The fitness industry is highly competitive and each year more and more trainers gain recognised fitness industry qualifications. With only so many clients to go around, this can make it hard to get or keep clients.
To raise their profile and increase their employability, many personal trainers go on to complete further training and specialise in one of the many avenues of the fitness industry. With specialist qualifications, more career opportunities become available and earning potential improves.
There are key five areas a trainer can specialise in once qualified.
Obesity and Diabetes
A large and ever-growing percentage of the population is obese and/or diabetic. Medical treatment can only do so much for sufferers of these conditions and lifestyle changes and exercise are a vital part of both prevention and cure.
Exercise for obese and diabetic clients has to be carefully prescribed and many movements that a healthy person takes for granted may be impossible for this type of exerciser. In addition, both obesity and diabetes are associated with numerous other secondary medical conditions that will also have to be considered in the program design process.
Obesity and diabetes specialists works hand-in-hand with medical professionals such as doctors or registered dieticians and as both conditions are growing global problems, opportunities to work in this field should never be in short supply.
Pre and Postnatal Exercise
Until relatively recently, pregnant women were steered away from exercise and encouraged to take things easy. However, more recently, the medical profession has altered its stance and recognised the value of exercise during and after pregnancy.
As more and more women choose to exercise throughout their pregnancy and return to fitness soon after the birth of their baby, pre and post-exercise is a logical additional qualification. It is, after all, only natural that at least some of a trainer’s female clients should fall pregnant.
A trainer without a pre and postnatal exercise qualification may find themselves in the unfortunate position of having to refer their now-pregnant client to another exercise professional if they do not hold the relevant specialisation.
Some trainers may also like to specialise in and concentrate on pre and postnatal exercise – especially if they have had a baby themselves.
Many chronic diseases may seem to preclude exercise but, in reality, the right kind of exercise can be extremely beneficial. In many cases, exercise can be used to manage symptoms and improve quality of life. However, the exercise prescribed must be specific to the condition and not cause exacerbation of the problem. Exercise referral specialists are trained to work with sufferers of a wide variety of conditions and disease including:
- Asthma and COPD
- Multiple sclerosis
- Parkinson’s disease
- Type 1 and Type 2 Diabetes
- Hypertension (high blood pressure)
- Hypercholesterolemia (high cholesterol)
- Non-specific low back pain
- Arthritis (RA and OA)
Working closely with medical centres, general practitioners, charitable trusts, schools, colleges and universities, an exercise referral specialist can play a major role in chronic disease management and recovery.
With chronic diseases becoming increasingly prevalent, the need for properly-trained exercise professionals has never been higher. Trainers with an exercise referral qualification will be in the very rewarding position of making a real difference to the quality of people’s’ lives.
Exercise for Older Adults
The UK has an ageing population and many older people are now aware of the benefits of regular exercise. Ageing is associated with a number of chronic diseases including arthritis and osteoporosis and can lead to a loss of general fitness, strength, mobility, function and independence. These declines are accelerated and exacerbated by lack of appropriate physical activity.
Modern medicine can prolong life by treating age-related diseases but staying fit and healthy can ensure that those extra years are meaningful and productive.
Trainers who specialise in exercise for older people can have a lasting impact on the health and happiness of their clients and older exercisers are often able to enjoy more independent, rewarding lives as a result.
Lower Back Pain Specialist
Lower back pain is a growing problem with an estimated 1 in 10 people suffering from this all too common problem. According to the Office for National Statistics, back pain resulted in approximately 31 million lost days of work in 2014.
Once qualified, lower back pain specialists can become part of a formal exercise referral scheme or could join a multidisciplinary team working alongside physiotherapists, chiropractors, osteopaths and other medical professionals specialising in back pain prevention and management. Trainers may work 1-to-1 or at specialist back pain clinics.
A basic personal training qualification is really only the tip of the fitness industry qualifications iceberg. Working with fit and healthy clients is undoubtedly rewarding but gaining a specialism and working with more involving clients can multiply those rewards. With the average personal trainer completing three post-qualification courses, all personal trainers should consider adding a specialism to help them develop their career and widen the range of clients with which they can work.