Becoming a personal trainer?

Answered on July 18, 2011
Created July 18, 2011 at 4:39 AM

I am a success story for Paleo nutrition, recently I have been helping a friend lose weight by teaching them about proper eating habbits and why, and assisting with getting them more active. Its been a few months and they have made great gains. This past weekend my friend said that I should look into doing this on the side as a way to make supplemental income while also helping people.

I know a lot of people that dont have the self discipline to stick to meal plans, go to the gym alone or stick to a plan, I honestly believe I can help these people and I want to.

I know I cant legally just put an ad in the paper or in the lobby of my building etc offering my services to help. So what I want to know is what do I need to have in order to start this up on the side? Do you need nutrition certs or personal trainer certs? I dont plan on putting on a routine like regular trainers as the people I would be helping would be people with obvious weight issues who need more attentive care and nutrition advice, but if im advocating these people eat contrary to the governments recommendation and im taking them out to get active what do I do to ensure myself and my client would be safe?

Any information would be great, im based in Canada so if anyone knows specifics for Canada thats even better.


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1 Answers


on July 18, 2011
at 05:33 AM

I can't say how it is in Canada, but the personal training industry in the US is fairly unregulated. There are quite a few personal training certifications, most of which are fairly easy to obtain and impart only a rudimentary understanding of how to program and coach someone.

One problem you'll have to overcome is the fact that (at least here in the US), ALL of the personal training certifications that I know of place nutrition counselling outside of the scope of practice and it's technically a no no to talk about it beyond saying, go look at the food pyramid (now choosemyplate.gov) and do what it says. If you operate outside of your scope of practice, you can open yourself up to liability. If your client develops some funky problem that their doctor thinks is the fault of your "fad diet", you could be looking at a potentially bad situation.

I have client who has asked her nutritionist about doing paleo. She was told it was worth trying, cautiously. I know doctors for other clients who are outright hostile towards the idea of omitting grains. At that point, I can't rightly force the client to go against the doctor's order in good conscience. All you can do is provide some reading material, and be as supportive as you can while giving a safe and effective workout.

I really wish there were a government or industry standard recognized "Paleo Nutrition" certification. Most of the agencies that handle PT certifications seem to lump paleo in with the other fad diets.

All that being said, if it's something you are really passionate about, and you want to help people, start off by networking and trying to work beside people who are already doing this. Not to take the wind out of your sails, but helping people eat correctly is the single hardest part of being a personal trainer, and the more tricks and tips you can get from people who've been doing it a while, the better equipped you'll be. It's fun to do a killer workout, but it's not fun to give up pizza and nachos. Helping people who are die hard vegetarians is a whole other ball game. Admittedly, Paleo is a hard sell to some people who express weight loss goals. This is doubly so when the government and the medical community aren't on board with it.

Sorry that was so long winded.

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