Coaching & PE, Fitness & Health
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Which type of Personal Trainer are you?

personal trainer

If you are embarking on career in personal training have you considered the type of personal trainer (PT) that you would like to be? 

By having a clearer sense of the type of trainer that you would like to be, as well as the type of clients that you would like to coach, you are better able to direct your time and efforts and focus on specific skill sets, qualifications, understanding and a stronger business model. 

Knowing your destination as a PT will help you to navigate an easier path towards a successful career.

This post is authored by special guest author FitPro, and is the second in FitPro’s personal training series where they will be exploring personal training as a career path. (See part one on Is personal training the right career for you?)

The four popular types of personal trainer that this article will explore are:

  • Body transformation coach
  • Health and performance coach
  • Sports specific coach
  • Special populations coach

Body Transformation Coach

Being a Body Transformation Coach (BTC) is a hugely popular route for many personal trainers, that offers rewards for both clients and coaches alike. The fundamental goal of a BTC is to help their clients look better. However, as we look deeper and by understanding the drivers behind behaviours, we realise that by achieving aesthetic goals a BTC also helps people with confidence, self-esteem and self-worth, as well as improving fitness and health parameters. A client that has achieved a significant weight loss goal may feel mentally stronger and also be in a better place with regard to classic health markers, such as risk of heart problems and diabetes. 

Great BTCs are the ones that support their clients in sustaining and even progressing their achievements further once they achieve their targets, whether that be in building and sculpting muscle or reducing body fat.

Great Body Transformation Coaches:

  • Have a solid understanding of muscle anatomy, knowing how to isolate and train target groups in a variety of different ways.
  • Should understand metabolism, how it works and therefore how to provide clients with the best information and nutrition plans in order to meet the desired transformation.
  • Know how to support a client in making lifetime changes to lifestyle choices. By helping clients understand and adjust their behaviours they can truly foster long term changes.
  • Be a master of motivation. Body transformation can be a difficult road for clients to travel fraught with potholes that can divert someone away from their plan. A BTC coach should strive to keep clients accountable for their actions and at the same time feeling driven and engage with the process.
  • Must be able to market themselves in a visual way. The main motivations of a potential client are aesthetic and therefore marketing plans should reflect this. 

Useful qualifications for a BTC include:

  • Nutrition courses
  • Behaviour change courses
  • Weight management courses

Health and Performance Coach

Health and performance coaching is a great option for personal trainers that want to work with clients looking to feel stronger and fitter, move more freely, perform better and or be able to enjoy an active lifestyle. Health and Performance Coaches (HPC) help a variety of clients right across the activity spectrum. From those that need help with doing everyday activities without pain or lack of strength and fitness, to those that want to perform at their jobs, sports, hobbies and other meaningful activities to the best of their abilities. HPCs also often work with those that are recovering from injury or ill health. Clients may be at the stage where they have had physical therapy, but still feel that there is a gap between where they are and where they want to be.

A great HPC is able to use sound principles of movement to progress or regress programming and meet the needs of an individual. They are able to challenge clients safely and bring fun to a functional style of training.

Health and Performance Coaches:

  • Have an understanding of human movement. They should be able to observe, identify and address movements and systems that need improving.
  • Should be creative with programming. Coaches are able to progress and regress movements and exercises in different ways to meet the uniqueness of their clients’ needs, as well as their physical and behavioural barriers. More often than not a Health and Performance Coach will find bespoke ways of helping each client overcome their barriers. Great Health and Performance Coaches know their clients and understand movement science well enough to overcome these barriers with confidence.
  • Are able to communicate with clients in an honest and simplistic manner. It’s a Health and Performances Coach’s duty to understand the complexities of the human body, but it is also their role to help their clients understand the complexities in simple terms. By doing so clients gain trust in the programming, the process and their coach.

Useful qualifications for a HPC include:

  • Biomechanics Method
  • Pain Free Movement Specialist
  • ViPR LMT1 and 2

Read more about FitPro’s courses.

Photo by Andres Ayrton from Pexels

Sports Specific Coach

Whether you work with top flight, semi-pro or recreational athletes, a Sports Specific Coach’s (SSC) role is to find the margins that help make the difference between winning and losing. An SSC supports their client in fulfilling their athletic potential, strengthening movement patterns and energy systems that are distinct to the specific sport and athlete. 

They often work in conjunction with other professionals to create a team around the athlete. The best SSCs will be able to work harmoniously with skills coaches, managers, physios and other team members to create the ultimate environment that breeds success.

Sports Specific Coaches:

  • Have a deep understanding of the physical and behavioural needs of a specific sport and athlete. Sports coaches are willing to research the sport, its movement and energy requirements.
  • Have the ability to work as a team. 
  • Plan training blocks that meet the needs of competition and phases of a sporting calendar.
  • Are up to date with the latest research for both training and testing techniques for athletes.
  • Are able to build a relationship with an athlete, by which the athlete will happily and effectively communicate with and trust in their coach and the programme.

Useful qualifications for a SSC include:

  • Strength and conditioning courses
  • Olympic weightlifting courses
  • SAQ courses

Special Populations Coach

Special populations coaching can be broken down in to a list of diverse clients:

  • Pre or post natal – working with women in preparing them for a healthy pregnancy, birth and young parenthood.
  • Disability – providing disabled people with training programmes, advise and care, that encourages engagement with physical activity and supports a fit, healthy and happy lifestyle.
  • Active ageing – Helping elderly people live life to the fullest. With an ever ageing population, more and more elderly people are looking to enjoy active and meaningful years of their lives.
  • Children – some may find it more fun to build stronger kids than fix adults! Find the reward of educating and empowering the next generation towards a healthier more active lifestyle.
  • Exercise referral – Helping clients back from illness or injury. Looking at short and long term development that may support an individual and aid them in returning to doing the things in life that they love.

Each avenue offers unique challenges for a Special Populations Coach however there are a number of key skills and values that are needed to be a fantastic special populations coach.

These include:

  • Planning progressive and smart training programmes that meet an individual at the level of ability.
  • Having patience and great inter-personal skills. Being able to reassure, inspire and build trust with individuals.
  • Having an absolute depth of understanding with regard to their specialist area.
  • Having a support system of other health professionals around them so that the client receives the best care, treatment and solutions available.

Useful qualifications for a SPC include:

  • Level 3 Exercise Referral 
  • FAI
  • ViPR Active Ageing
  • ViPR Kids
  • Pre and post natal

Read more about FitPro’s courses.

Whether you are embarking on a role as a personal trainer or looking to strengthen and take your brand to the next level, by adopting a style of coaching and developing your skills and knowledge in line with the style you have a greater opportunity of working with the people and goals that excite you. This will help you to realise a fruitful and valued career in helping other achieve their dreams.

Read more in the blog series

This blog post is part two of a series of posts where FitPro will be exploring personal training as a career path. If you found this post interesting then make sure that you check out part one – Is personal training the right career for you? If you liked this post you may also be interested in FitPro’s blog.

This blog was authored by FitPro – the largest resource in the UK for fitness professionals offering insurance, education and support.

Header photo by Cliff Booth from Pexels

This entry was posted in: Coaching & PE, Fitness & Health

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Human Kinetics is the world's leading information provider on physical activity and health. This blog is operated by the European division of Human Kinetics, based in Leeds in the United Kingdom. In this blog we aim to bring you our latest products, news on our existing products and articles and information on health, exercise, fitness, PE, nutrition and much, much more.

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