Feb. 28 2024

There are a number of factors that the true fitness professional must be aware of to protect themselves, their reputation, and more importantly, their clients 

I have always coached my students that personal training is what you do, a fitness professional is what you are. How this is defined will be different in various business models, but the need to have educated professionals is necessary throughout the fitness industry. However, there are those in the industry who do not adhere to these standards and have tainted the profession with unethical practices, litigation and even malpractice.  

Many certifications now require ethics courses as part of their recertification process, but there are a number of other factors that the true fitness professional must be aware of to protect themselves, their reputation, and more importantly, their clients.  

Being certified by an accredited agency. This is often overlooked by the public in the advent of aesthetic competitions, specializations and online influencers. The average client does not know what certifications are needed. Some facilities have been guilty of allowing non-certified trainers to work creating programs, though they are not covered under insurance.  

Expired certifications. It has been an issue that credentials have been allowed to expire, but the trainer is still working. This showcases the lack of professionalism to obtain the required continuing education to keep their accreditation, revealing not only the ethics of the trainer, but the facility that allows it.  

Training beyond scope of practice. It is unethical to train beyond the accredited education. To gain more clients, trainers fall into the trap of misrepresenting their experience to include specialties they are not certified to train in. Rehabilitation, sports competition, nutritional counseling and even medical issues are among the top categories that are consistently advertised as specialties. This type of misrepresentation is not only unethical, but dangerous to the client as the trainer will not have the right education to provide appropriate assistance and is not referring as outlined in the scope of practice. While personal experience may be practical, professional education teaches the scientific basis while providing the peer-tested educational foundation for the specialty.  

This is not to create a negative perception of the industry but address the need for continuing education. This will allow the true professional to separate themselves by adding legitimate value through their efforts to continually educate themselves, increase their fitness mastery and provide their clients with the best possible options based on the latest research to achieve their healthy goals.  

Kurt Weinreich has over 24 years of experience in the fitness industry as a trainer, educator and fitness manager. Kurt is currently managing the Wellness Program for the Jefferson County Sheriff’s Office while developing fitness professionals through consulting, lectures and internship programs to assist with skillsets in coaching, marketing, education, and business.