2019 Seeing Education Through A New Lens

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Lindsay Vastola




here are countless avenues that lead to a career in the fitness industry. One could argue that this accessibility, in turn makes fitness more accessible to the growing number of people who need it most. A second could then argue that this very accessibility into the industry is what undermines the value of a qualified fitness professional. And then the third could argue the definition of a “qualified fitness professional.” For a moment, though, I’d like to encourage us to set aside the debates and all-valuable points of view and see what matters through the lens of the fitness consumer… after all, they are the ones we are serving. Consumers continue to have more choice than ever -- big box clubs and lifestyle centers, boutique studios and quickly-growing franchises, recreation programs and senior centers, just to top the list. And we can’t dismiss the influence and appeal of virtual programs, online trainers, wearables and live streaming options. With all these options then, how does a consumer choose? Two primary factors influence their buying decision: convenience and credibility. Convenience covers the more practical factors of accessibility, options, ease-of-use, the financial investment, and so on. In short, convenience is how successfully your business model can help them solve their specific problem. Credibility is a bit more subjective. A number of factors can sway credibility in your favor – years in business, involvement in the community, awards and recognition,



affiliations, published works, public speaking, web presence, client testimonials, positive online reviews, and trusted references. In short, credibility is how successfully your experience can help them solve their specific problem. If you’re a fitness professional who values education, you might be seething in frustration right now, asking yourself, “Convenience and credibility are great, but why doesn’t education and knowledge matter more to the consumer?” The reality is that today’s average fitness consumer isn’t aware of the benefits of working with a fitness professional who is committed to continual learning, let alone have any understanding of what education and knowledge actually mean in our line of work. The only way they will become aware is if you make it matter

to them. You must help them understand how your knowledge can help them solve their specific problem. In this special issue, our goal is to share the value of continuing education through the lens of the people you serve. Successfully communicating why your knowledge matters and how your knowledge helps you help them, is when you will fully realize the value of your education… and the reason your clients will understand that it matters even more than convenience and credibility. Cheers to your continued success,


Seeing education through a new lens




3 ways to leverage your knowledge

Nutrition coaching defined






Credibility & convenience

Lindsay Vastola



Andrea Leonard







COMMUNICATE, SHOW AND SHARE 3 ways to leverage your knowledge Angie Pattengale | www.nfpt.com


here are many approaches and strategies to successful marketing, programming, and retention. While all these factors are an important part of success, it is imperative to keep in mind that when a client makes a decision to invest in a fitness professional, they should feel confident that the person they are hiring is experienced and knowledgeable. Leveraging your knowledge and experience will not only help you attract more clients but will help you keep them longer. Here are three ways to leverage your knowledge as an important part of your success as well as that of your clients. 1. Communicate your knowledge

On the onset of a new trainer-client relationship, even if they don’t ask, share your relevant knowledge and experience and how it will help them accomplish their goals. Then,



on an ongoing basis, keep their confidence by sharing with them your continuing education. Whether it is represented in the form of a certification/title/credential or through your professional development as a trainer, it is to your benefit to share this with your clients. When your clients know that you’re serious about what you do, they tend to stick around. They feel invested and accountable to someone who knows more than they do, and who gives them more than what they can do on their own. In your first interaction with a new client, make sure to have a conversation-opener that is about yourself and why/how you got started in fitness. Take them on your fitness journey and let them know why this is important to you. Give them an idea of what is required to become a certified fitness professional and requirements for continuing education; this will help garner respect and confidence in investing in you. Just

remember, there is a point before you lose the attention of your ‘audience’ or before it sounds like you’re on a soap box making the conversation all about you. Keep it short, 3-5 minutes and relevant to the individual. Practice your introduction in the mirror if you have to. Don’t discount the value in being prepared, even in something you think should come naturally. Keep your self-introduction focused on why you are going to be a great trainer for them; not why you are so great. 2. Show your knowledge

You probably have multiple social media profiles and perhaps a website. If not, consider a simple plug-and-play site that gives you a place to direct current and potential clients to learn more about you. Your timeline, stories, feeds and shares on Facebook, Instagram, and other platforms are doing this for you in a way that is necessary; but, for as little as $5-

$10 a month, you can use a simple drag and drop template to create a website that serves as an upgrade to your media platform. A simple yet sleek website can be a professional addition to your marketing that leverages your knowledge and your passion for fitness. 3. Share your knowledge

Whenever you take the time to further your education, tell the world about it! Share what you’re doing as you are doing it. When you take a class, course, webinar or seminar – post and share it across your social platforms (and, if you have one, update your ‘Latest Learning’ section on your website). Share a take-away you learned or enjoyed and how it will help you help your clients. Leverage your knowledge to keep your clients from looking elsewhere

When investing in any service, you want

to feel like you’re getting what you pay for. When you get what you pay for, you are less likely to look elsewhere. Fitness is no different; your goal is to keep your clients from looking somewhere else. Even if you are new to your fitness career, you still have your foundational education to share. While getting your initial credentials was your first step to becoming a fitness professional, it’s not the title or certificate that keeps your clients coming back for more. Prioritizing your continuing education and leveraging it by communicating it, showing it and sharing it, will show your clients that you care about being the best at your craft; that it’s your livelihood and you want to know as much about it as possible so that you can continually serve them better. Leveraging your knowledge with a client-centered approach that is purposeful and professional ultimately helps to

leverage what you are really offering your clients – you.

Angie Pattengale has been with National Federation of Professional Trainers, NFPT, since 1994, currently serving as the Director of Certification. She is a graduate of Purdue University’s Krannert School of Management, currently directing the growth initiatives and quality assurances of the NFPT personal trainer certification program. She leads efforts that assure the skill set competency of NFPT-CPTs through legally defensible, job-specific, knowledge-based assessments which serve to promote the credentialing value of the NFPT-CPT credential. Angie works to support and advance the NFPT Certification mission as it relates to health, public safety and industry authority. 2019 CONTINUING EDUCATION SUPPLEMENT | 9

CREATE AN EFFECTIVE CEU STRATEGY Not all CEUs are created equal Andrea Leonard | www.thecancerspecialist.com


ears ago, a seasoned trainer once told me he made $110/ hour, compared to my $45. In shock, I asked him how he justified his rates. His answer was unforgettable, “I tell my clients that they would not expect to walk into a Volkswagen dealership and drive out in a Porsche.” In other words, you get what you pay for. If you want to demand a



higher hourly rate, you better have something to show for it. This is just one reason why becoming a specialist by specializing your continuing education and experience creates the potential for you to reap many rewards. Determine what sets you apart

The Bureau of Labor and Statistics estimates the number of personal trainers will hit

338,000 in the United States this year based on population growth and increasing interest in health and fitness1. Employment of fitness trainers and instructors is projected to grow 10 percent between 2016 and 2026, faster than the average for all occupations1. The median annual wage for fitness trainers and instructors was $39,820 in May 20181. Based on this information alone, fitness professionals should be asking themselves, “What sets me apart from every other fitness professional?” Grab a pen and paper and write it down. Is your paper blank? Maybe one or two semi-meaningful differentiations? Your continuing education strategy should align with your differentiating factors to continue to make you stand-out. Create your continuing education strategy

Every fitness certification requires that you acquire a certain number of continuing education hours, typically every two years, to maintain your certification. Continuing education is designed to make sure that you are

education on becoming a medical fitness specialist. Case study: medical fitness specialist

Would you want your primary care doctor to perform your brain surgery? Medical professionals specialize to earn the distinction of neurosurgeon, orthopedic specialist, OBGYN, etc. and with that comes a bigger paycheck. The same thing can apply to you as a trainer. Look to organizations such as the MedFit Network, Functional Aging Institute, and the Medical Fitness Association that are playing a role in moving the in the direction of medical fitness specialties to cater to the Baby Boomers and Gen-Xers. In 2019, at 72 million, the population of Baby Boomers will begin to plateau, while the Generation X population (ages 36 to 51 in 2016) is projected to surpass Boomers by 20282. These populations have two obvious

current with guidelines and best practices, but there is a wide-range of available options and it’s important that your continuing education strategy is relevant to you and your clients as not all CEUs are created equal. Do you find yourself scrambling for continuing education units (CEUs) a few months before you are due to renew? Are you always searching for the least expensive way - in both time and money - to accomplish your goal in time? Are you shying away from a relevant course or certification because of the price tag? While this is certainly a means to an end, you are potentially short-changing yourself professionally. Instead of simply looking for CEUs to meet your requirements, what if you took the opportunity to add another certification or advanced qualification to your resume? It’s imperative to create a continuing education strategy that increases your value for both your career and your clients. Here is a case study demonstrating how a fitness professional can move from generalist to a specialist by focusing their continuing

similarities, disposable income and an aging body. If you’re looking to build a thriving and sustainable business as a fitness professional, you will want to strongly consider on focusing on a target clientele that: 1. Is growing in numbers 2. Can afford to pay you what you deserve 3. Sees the value in the service you provide 4. Needs your expertise to remain healthy or recover from illness/injury 5. Reaps the benefit of your expertise and shares the results with their medical providers 3 tips to create an effective CEU strategy

Circling-back to your list of what separates you from the other 337,999 trainers out there, does anything that you have written down help you to attract the clientele mentioned? Remember that you are not just competing with others with a personal training certification. Many have master’s degrees, PhDs, and an incredibly diverse resume of certifications. It’s not too late for you to join the ranks of the elite fitness professionals, but you are going to need to commit to expanding your training with advanced certifications and specialty courses. 1. When you go to a fitness conference and you have 50+ sessions to choose from, what are you drawn to? Do you tend to participate in the “fun” sessions? What if you dedicated this year’s convention to advancing your expertise in areas like osteoporosis, diabetes, arthritis, cancer, seniors, etc.? Learn how you can use the tools that you already have (kettlebells,

TRX, Zumba, aquatics, Pilates, yoga, etc.) to work with clients in a safer and more effective manner. 2. Have you ever seen a continuing education course that was really intriguing to you, but didn’t offer CEUs for your renewing organization? Even though you knew the course could make you a better trainer and specialist, and possibly get more clients by establishing a niche market, you chose to take a different CEU course simply to fulfill the “requirements.” In almost every situation, you can petition that organization for less than $25! 3. Lastly, consider your ROI (return on investment). Are you walking away with a piece of paper that says how many CEUs you’ve earned, or a new title and career path? Does the organization with whom you are considering purchasing a course from offer ongoing education, online and phone support, a directory where your name will be listed upon course completion, support through online or social media groups, or training on using your knew expertise to build your business? By becoming a specialist, you will stand head and shoulders above your competition! The knowledge you gain through a specialty certification/advanced qualification will allow you to become the expert on topics of interest that pertain to the given population and play a major part in more success and longevity as a fitness professional. 1. Bureau of Labor and Statistics, Occupational Outlook Handbook, https://www.bls.gov/ooh/personal-care-and-service/fitness-trainers-and-instructors.htm 2. Linda Searing – The Washington Post, The Big Number: Millennials to overtake boomers in 2019 as largest U.S. population group, https://tinyurl.com/millenialsVSboomers, January 27, 2019

Andrea Leonard is a 35-year cancer survivor and PFP 2019 Personal Trainer of the Year. She graduated from the University of Maryland and went on to get certified as a CES & PES, NASM, and ACE-CPT. She has also been certified as a CPT by ACSM and as a Special Populations Expert by The Cooper Institute. In 2004 Andrea founded the Cancer Exercise Training Institute to enable health and fitness professionals to work safely and confidently with cancer patients. 2019 CONTINUING EDUCATION SUPPLEMENT | 11

KNOW YOUR SCOPE Nutrition coaching defined By Brian Sutton | www.nasm.org


rofessionals who work in the health, fitness and wellness professions are fortunate to positively affect many lives. There are a variety of behaviors that contribute to a sound mind and body, but for many, nutrition and healthy eating is the most impactful. Unfortunately, due to so much misinformation in the media and on the internet, nutrition and healthy eating strategies are arguably the most confusing and misunderstood. This is where the power of nutrition coaching can come into play. This article discusses the role of nutrition coaches and the importance of obtaining



a nutrition coaching certification before working with clients. Before we begin, it is important to briefly review the differences between a nutrition coach and a registered dietician nutritionist (RDN). NUTRITION COACHES AND REGISTERED DIETICIAN NUTRITIONISTS RDNs and nutrition coaches have complementary roles; like that of a nurse and a medical doctor, or a physical therapist and an orthopedic surgeon. There are clearly defined boundaries between the services of a nutrition coach and an RDN. An RDN has earned, at a minimum, a

bachelor’s degree from an accredited university in the field of nutrition, fulfilled hundreds of hours of supervised dietetic services in a variety of settings, and passed a national exam. Many states also require licensure above and beyond the RDN credential. Once an individual earns the RDN credential, they are required to earn additional approved credits to maintain it. Beyond the designation, RDNs can also pursue further education and specialize in dietetics related to pediatrics, diabetes, or sports nutrition; each with specific requirements and exams. In short, RDNs are allied healthcare professionals working in the field of dietetics that offer services to patients who require, or seek out, nutrition intervention and therapy. Nutrition coaches provide nutrition education and coaching services for apparently

healthy adults to reach their overall health, wellness, and fitness goals. Nutrition coaches are not licensed healthcare professionals, but they are extremely valuable mentors for their clients. It is important to note that it is beyond the scope of practice for nutrition coaches to prescribe individualized meal plans, diagnose or treat eating disorders, or provide nutritional “therapy” for acute or chronic disease. Instead, nutrition coaches work with the general population to improve overall quality of life and facilitate the inclusion of healthy eating behaviors. They are educators that empower their clients to take responsibility for their own health. 5 REASONS TO EARN A NUTRITION COACHING CERTIFICATION Nutrition coaches offer many services to help their clients achieve lasting change. But to do so effectively requires a robust skill set in both nutrition guidance and behavior change strategies. To gain these skills, all individuals should earn a nutrition coaching certification from a reputable organization prior to working with clients. The curriculum should be rigorous and follow evidence-based practice. Evidence-based practice is a threepronged approach to working with clients, which consists of making decisions based on the weight of the scientific evidence, field observations, and individual client needs and preferences. In other words, nutrition coaches must be able to “walk the walk.” Nutrition coaches are not merely internet celebrities, fitness models, or so-called gurus that fall into a specific nutrition camp or fad. Watching YouTube videos, listening to podcasts, or reading the latest celebrity diet book or blog does not qualify as adequate education to become a nutrition coach. Instead, a competent nutrition coach has completed rigorous coursework and earned a nationally

recognized certification that teaches the following skills: 1. Nutrition coaches must be competent in many aspects of nutrition, such as the role of diet on health and body composition. This includes a foundational level of knowledge regarding macronutrients (fat, protein, carbohydrates), micronutrients (vitamins and minerals), energy balance and metabolism, digestion and absorption, nutrient timing, supplementation, and hydration strategies (to name a few). 2. Nutrition coaches must be able to effectively translate and communicate nutrition facts and research to their clients in relatable, easy-to-understand terms. This includes (but not limited to) discussing the pros, cons, and latest research findings of various diets (ketogenic, paleolithic, intermittent fasting, low-fat, low-carb, high-protein, Mediterranean, DASH, etc.); the health dangers of excessive added sugar; alcohol; saturated and trans-fat; the health benefits of fiber and whole unprocessed foods; and demystifying common food myths and fallacies. 3. Nutrition coaches are guides and leaders that provide teachable moments for their clients. Some examples include teaching clients how to read food labels and navigate grocery stores, using healthy cooking methods (grill, broil, bake, poach versus frying), and strategies for choosing healthy food options at restaurants or holiday parties. 4. Nutrition coaches provide guidance regarding appropriate calorie consumption for safe weight loss, demonstrate healthy portion sizes, and provide eating strategies for consuming adequate amounts of lean protein, vegetables, fruits, legumes, and dairy to promote health. Nutrition coaches do not fall into a “nutrition camp” or provide a “onesize-fits-all” approach to eating. Instead, they realize there are many ways to consume a

healthy diet and consider their client’s food preferences, religion, family and work obligations, and cultural differences when providing nutritional guidance. 5. Nutrition coaches are mentors that implement action plans for their clients. They are skilled in dietary assessment and body composition testing, motivational interviewing techniques, active listening, rapport building, and creating both long-term and short-term goals. Nutrition coaches work with the general population to facilitate the inclusion of healthy eating behaviors and empower their clients to take responsibility for their own health. They are mentors and leaders that guide their clients towards a healthier lifestyle. To be a successful nutrition coach, individuals must possess adequate knowledge of nutritional science and behavior change strategies. It is recommended that all individuals seek out and obtain a nationally recognized nutrition coaching certification that uses evidence-based practice to teach nutrition and behavior change.

Brian Sutton MS, MA, NASM-CPT, PES, CES, CNC, CSCS, is a Content and Production Manager for the National Academy of Sports Medicine (NASM). He is a 20-year veteran in the health and fitness industry and has contributed to several of NASM’s publications. He earned an MA in Sport and Fitness Management from the University of San Francisco, an MS in Exercise Science from California University of Pennsylvania, and several certifications from NASM and NSCA. He served as an adjunct faculty member for California University Pennsylvania (2010–2018) teaching graduate-level courses in Corrective Exercise, Performance Enhancement, and Health and Fitness.

Nutrition coaches are not licensed healthcare professionals, but they are extremely valuable mentors for their clients. 2019 CONTINUING EDUCATION SUPPLEMENT | 13

Joe Cannon




growing number of organizations are offering online certifications for those who want to become personal trainers. This is different than a live event, where students attend a class and interact with an instructor who helps them understand the material. While online certs may offer convenience, here are some advantages of attending a live fitness certification. Interact with experts. Live certification events are conducted by instructors who usually hold advanced degrees in their field and have been in the fitness industry for many years. This allows students the opportunity to learn about a broader range of topics than simply reading a textbook and taking an exam. For those just beginning their fitness career, this is invaluable because it helps new trainers save time and frustration learning the ropes and avoiding mistakes. Less expensive. Ironically, fitness certifications conducted online may cost significantly cost more than live-class equivalents. It’s more real life. Live certifications are based on the traditional university-model of learning where students study and then attend a class to enhance their knowledge. This allows for a more granular level of understanding. Practical experience. Live events typically have a practical component where instructors demonstrate exercises and break students up into pairs, so they have hands-on experience. The practical component can help simulate real-world trainer-client interaction. It’s not currently possible for a computer exam to accurately evaluate someone’s real-life proficiency at performing an activity or how to properly spot clients performing an exercise.



Exams are more challenging. The exams which accompany live certifications typically contain both open-ended and closed-ended questions as well as essays. This provides a more robust testing experience and allow students to express their knowledge more than most computer-based testing allows. Feedback. The classroom experience allows students to receive immediate feedback from authorities in their field. Networking. The classroom learning experience is an opportunity to network with others who they might never meet. Some of these people will have backgrounds that offer insight into a complementary knowledgebase. Nobody knows everything; it’s through our interactions with others that we learn more and are able to help more people. Fitness trainers are critical members of the healthcare

system. No other healthcare professional obtains their primary credential via passing an online exam. As medical professionals interact fitness trainers, it’s likely they will scrutinize the education of those they refer their patients. You train in person. Shouldn’t you learn in person? Don’t take the person out of personal training.

Joe Cannon, MS holds degrees in exercise science as well as chemistry and biology. He’s on the faculty of AAAI/ISMA and has conducted over 800 live certification events. He’s been interviewed by the New York Times, a variety of TV networks and has lectured to the NASA community. He’s an authority on exercise-induced rhabdomyolysis, dietary supplements and special populations.





btaining your degree or certification is the first step of your professional health and fitness career. Your next step should be focused on finding an area of expertise that has the potential to expand your career and likely, even your bank account. Once you determine a specialization that you can be best known for, this will amplify the power of your personal brand. Here are a few reasons why the success of your personal brand depends on specialized continuing education and certifications. MAKES YOU MORE MARKETABLE Your personal brand simply defines how you will be found and how you are known to your potential client base. Individuals and organizations are looking for the expert who can help them with their specific need(s). You are more likely to secure that job or increase your business because you have established your brand and have gone the extra mile to expand your knowledge base in a specific area of specialization. PROVIDES MORE EFFECTIVE REFERRAL SYSTEMS AND COLLABORATION Establishing your brand as the go-to expert in a specific area will be the catalyst for building relationships with other professionals in your area. Creating a referral

system with other allied health professionals like chiropractors, physical therapists, and OBGYNs requires tremendous trust. They want to ensure that they are referring to a trusted health/fitness professional with expertise and expanded knowledge. This is a great referral stream that will be beneficial in growing your health and fitness business. In addition, once that symbiotic relationship has matured, you and your allied health professionals can work together on projects that can leverage each of your efforts to grow each other’s business.

turn what may feel like a side-hustle business into a legitimate fulltime career that provides steady income.

Sample list of specializations:  Strength & conditioning/sport-specific/ performance

 Behavior, nutrition, weight management  Mind-body fitness  Functional fitness  Active aging  Youth  Post-rehab  Clinical disease prevention, management and recovery

MAINTAINS YOUR RELEVANCY The industry is constantly evolving so it is imperative that you stay current and relevant. Your clients use you as a litmus test, and they trust you to confirm or explain what they read. Because you have the latest education and research information in your specialty, you will likely earn loyalty from your clients. INCREASES YOUR VALUE By specializing, you open the door for more diverse opportunities which helps increase your value. You become more valuable to your current and future clients as well as for future employment or business opportunities. Many health/fitness professionals with only basic foundational certifications are struggling to make a steady and meaningful income. By building your personal brand on specialization, you can

 Special populations

CarolAnn, M.S., the creator of Chiseled Faith®, is a 25-year industry veteran holding positions such as program director, studio owner, educator, presenter, and author. She has developed programs for organizations such as FiTOUR, Hydracize, MedFit Network, and PT Global. Along with producing and starring in several fitness videos, she is a health and fitness expert contributor for publications such as Livestrong, PFP, and New Tampa Style Magazine. She is currently an Education Provider for FiTOUR and on the Health Advisory Board for MedFit Network. She has been selected to be a 2019-2021 National Fitness Hall of Fame Fitness Superstar.