Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Trainer vs. Dietician....

As a certified personal fitness trainer (CPFT), I distinctly remember learning the professional boundaries of a CPFT regarding nutrition. As a lifelong athlete, I immediately saw the link between a healthy diet and a weight loss. Kinda like peanut butter and jelly, the 2 just go together when striving toward a healthy lifestyle. You can’t work off a bad diet and the best diet in the world will not build a finely tone physique.

Thus, I asked the professionals from AFAA who were teaching the weekend course if I could give clients meal plans or dietary assistance. Afterall, I studied nutrition as my major for one year while attending Cal Poly in San Luis Obispo, CA and have been obsessed with healthy eating since I was a varsity scholarship athlete throughout both middle school and high school.

Unless you are a registered dietian, you are not allowed to give clients any dietary programs to follow”, was the resounding answer. Personal testimony is one thing but written meal plans are out of a personal trainer’s area of expertise. Unfortunately, there is not one governing body over the certification of personal fitness trainers and there are no repercussions for trainers who ignore this limitation. That is a detriment to the consumer because some trainers are unsafe and do not follow sound training principles let alone have sufficient knowledge about nutrition.

In fact, some trainers abuse the power of influence they have over their clients and these boneheads probably do not a have clue about proper nutrition. Media doesn’t help since one article will tell you that milk is the best thing since sliced bread yet the next research finding will say that pasteurized milk is the worst thing for Americans. What to believe? Only registered dietians and holistic specialists are professionally recognized to answer that question! Unfortunately, they do not see eye to eye either.

My point is that Certified Personal Fitness Trainers are not qualified to write meal plans, prepare grocery lists, recommend caloric intake or restriction, or construct daily nutrient consumption unless they are registered with a professional organization that is recognized as such by the Sports and Fitness community and the ADA (American Dietary Association).

The reason for this blurb? A mentor of mine, one who has a huge influence in the lives of striving personal trainers, is going out of his area of expertise trying to make money with nutrition and diet plans. If he has earned the educational merits necessary to do such, I am overreacting and my apologies, but it bothers me that he is sending the wrong message to other trainers. He (CB) is sending the message that Personal Fitness trainers can prescribe meal plans when in fact, they cannot. They may be able to in Canada, but it is out of the professional scope of practice in the United States.

My mentor is a brilliant trainer who follows a holistic lifestyle but again, he’s not certified as a holistic lifestyle coach. I have gained certification as a Holistic Lifestyle Coach with one of the best in the business: Paul Chek. Paul received harsh criticism and refute from registered dietitians when he first called the program Nutrition and Lifestyle coach. The ADA made him change the name of the program since he was not registered as a dietitian. Even as a holistic lifestyle coach, I cannot write meal plans until I reach a certain credential.

Get it? Credentials. They count.

I am a professional who only wants to protect the consumer from frauds and dangerous scams. Any bonehead on the internet can claim that a person only needs a certain amount of protein each day or that their meal plan is the fat-blasting answer to weight loss but people beware: these are marketing geniuses only after a buck. Your buck.

Kelly Says Do This: Beware of quick fixes and bogus meal plans written by starving trainers. The only professionals qualified to write such plans are people who have the credentials. Beware. And trainers, be aware of the professional scope of your practice. You cannot write meal plans unless you have recognized certification or are a registered dietitian.

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