Are Trainers Meeting Clients' Expectations?

One day I sat down with Lenny Parracino from the National Academy of Sports Medicine team over lunch. He asked me to define a personal trainer's job description. After thinking about it, I said, “A personal trainer's job is to create individualized programs for each and every client.”

That started me thinking, and I then began to examine what trainers were doing all over the United States and in other parts of the world. My conclusion was that less than 4 percent of the trainers I observed applied individualized programs for their clients.

Not totally convinced that this was a fair conclusion, our company held a competition for trainers this year. The trainers had to read a case study of a female client and, using the templates that we provided, they had to create a program based on that individual.

Out of 10,000 trainers who were exposed to this competition, we had five complete the template. Three applications for the competition came from within the United States. After that, I didn't need anymore evidence to back up my 4 percent theory!

So now the question has to be asked: “Should we be charging people anywhere from $50 to $100 dollars for a personal training session if we can't even provide them with the individualized program that is expected? Isn't meeting this expectation the responsibility of the club owners as well as the trainers?”

The last 24 months in the fitness industry has seen some amazing changes. Clubs now realize the benefit of having a well-developed personal training system with well-educated, professional trainers. It doesn't seem to be a coincidence that the clubs which generate the greatest revenue in training are the ones that have the most educated trainers.

Even though we now see clubs starting to develop personal training education budgets and bringing in educators to do presentations and workshops for the trainers, there is still a very large section of our industry that doesn't have an interest in the education or quality of their trainers or the service that they provide. They will, on the other hand, accept the increasing profits from personal training within their clubs and encourage their members to become involved in this revenue creator.

Why is it that everything we accept as a model for revenue within our industry is looked at with short-term greed and not long-term vision?

We tend to want to bleed every last ounce out of anything that is new, rather than put back into it to watch it develop and grow, and provide greater yield in the long run. Will we ever learn from our mistakes?

Here is where the moral dilemma arises for club owners: Do you attempt to educate trainers on developing individualized programming skills and push on-going education, or do you ride the wave of personal training interest, milking it for all it's worth, resulting in an overpriced and undervalued service?

How and what we choose to do now will greatly affect whether personal training is seen as a professional service worthy of extra expenditure when joining a health club, or something that is seen as a waste of money.

Isn't it time for all personal trainers to start to deliver the service that we promote and create revenue from, and take the responsibility of ensuring that this service reaches a consistent minimum standard, if nothing else? Your credibility and our industry depend on it.

Richard Boyd is president of Personal Training on the Net. Servicing more than two-thirds of the United States and world's major club chains, his company is reportedly the world's largest educational resource for personal trainers. Boyd can be contacted at richard@personaltraining.com.