Make the right choice when it comes to health and fitness professionals

28 JAN

Make the right choice when it comes to health and fitness professionals

By Dean Phelps on Tuesday, 28th of January    Tag: Fitness, Health, High Performance Health, Professional,

In spate of recent revealations in the exercise industry, here are a few comments on why choosing a qualified health and fitness professional is so important.

There have been a lot of reports in the weeks in mainstream media and social media in regards to some serious side effects to exercise and those prescribing it from the health and fitness industry. We have all heard of the Rhabdo with cross fit, now it seams to have hit Personal Trainer’s. To add more insult to the fitness aspect of the industry there have been nutritionists and dieticians attacking certain dietray advice from a ‘well-modeled’ business.

Don’t get me wrong with this blog, I’m a huge fan of crossfit, Personal Trainers and good healthy eating advice. I think these all share a fantastic commonality in improving and changing to a health lifestyle. I have to agree with the these reports that people should check the qualifications and research their instructor, trainer, coach or even their health 'care' professional prior to undertaking a change in lifestyle.

I do feel that the 'health and fitness industry' should be separated to the "health care industry" and the 'fitness industry'. The reason for this is they are two vastly separate feilds, yet currently there seams to be a cross over (or perception in society) that the two are the same. The health care industry is highly regulated, with the fitness industry poorly regulated. Health professionals working in the industry includes allied health eg physiotherapists who are required by law to obtain a registration with a national body (AHPRA), they must hold and prove they have obtained stringent qualifications, have costly insurance, undertake auditable continuing professional development and have a strong avenue for consumer and public complaint if there is any wrong doing by the practitioner. This is designed to uphold the integrety of the health care professions.

The fitness industry on the other hand is poorly regulated, it does have some form of body to register with, a qualification includes anything with cert in it, maybe some insurance and CPD, however these are not strictly abided by many (not all as there is some that are highly professional and reputable) in this arm of the industry. This brings the fitness industry into disrepute, as we are currently seeing in the media. This is why we need to understand the separet arms of the 'Health' & 'Fitness' Industries.

I saw an athlete comment on a thread about this topic and say ‘people have done bad’, by essentially falling for good marketing tactics and following fads. I agree totally with this and think it is a great representation of what is happening across all of society in exercise and healthy living from the fitness industry.

Having come from a long background of education in exercise science, I see a huge amount of ingenious marketing tactics luring in clients, rather then providing best practice exercise/health prescription.

What you get comes down to good research by you! Here is a few tips on making a good choice, rather then bad one.

Look first at what qualification is held? Is it a uni degree where three plus years has been dedicated to pure immersion in exercise prescription or is it a 6 week online course. I can tell you that a 6 week course in exercise would not even give someone a front desk job in my business let alone allow them to walk around the gym giving advice or prescribing an exercise routine. You cant beat brains when dealing with the complexity of the human body!

Next look at the experience? This is important, as at times a more experienced professional has years of skills and knowledge behind them, however this is not always essential as a new or younger professional may be more up to date, less stuck in there ways and provide a fresh perspective on new things. So be mindful of both the pro's and con's of this.

The above leads into the next point, continuing professional development should be checked. Referring to my last point, a professional with long experience may not be up to date or have the best/most up to date knowledge or skills in the area. You will never know everything in any profession, and the health and fitness industry is just the same! Continuous learning is the key to a better heath and fitness professional.

How flexible is the trainer, coach or health provider in adapting to your needs, fitness level or exposure to exercise? There is no one size fits all program, therapy, exercise, level, diet or routine that will help you. We are all individual and unique, that require a unique and individual session. Walk in and watch the provider/trainer with the client before you or after your, if its looking the same, it most probably is. Look for the professional that doesn’t talk the most, but provides, proves, demonstrates and backs their results.

Finally and most importantly, do they work within their scope of practice?? I can’t stress this enough. A close colleague of mine always says ‘you don’t know, what you don’t know!’. If you have never been educated on a specific area or topic, then you just don’t know it is that simple. If your trainer is giving advice on your injury or diet, ask where did you get that information? How do they know this works? Question their instruction. Don’t assume it’s from a reliable source. A sincere provider will know when to refer on if they are unsure, this is in your best interest!

Now to prove I am not attacking other professions, I would say the same about physiotherapists. There is good, bad and down right ugly practice in my profession. All of the above examples could and should be used in sourcing a physiotherapist to fit you.

So ask questions, do your research and never assume! Look deeply and carefully to chose wisely in health, fitness and life!


Dean Phelps - Head Physiotherapy

Dean is a registered Gold Coast Physiotherapist with undergraduate and postgraduate studies in Human Movement and Exercise Science. His background has developed his vision for Fighting Fit Physiotherapy to focus on optimal health and peak physical performance for every single patient. Utilising his many qualifications, in depth knowledge of the body and passion for exercise he can provide a holistic approach to your treatment and exercise prescription to get the best outcome.


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