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Why Fitness Professionals Need to be More Mindful of the Health Advice They Offer Clients


If there’s one subject that every fitness professional needs to be aware of is nutrition. Food and its incredible effect on the body is a constant source of debate within the fitness and health communities. Despite science, everyone has their interpretations, theories, and facts on the matter. It’s like the subject has become the Wild West, people are taking sides, creating factions, and have taken on almost zealot like traits when defending their favorite method of getting fit.


[National Posture Institute] Why Fitness Professionals Need to be More Mindful of the Health Advice They Offer Clients


We’re all entitled to our opinions and certainly we’re going to disagree on matters from time to time, but these opinions can become problematic when clients get into the mix. A week ago a video surfaced online that challenged personal trainers to stop telling their clients to eat chicken and broccoli only if they want to lose weight. This isn’t the first this piece of advice was presented.


Where did this mentality come from and why is it being propagated by fitness pros? What certified, qualified, and well-meaning professional would spread this sort of information to their client base in hopes that it would help them in the long run? As professionals we have to be held to a higher standard and I applaud the creator of the video for stepping up and addressing the issue.


The creator of the video also discussed topics like eating disorders, health concerns, and scope of practice, and I couldn’t agree more. First, every professional is supposed to be taught about safety, the understanding that you care for your clients, but that concept of safety also extends to the information we feed them. They trust us; they believe in what we’re saying and are more likely to follow it because we’re the professionals and they’re the ones seeking assistance.


Next, the advice itself is flat out faulty. While some body builders have employed this approach coming on to their competitions it’s not something they do for the rest of their lives, and if they are doing it they’re missing out on the necessary nutrients required to live a healthy lifestyle. We’ve all gone through the process of reading the nutrition section of whatever program we’re enrolled in so we should know that getting adequate carbohydrates, fats, proteins, and other vitamins and minerals are essential for a healthy lifestyle. Broccoli and chicken alone cannot provide this long term.


It’s about scope of practice here. To echo the message of the video’s creator, who is also an NPI-Certified Posture Specialist, we need to adhere to our scope of practice especially if we’re not qualified or prepared to discuss the subject. We’re not dietitians or nutritional experts; we weren’t prepared to do this and many haven’t taken a course or program outside reading the nutrition section of their certification program.


In case this point hasn’t been driven home, let’s revisit the concept of eating disorders and other health related issues that a client could be undergoing. It’s difficult to ascertain what someone is struggling with, but that’s also why we have our clients fill out an assessment form before we begin working with them. It’s to try to ascertain what’s happening with them and for us to adapt accordingly. Still, we won’t know everything. If someone is struggling with something like diabetes or their weight problem is related to something else, like an eating disorder or thyroid problem, chicken and broccoli can’t cut it. Advice like this could actually become dangerous for them.


Of course, we’re taught some information about nutrition. It’s ok to share the facts; this is a carbohydrate, here’s an example of a protein, or fats are essential for this and that, these serve as reminders and basic educational pieces for the client. When we start dabbling with diet plans and more serious nutritional advice, things can get out of hand quickly. It can also get out of hand when the professional is engrossed in a certain kind of nutritional program and believes their way will work for everyone.


We have to do better, we have to be professional, and we have to consider the impact our “advice” will have on the client. I’m sure professionals out there will still continue to provide nutritional advice despite this article and the video’s warning, but at least take the necessary course work, be mindful, and be honest. People these days are more prone to twisting facts so it meets their agenda and it’s not cool nor is it helpful to the client who doesn’t realize they might be a lamb being led astray.


It’s our responsibility to keep calling this sort of malpractice out and keep holding others accountable. In the spirit of things, I also want to mention the Educational Fitness Solution’s list of online college certificate based courses. I’d like to specifically mention the online college certificate in Sports Nutrition among the others because of how easily transferable the information can be for even the weekend warrior.


Here’s the link >>

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