for when seeking help. Like anything, there are some “fitness coaches” out there who have certifications and may even have degrees in exercise science and they’re even building their experience (they have more than just experience standing on stage in a competition) and I admire this as a great start in the profession. But then accept that at that point in the profession, you’re exactly like a personal trainer and not something else that’s more special. Be a personal trainer and become a GREAT personal trainer. Regardless of your title, strength coach, strength trainer, personal trainer, or fitness coach, we all have a responsibility to grow the profession and respect education, certification, experience and professionalism.
To all of the rest of you with no certification or education. Just stop what you’re doing, take a step back, and find out how to do it properly before you hurt someone.