A quality personal trainer has the potential to change lives. Using their knowledge and expertise, personal trainers design training programs that help meet the health and fitness goals of the individuals they work with. Performing fitness assessments and providing motivation and accountability are other important responsibilities of a personal trainer.
In order to design and implement a fitness program, personal trainers must gather as much relevant information about the client as they can. First, personal trainers must screen a potential client to determine if he can be physically trained. Trainers must identify health risk factors such as diabetes or obesity.
Trainers collect information about a potential client’s personal medical history, chronic illnesses, biomechanical problems and current medications. If there are any red flags, it's a trainer's responsibility to get the go-ahead from the client's medical doctor.
Trainers must also collect general information, which includes age, gender, height and weight, all of which plays a role in program design. Information about a client’s occupation can help the trainer determine her daily activity level. Trainers should inquire about a client’s sleeping and dietary habits, water intake and exercise experience.
Performing Fitness Assessments
Personal trainers are responsible for performing a fitness assessment of a client to gauge his current fitness level. Not only does this help the trainer plan a program, it also provides a starting place for the trainer and client to refer to to measure progress.
During a fitness assessment, a trainer performs a battery of tests, including a body composition test to determine a client’s percentage of body fat versus lean muscle. Muscular strength and muscular endurance tests help determine the intensity of the client’s exercise regimen. A step-test helps a trainer evaluate a client’s cardio-respiratory ability, and a sit-and-reach test assesses a client’s flexibility. Other tests may be done to identify muscular imbalances, postural problems and strengths and weaknesses.
Trainers should structure an exercise regimen according to a client's fitness level and specific goals such as weight loss, lean muscle gain, endurance or muscular strength. Based on those factors, trainers determine what kinds of exercises and the number of sets and repetitions a client should perform during an exercise session. Personal trainers demonstrate the appropriate technique for completing exercise movements and evaluate progress. They will also provide relevant coaching and information on nutrition, stretching and recovery.
Program design and implementation are important, but getting clients excited and engaged in improving their health and fitness is of equal importance. Personal trainers serve the vital purpose of motivating their clients to work hard to reach their goals. They also hold clients accountable for missed workouts, poor eating and lifestyle habits and any other actions that impede health and fitness progress.
Making Dietary Recommendations
Personal trainers are responsible for providing the client with general dietary advice. Trainers may provide a client with literature or recommend foods that provide nutrients that help the body recover from exercise or meet the client’s fitness goals. Trainers should explain how a client’s daily activity determines her dietary caloric requirements and provide charts and tables to help a client make informed meal and meal-timing decisions.
Trainers may recommend dietary supplements that can help a client meet her specific fitness goals, such as protein shakes for lean muscle gain or vitamins for exercise recovery. In certain situations, trainers may refer clients to a registered dietitian for further consultation.