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As you all know, I have been at courses for the past 3 weeks. I participated in the first one and presented in the last two weekends. The company that I present for is a leader, internationally, in women’s health education for personal trainers (and now physio’s, massage therapists, and other manual therapists). The company prides itself on evidence based protocols, and certifying the trainer in the best and latest techniques available.

The training for our Modern Pregnancy Exercise and Modern Post Natal Exercise courses are specific to people who are qualified to prescribe movement. We also offer manual skills for some common complaints in these populations – like releasing the piriformis or ITB.

The courses also include some nutrition advice, and help us direct and guide our clients to good information. It is important, that whether we are personal trainers, physios, or nutritionists, that we understand our scope of practise. There is a huge difference between guiding someone to whole food choices, and designing meal plans (including supplements) when you are not a qualified nutrition coach or consultant. My only advice is to reference your decisions if you are going to prescribe food, especially if supplemented, without adequate qualifications.

Having said that, there is a plethora of personal trainers in the limelight offering weight loss solutions for mum’s, and I wanted to discuss how they’re choosing who they train with. I would also recommend that if you position yourself as someone who trains mum’s, that you have the appropriate qualifications to do so. When a client attends your “mums and bubs” session, they are already assuming that:

  1. This trainer has the correct qualifications to train me. But do you? Whether you are diabetic, under 18, post natal, or suffer back pain, there are credentials that a trainer can obtain specific to those populations.
  2. That this train can provide what I want from them. If they want a meal plan, are you certified to provide it? Do you refer to a nutritionist?
  3. That this trainer will provide any checks or screenings that I need. It won’t occur to 99% of your mama clients to get cleared from a Women’s Health Physio first, or a cardio patient their doctor. If the client has ever had a child, you should check their abs and ask about their pelvic floor – whether they are male or female, there’s no excuse for ignoring whole pieces of human anatomy in the screening process. Did you know that checking blood pressure was part of every trainer’s Duty Of Care? Do you check every single client?
  4. This trainer refer out when they are out of their depth. Or do you try and “do it all”? For example, if you have ongoing back pain, will they send you to a physio or just avoid the exercises that trigger it? Or, try to “fix” it without a qualified diagnosis?

These are a couple of things that you should know about personal training generally (your “Scope of Practise)“:

  1. You are not qualified to diagnose – that is OUT of your scope of practise. That is unless, of course, you also happen to be a physio!
  2. You are not qualified to give nutrition advice – unless you have a specific certification.
  3. You are not qualified to train post natal women until they are fully restored. It also begs the question how that trainer would know a woman was fully restored?
  4. My trainer is insured to train me. Fitness Australia & Physical Activity Australia are the two main regulatory bodies in Australia. If you trainer is registered with either of them, then you are continuing your education and you are insured.

I’d encourage each and every one of you to think about your certifications, and if any of your clients belong to a special needs group – like women who have had kids, over 55’s, diabetics, hernia, injury, etc – to ensure that you carry a certification to meet their need.