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The field of personal training has undergone a remarkable transformation in recent years, especially with regards to the online training movement and body transformation training.
The desire to attain a fit and aesthetically pleasing physique, combined with the influence of social media and the increased prevalence of so-called ‘fitness influencers’, has driven many individuals to seek drastic body transformations. Fitness competitors, reality TV shows such as Love Island, and viral online success stories have further fuelled the appeal of body transformation services delivered by online coaches.
One of the main attractions of body transformation training appears to be the promise of rapid and dramatic results. Many transformation coaches boast incredible ‘before and after photos’ showcasing their impressive results in terms of fat loss and muscle gain, otherwise known as ‘body recomposition’. The allure of quick and tangible results clearly appeals to the masses as participation levels continue to grow.
Body transformation training is a specialised training approach that focuses on comprehensive changes in an individuals physique, body composition, and overall fitness levels. Unlike traditional fitness routines that primary concentrate on general health and fitness, body transformation training takes a more intensive and overarching approach, requiring significant dietary, exercise, physical activity, and lifestyle changes to attain these lofty body composition targets. These programs also include intensive exercise programming, mindset development, and make the client accountable for their exercise and dietary behaviours.
Body transformation programmes recognise that each individual needs their own personalised exercise and nutrition program that is tailored to their specific needs and goals. While these programs may incorporate some of a client’s preferences, they tend to focus more on what is ‘needed’ to get results and less of a client’s enjoyment. This does make these programmes less sustainable in the long-term.
Transformation journeys are not achieved overnight. Personal trainers strategically design progressive exercise programs that continually push their clients physically, mentally, and nutritionally. Over the duration of the transformation programme, the volume of training and physical activity typically increases as caloric intake is relatively reduced, creating a calorie deficit to promote fat loss. The loss of lean body mass is mitigated by a high-protein diet, which does have the potential to displace other nutrients if not managed effectively.
Understanding the pivotal role that nutrition plays in body transformation programmes is crucial and personal trainers delivering these services need to provide expert guidance on how their clients can create balanced meal pans that meet their needs. This presents somewhat of a professional dilemma for many PT’s because most fitness industry regulators stipulate that providing detailed meal plans for clients to follow sits outside of the scope of practice for personal trainers.
Body transformation training recognises that mindset is a crucial factor in achieving sustainable change. Successful transformation coaches need to be able to inspire and motivate their clients, helping them develop a positive mindset, overcome obstacles, and stay committed to their goals throughout their transformation journey.
In recent years, the online coaching and body transformation movement has reshaped the personal training landscape and has created somewhat of a shift from the generic ‘one-size-fits-all’ approach to more of a personalised and individually tailored approach.
The rise of body transformation coaching can be attributed to several factors. Firstly, societal trends have placed greater emphasis on physical appearance, leading more people seeking professional guidance on how to attain their ‘perfect body’.
Participation in physique, figure, fitness and bikini competitions has also risen sharply in recent years, with many of these participants training members of the general public on how they can achieve similar results in relatively short timescales.
Social media and celebrity influencers have also had a significant impact on the popularity of transformation training, because they use these platforms to showcase their impressive fitness journeys. Such publicity has fuelled the general interest and desire for transformation training amongst the general population.
Personal trainers specialising in body transformation training are in high demand and there is currently no shortage of them advertising their services on social media.
When body transformation programmes are executed poorly, they frequently include unsustainable and extreme calorie deficit that can lead to nutrition deficiencies, relapse, and an unhealthy relationship with food. Often, there is also an overreliance on supplements and processed foods in order to increase the convenience factor of the gruelling nutritional targets.
Unfortunately, there are some influencers offering transformation services without the necessary qualifications or the experience to do so. This is a major challenge with all online PT’s because there is little regulation in the online space. Many fitness enthusiasts and influencers are now capitalising on the transformation trend by selling body transformation packages, often at outrageous prices and without the necessary credentials or qualifications to do so. These trainers not only lack knowledge, skills, and ethics to provide these services, they’re also not insured, so if things go wrong there is no recourse for clients.
The temptation to purchase online transformation services from unqualified and unregulated coaches can be quite difficult to resist because the of array of carefully selected and often edited, ‘before and after’ photos. These photos are often shared on mass to impress upon the unsuspecting audience that they too can undergo a transformation like this if they just follow the programme. In reality, things are never this simple and these unscrupulous coaches appear to care little about their clients, and only about their subscription services. Many of these photos often present a distorted view of reality and lead to unrealistic expectations as to what can be achieved over the duration of the programme.
It’s worth underlining again the fact that many of the photos published online from these unqualified instructors aren’t even their own clients, and in many cases have been ‘borrowed’ and ‘edited’ from other online social sources. Editing, manipulation and clever lighting tricks are also widely employed to give the illusion of the most impressive results. Furthermore, the timing difference between these before and after photos is often misrepresented (e.g., the results have been achieved over a longer time period), and it’s not uncommon for the ‘after’ photos to be taken in a state of dehydration, maximising the appearance of muscle definition.
Some professionals argue that engaging in body transformation training has the potential to ignite body image concerns, cultivating an unhealthy relationship with physical appearance that may, in turn, lead to disordered eating habits and/or body dysmorphia.
Body transformation training is an arduous undertaking that requires immense dedication, and expertise, especially around the subjects like behaviour change, resistance training, hypertrophy training and nutrition science. It involves guiding clients through intensive personal training programmes, meticulous nutrition plans and comprehensive lifestyle modifications.
Personal trainers specialising in body transformations must possess an in-depth knowledge of exercise science, fitness assessment techniques, nutrition principles and psychological factors that influence human behaviour. They also need to stay abreast of the latest scientific research so that their programmes continue to align with highest standards of professionalism.
While the industry has seen a proliferation of so-called PT’s claiming they are experts in body transformation training, only a select few truly deliver their services professionally and ethically. Organisations line M10 Fitness and Ultimate Performance Fitness, operated by Trainer to the Stars, Nick Mitchell, appear to be leading the way in the transformation space. If you are thinking about becoming a transformation coach, then you should definitely familiarise yourself with what these organisations are doing.
Body transformation training has its origins in pre-contest preparation for bodybuilding, has emerged as a popular and highly sought after personal training service from fitness enthusiasts looking for rapid and dramatic body composition results.
There is tremendous potential for fitness professionals to provide these services for their clients, both in-person and online, although it’s important to ensure that they have the appropriate qualifications, expertise, and insurance to provide these services. A failure to do so could be classed as professional negligence, and if any client were to suffer an adverse response to their advice, could result in legal action being taken.
In reality, transformation training is a specialist personal training service that should really only be offered by trainers that have more advanced personal training knowledge, skills, and expertise in this area.Back to articles