The future of personal training
We look at the trends in Personal Training and make some predictions about clients requirements and how sessions will be conducted in the future.
When people seek the help of a personal trainer, exercise won’t be first on the agenda
Whilst training is a vital component of any health and fitness programme, it is just that - a component. PTs must acknowledge that we are addressing aspects of a client’s lifestyle and as such the first port of call is establishing motivations, clarifying goals and putting an overall plan of action into place to change behaviour around nutrition, sleep and stress, and exercise. It's increasingly clear that the latter will be nowhere near as effective if the first two elements are inadequate, so as they have the biggest impact on your body, initial consultations and possibly even the first few sessions or communications with clients may well not be the place to introduce a structured workout plan.
As tempting as it is as a trainer to get people throwing weights around as soon as possible, we need to consider what's best for the client and their goals, particularly if they have limited exercise experience.
PT by the hour will be obsolete
Personal training will evolve into a complete 24/7 coaching and support service, with online and offline elements combined to provide clients with all the advice, education and resources to reach their goals, not just motivation through 1, 2 or 3 workouts each week with nothing in between.
We're already seeing PT offered in all-inclusive packages, rather than blocks of sessions, which include live training in one-to-one, small group and large group formats, programme design, nutrition guidance, information products, group support and regular communication and engagement with the coach. These packages can be offered at a fixed price based on result or period of time, or on a rolling direct debit depending on the business model.
Programming and advice will be more data-driven than ever
"If you're not assessing, you're guessing" has been an often-quoted mantra within the fitness world for a while. The best trainers and coaches base their programme design on the outcomes of fitness tests and assessments which enable them to make objective decisions about what's appropriate for their clients.
Yet when it comes to nutrition and other lifestyle factors, personal trainers still have to rely largely on self-reported information in the form of diaries and questionnaires. This means that, for example, dietary advice is based on inferences and assumptions about what is likely to work best for the client.
However the explosion of technology has meant that not only is the data we collect more accurate, consistent and easily accessible (for example through the more reliable tracking of food intake on apps rather than manual records), in what may seem now like a controversial development we are starting to see clinical tests - once restricted to the medical field - cross into the commercial fitness environment.
Through blood tests and mouth swabs (not necessarily performed by the trainer themselves), it will soon be commonplace for PTs to have access to details such as the hormonal profile, vitamin and mineral levels and genetic make-up of their clients. This will mean advice and programming regarding exercise, nutrition, sleep and stress management can be made with a much more robust and sound rationale than ever before.
Of course high quality training, education and tighter regulation of personal training will be paramount as this shift occurs, but this is entirely consistent with the industry's drive to enhance its professionalism, and recognition amongst the medical community in particular. Fitness pros are key to the improvement of the nation's health, so anything that boosts their ability to do that more effectively should be welcomed.
Written by Paul Swainson