Personal Trainer Edinburgh: What You Should Expect
The general, public perception is that all personal trainers retain the essential qualifications, knowledge and experience to provide accurate instruction and guidance to attain specific health goals. Also, the perception, and perhaps the expectation, is that all trainers are equally qualified and capable of delivering results.
However, the reality is that the great majority of trainers lack the fundamental skills and professional attributes to accurately and safely instruct clients to their objectives. The underlying reasons contributing to inconsistencies across trainers is related to the certification process and poor standard of evidence-based knowledge.
A certified personal trainer Edinburgh by no means indicates a qualified personal trainer. The two governing bodies in the United Kingdom for certifying personal trainers are The Register of Exercise Professionals (REPs) and YMCAfit. Both organisations endorse a number of providers to administer courses for certification. Among these providers, full certification to become a personal trainer can be obtained in as few as ten weeks or less. Also, courses are offered through self-study via distance learning which enables an applicant to gain certification without demonstrating repeated application of the required skills. The issue with this timescale is apparent. The timescale for certification does not allow sufficient time for delivery and reinforcement of education vital to designing and implementing effective and safe exercise programmes.
Also, certification courses do not require pre-requisites in health or fitness. Most applicants lack any pre-existing, formal education in exercise, health, or nutrition and are still permitted to enrol in courses. An applicant with no prior formal education in health or fitness will not have the essential, foundational knowledge from which to build from and apply to personal training.
Finally, a great number of trainers are unfit to personal train because they fail to continue their education and expand and update their knowledge. Personal trainer certification courses provide only a basic understanding of exercise principles, however, a more in-depth, evidence-based approach to health, fitness and nutrition are required to operate a successful training service.
Attributes of a Successful Personal Trainer Edinburgh
Among people who start an exercise program, research shows there is a 50% dropout rate within the first 6 months . Given this, there are a number of specific attributes and professional skills a personal trainer Edinburgh should possess to ensure the safety, progress and exercise adherence of a client. These attributes include being knowledgeable in the areas specific to health and fitness, maintaining excellent client communication and motivation skills, and having the capacity to empathise with clients and their individual challenges.
Knowledge, in the context of personal training, has little to do with qualifications. A trainer can be fully qualified, yet lack the fundamental knowledge to successfully work with a client. Knowledge refers to the information a personal trainer retains in the areas most applicable to health and fitness, namely: exercise, nutrition and lifestyle. Importantly, knowledge retained by a trainer must be accurate and applied. The quality of information is directly related to the source of information.
Most personal trainers elect to source information from unreliable resources or simply fabricate information to please a client. The danger in this practice is that a client’s safety, health and progress are immediately compromised. Information should be gathered from reputable sources including published research articles, conferences and seminars, and credible evidence-based fitness professionals. Furthermore, a client should rightly challenge and question the information presented by his or her trainer to ensure the accuracy of delivered information.
Applied knowledge refers to translating theoretical information into practice. A knowledgeable personal trainer Edinburgh continually seeks to gain and apply new information to better the progress of his or her client. This may come in the form of instructing proper exercise technique or teaching a client about important principles in exercise or nutrition. Applied knowledge is critical to helping clients further their knowledge of health and fitness and become more independent in their own health practices.
A successful client-trainer relationship relies heavily on continual and effective communication between both parties. Communication is essential from the onset of a working relationship to establish a clear direction for goal attainment as well as client confidence in the trainer and his or her abilities. Also, effective and efficient communication accelerates a client’s progress toward goal attainment because it allows for quick translation of instructions and education.
Personal trainers with effective verbal communication are able to clearly instruct exercises, including how to execute each properly and common errors in technique. Likewise, effective verbal communication is vital for client education, specifically in taking the educational material and making it comprehendible and applicable for a client.
Similarly, effective non-verbal communication is essential for teaching exercises and helping to create a positive and encouraging environment for a client. The body language trainers use greatly influences the professionalism and openness of a client-trainer relationship. Moreover, written communication in the form of emailing and text messaging between trainer and client is highly important for strengthening the working relationship outside of the gym and reinforcing support and encouragement for a client.
Motivation is unquestionably an important element within personal training that is directly linked to self-efficacy and exercise behaviour. Self-efficacy, defined as one’s ability to build strategies and complete tasks to be successful in a particular endeavour, is an important determinant of exercise behaviour . Improving the self-efficacy of clients have been correlated with increased exercise adherence, general fitness, and goal achievement . A successful personal trainer Edinburgh understands the importance of improving a client’s self-efficacy from the onset of the working relationship.
Motivation to improve the self-efficacy of clients can be delivered in various strategies. Two important strategies competent trainers use to improve self-efficacy and exercise success include specific goal setting and behavioural monitoring . Specific goals setting should be outlined over the short and long term to maximise client motivation each week. Importantly, goal setting should be made objective to allow for re-assessment. For example, a goal to “lose weight” would be too general and non-specific. Rather, a goal to lose 2-3kg and reduce from 78kg to 75kg in 4 weeks is more specific and objective.
Behaviour monitoring looks at the intentions, attitudes and perceptions clients maintain about their own behaviour in the context of pursuing health and fitness goals. A competent personal trainer Edinburgh will apply specific strategies to positively shape a client’s exercise behaviour and improve his or her chance of success. Specifically, trainers can enhance exercise behaviour by focusing on the accomplishments a client achieves in any area relevant to goal attainment. For example, a trainer can use improvement in exercise technique or achieved weight loss to motivate and positively shape a client’s exercise behaviour. Another strategy successful trainers employ to motive and improve the self-efficacy and exercise behaviour of clients is to create a supportive and successful environment. This is accomplished by exposing clients to other members that have achieved success in similar health or fitness goals. In doing so, a client then gains a sense of belief that he or she can accomplish their objectives (i.e., ‘‘if they can do it, I can do it too’’).
Empathy refers to sensing another person’s emotions, coupled with the ability to imagine what another individual might be feeling or thinking . In the context of personal training, successful personal trainers will acknowledge the individual and unique challenges of each client and will demonstrate the capacity for empathy through various forms. Competent trainers use active listening to express genuine interest in a client and their personal challenges.
Active listening gives a client a sense of being heard and understood and requires a trainer to be present in every interaction and conversation with a client. Setting aside all other thoughts and actions to be attentive and engaging is a powerful demonstration of empathy that can make a client feel connected and supported throughout the process.
Also, successful trainers will use shared experiences in demonstrating empathy for clients. This involves identifying with the feelings and emotions of a client by making a connection to one’s own. For example, a trainer can share feelings associated with similar challenges expressed by a client. Sharing experiences involve opening up emotionally and sharing vulnerabilities, which functions to strengthen a client-trainer relationship.
Working with a personal trainer Edinburgh to facilitate goal attainment can be highly beneficial. However, more attention should be placed on finding a trainer that possess specific attributes important to delivering successful personal training. A trainer that is highly knowledgeable communicates well, motivates clients and has the capacity for empathy is better able to serve clients in delivering a higher standard of service. Prior to selecting a trainer, it is a prospective client’s responsibility to enquire about the service of a trainer and the attributes important to him or her. This is best achieved in person whereby a client can view evidence of trainers work and learn more about his or her personality and professional approach to training.
 D. Jackson. 2010. How Personal Trainers Can Use Self-Efficacy Theory to Enhance Exercise Behaviour in Beginning Exercisers. Strength and Conditioning Journal. June. Vol. 32, No. 3, pp. 67-71.
 Schnoll, R. and Zimmerman, B. J. 2001. Self-regulation training enhances dietary self-efficacy and dietary fiber consumption. Journal of the American Dietetic Association. September. Vol. 101, No. 9, pp. 1006-1011.
 The Greater Good Science Centre. Available at: http://greatergood.berkeley.edu/topic/empathy/definition. Accessed: December 16, 2016.