With the growth and development of the fitness industry in Singapore, the concept of ethical integrity has taken on greater significance – especially in the context of a Trainer-Client Relationship.
Even as the majority of fitness/wellness professionals do seem to uphold a high level of ethical behaviour here in Singapore, there is an alarming trend of individual trainers or instructors who are increasingly toeing the line of what constitutes proper ethical behaviour in the industry.
From our observations and on-the-grounds feedback from trainers and the General Public alike, the following ethical issues seem to be of particular concern:
- Business Procedures
- Professional Boundaries
- Education & Certifications
- Client Confidentiality
- Supplement Sales
Let’s look at each in turn.
A. General Business Procedures
Just like all other businesses, fitness/wellness professionals are expected to conduct their businesses ethically and professionally. Sound business practices and protocols should be adhered to at ALL times. Unfortunately, in real life, this is not often the case. Incidents such as: inaccurate/false service representations, improper dressing code, poor service attitude, and even haphazard payment and billing procedures etc seem quite the norm. Fitness/Wellness Professionals must be reminded the onus is on them to conduct themselves professionally, truthfully and with utmost integrity at all times, especially when it comes to day-to-day business procedures.
B. Professional Boundaries
The relationship between a fitness/wellness professional and his/her client has to remain professional at ALL times. Boundaries have to be drawn to prevent this relationship from veering into ‘dangerous waters’. In Singapore, there have been reported cases of inappropriate behaviours – usually of a romantic or sexual nature – occurring between trainers and clients. These incidents – though few and far between – still prove that more can be done by trainers and coaches to uphold their professionalism in EACH and EVERY situation in order to avoid such unwanted incidents from happening.
C. Education & Certifications
It is the professional responsibility of all fitness/wellness professionals to obtain and maintain the relevant fitness certifications and qualifications needed for their respective areas of service and expertise. Unfortunately, some coaches and instructors FAIL to exhibit this basic professional responsibility and choose to either 1) wilfully provide services and advice despite being NOT qualified or certified to do so, and/or 2) allowing their certifications to lapse BEYOND their expiry/renewal dates. Such incidents of providing services outside one’s scope of practice, and using out-dated or expired certifications – threaten to bring the fitness industry here in Singapore into disrepute.
D. Client Confidentiality
All fitness/wellness professionals have an unspoken responsibility to treat their clients’ personal information and records with utmost confidentiality and privacy. However, in reality, here in Singapore, some trainers are known – especially during informal discussions and/or social settings – to indulge in ‘loose talk’ and openly gossip, share and divulge private information pertaining to their clients one to another – whether knowingly or unknowingly. Such behaviors cannot be condoned, and should be consciously abstained from in order to upkeep the professional image of the industry.
E. Supplement Sales
In the Singapore Fitness Industry, it is not unheard-of for some trainers to actually pocket MORE income from supplement and product sales than from actual training/coaching sessions. As the supplement industry is far from being well-regulated, and more often than not characterized by misleading, unsubstantiated, and even false claims, serious and bona fide fitness professionals are well-advised to steer clear from the temptation of monetizing from the sales and commissions from health supplements.
In summary, as the fitness industry continues its path to growth and maturity in Singapore, the onus lies on all current health/fitness professionals, as well as those contemplating and/or embarking on a career in fitness, health and exercise conditioning – to take a brave stand, and to be counted upon to uphold the highest level of professionalism and ethical conduct in all their dealings with the public and with their clients.