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It is an exciting time for personal trainers. The average gym member and Saturday morning cyclist is more interested in fitness, nutrition, motivation and mindfulness than ever before.
This intense interest in wellness is prompting a new movement: holistic fitness.
People are actively seeking trainers with programs that incorporate fitness, nutrition, mindset and mindfulness practices.
So does the future of personal training lie in holistic fitness? Let's investigate…
As the name suggests, holistic fitness is a breed of training which addresses the whole person, not just their physical training. The aim is to work towards wellness, achieving physical fitness through a combination of mental and physical avenues.
Holistic fitness trainers incorporate physical fitness, nutrition, mindset coaching, and mindfulness into their programs.
Speaking about this growing trend, Melissa Baker, TAFE NSW Meadowbank sport, fitness and recreation teacher said, ‘I think it's a logical progression of the services a personal trainer offers. We have known for a long time that great results need a whole body approach - and the industry is finally recognising this in a formal way'.
Detox retreats, avocado on spelt bread, yoga in the park: holistic fitness has always been around because people have always sought out ways to be healthier. The reason it has become so popular in the last five years however, is due mostly to the rise of social media.
Instead of being limited to the few who actively researched and sought out holistic fitness, people across the country are exposed to it via their Facebook and Instagram feeds nearly every day.
So now you know what holistic fitness is, let's have a look at why you may want to embrace this wellness trend as part of your PT offering.
There are lots of personal trainers out there. To be successful, you need to set yourself apart from the pack. Holistic fitness is one way to do this.
Holistic fitness trainers address clients' fitness and health goals through several avenues. This multi-pronged strategy means that you multiply the chances that your clients will achieve their health goals.
These avenues include:
After extensive consultation with your client, tailoring fitness programs to their individual needs and likes boosts their chances of success. For example, if they loathe running and you set them running tasks, they are less likely to stick with the program than if you set them a physical activity they actually enjoy doing.
The old adage that abs are made in the kitchen is true. You cannot out-train a bad diet. Including nutrition in your training package can increase the results your clients get.
Working out why your clients want to get healthy, as well as what their lifestyle habits are, and where their obstacles lie, can be invaluable.
Armed with this knowledge, you can work with them to change their habits, remove roadblocks and help them to self-motivate.
Essentially, mindset coaching gives you a way to help your clients for the 23 hours a day when they are not working out.
Mindfulness practices like meditation can help your clients achieve balance in their lives. When people have balance they are more likely to feel good and stick to routines. Balance brings amazing health benefits too (like stress reduction-and everyone wants that!).
Clients love results. Addressing more than one area in a client's life may increase their chances of success. Success equals retention. If someone sees the difference you are making in their life, they will stay with you.
It's always good to be able to offer a bunch of extras that people can add to their existing PT packages, or that they can buy as one-offs.
As a holistic fitness professional, you could add extras like: supermarket tours, corporate wellness seminars, cooking classes and meditation sessions.
Making a serious difference in people's lives is a fantastic feeling and walking with them through the journey to wellness, can provide serious job satisfaction.
Commenting on the possible benefits of holistic fitness for personal trainers Baker said, ‘A good personal trainer has been doing this as part of their business model anyway but there are absolutely benefits. Fitness is just one element of the complex area of health and wellbeing. Life is getting busier and more stressful and we need to address deeper issues to get long term results.'
How much nutrition advice can a fitness professional offer?
Addressing the issue, Chris Alexander, Manager, Standards and Development at Fitness Australia said: ‘Registered exercise professionals are encouraged to provide basic healthy eating information and advice through the application of nationally endorsed nutrition standards and guidelines (in particular, the Australian Dietary Guidelines).
‘The guidelines include information about the types and amounts of food, food groups and dietary patterns that clients should aim for, to promote health and wellbeing, reduce the risk of diet-related health conditions and chronic conditions.
‘Recommendations outside the Australia Dietary Guidelines and Eat for Health program guidelines and specific nutritional advice relating to medical conditions are outside the role of a registered exercise professional,' he added.
What this means for fitness professionals is that if you want to be able to provide specific nutrition advice, or if you want to structure meal plans, then you need to get extra qualifications in nutrition.
You need to cover a number of bases to be a holistic fitness professional.
You will need a Certificate IV in Fitness, so you have the knowledge, skills and qualification to provide fitness instruction. If you want to take clients through specific practices (like yoga or Reformer Pilates) you will need additional training in those particular areas.
You will need nutrition qualifications so that you are legally allowed to provide guidance and meal planning services.
A working knowledge of mindfulness practices, like meditation and deep breathing techniques is strongly recommended.
You should have a good understanding of positive psychology and mindset coaching principals.
So there you have it, holistic fitness in a nutshell. Is it the future of the industry? Maybe.
There is certainly consumer demand in this area at present. There are also lots of benefits to the movement.
However, the long and the short of it is this: to be a holistic fitness trainer you need to add more strings to your bow. This takes time, extra training, money and commitment.
Also, as with most trends, it's impossible to assess how long demand will remain strong for holistic fitness. So, you have to really love this area to work in it.
If this is something that you're not passionate about, then follow a different route. However, if holistic fitness is something that peaks your interest, it can offer an interesting, fulfilling and rewarding career.
Baker offered some final advice for PTs considering moving into holistic fitness saying, ‘Get on board! It will offer nothing but benefits for you and your clients.'
If you're interested in learning more about life as a personal trainer or fitness professional, why not check out TAFE NSW Northern Beaches' open week event on 22 June. Alternatively, check out TAFE NSW fitness courses here.