Engaging A Fitness Trainer/Coach – Are You Taking a Big RISK?

August 14, 2015

Picture of fitness providerWith Singapore fast emerging as a major Fitness Hub in the world, it is no surprise therefore to see a corresponding jump in the number and variety of exercise trends emerging in our fitness landscape.

As of today, practically all kinds of fitness and exercise-related services could be found in our little island-state: ranging from the common: private personal training, group aerobics, fitness boot camps etc; to the weird and exotic: anti-gravity classes, animal movement-based exercises, hybrid workouts, extreme calisthenics etc. All co-existing pretty much side-by-side and offering the Public a mouth-watering buffet of fitness options.

And with this slew of choices, many people are also now open to the idea of sourcing for and engaging their very own private fitness provider, individual coach and/or personal trainer to lead them and their loved ones in the workout of their choice.

And herein lies the DANGER.

For with the increase in popularity and demand for fitness providers, and a corresponding SURGE in the numbers of such instructors and coaches in recent years, questions have been raised about the QUALITY of these personnel working in the industry.

Add to that, quite a few HORROR stories have been emerging of trainers/coaches who have been a great DIS-SERVICE to their clients in one way or another and who, in the process, have TARNISHED the fitness industry with their UN-PROFESSIONALISM (think: trainers from HELL!!).

To help consumers reduce their RISK of engaging a provider with questionable credentials and/or intentions, we – at Singapore Fitness Professionals Network – have come up with the following CHECKLIST that would serve as a useful guide to all consumers.

Do use it to SCREEN all your potential coaches, instructors and trainers:

Fitness Provider Checklist:

 A. Professional Qualifications & Certifications

  • What are the qualifications that the trainer/coach/instructor possess?
  • Are these qualifications/certifications from reputable and recognized institutions/organizations?
  • Is there a way to verify if they are genuine and valid?
  • How many of these qualifications indicate advanced/specialized skills attainment?
  • Does the provider possess a specific certification/qualification that caters to your own unique situation or condition (medical or otherwise)
  • How often do these qualifications have to be renewed and what is the process involved?
  • How often does the provider attend upgrading and/or continuing education courses? When was the last time he/she attended one?
  • How thorough is the entire certification/education process? (Is it attained via online/on-site/correspondence? Does it take a 12 months/3 months/1 week /1 weekend/1-day to complete?)

B. Relevant Experience

  • How many years of coaching experience does the trainer/coach/instructor has?
  • Are these years of experiences formally clocked-in and tracked?
  • How diverse and sustained were these coaching experiences?
  • Is there a way to verify and validate the authenticity of all these coaching experiences?
  • Are these coaching experiences relevant and specific to your goals, needs, age and/or medical conditions?

C. Client References/Testimonials

  • Does the provider offer testimonials, references and other social proof?
  • Are the testimonials comprehensive and diverse in nature?
  • Are there ways to verify if these testimonials are genuine and unadulterated?

D. Individual & Personality Characteristics

  • Does your provider show pride in appearance and attire?
  • Does he/she come across as positive and enthusiastic?
  • Is he/she pleasant, respectful and non-judgmental?
  • Does he/she give you the impression of someone who is well-organized and well-prepared?
  • Does he/she come across as mature, dependable and trustworthy?
  • Does he/she demonstrate competence and knowledge in the required subject area?
  • Does he/she have a good and fluent command of the language you use?
  • Does he/she exhibit good overall communication skills?
  • Do you feel comfortable opening-up and talking with him/her about your health/fitness issues?
  • Do you find it easy to strike up a rapport with him/her?
  • Finally, does your fitness provider look the part? (think: “walking the walk”)

These and more are the questions that EVERYONE should be asking himself/herself before committing to any paid fitness regime.

If your provider ticks 90% or more of the above boxes, then – CONGRATULATIONS – you got yourself an AWESOME trainer!

However, if it’s more misses than hits, then perhaps it’s better for you to reconsider your choice and look elsewhere!

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Ethical Issues Within The Singapore Fitness Industry

September 23, 2014

Image of a group of fitness professionalsWith 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:

  1. Business Procedures
  2. Professional Boundaries
  3. Education & Certifications
  4. Client Confidentiality
  5. 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.


2014 Fitness Trends In Singapore

February 27, 2014

Image of a fitness session in progress.Fitness is, and has continued through the last couple of years, to be an ever-growing phenomenon here in Singapore.

With more and more people embracing the health fitness lifestyle here, coupled with the ever-increasing proliferation of fitness chains, commercial and private fitness facilities, small boutique studios, and even converted warehouse (read “hardcore”) gyms, it is no surprise that as we enter year 2014,  a number of interesting new trends pertaining to the Singapore fitness industry have emerged.

Our sources close to the ground have identified a number of key emerging trends that are worth noticing – especially for fitness coaches, personal trainers and exercise professionals – who would like to keep abreast of the latest developments in their industry and country.

The following are some of the fitness trends that would possibly have a huge impact on our local fitness industry for year 2014 and beyond (in no particular order of significance):

1) Small Group Training

Unlike both personal training (where coaching is done 1-to-1) and group exercise classes – which include aerobics, dance and yoga classes as well as fitness boot camps (where class size could easily exceed 20), small group training focuses on participants ranging from 2 to usually 5 or 6, and hardly, if ever, exceeding 8. This format allows the trainer to tailor both short-term programs and specialized workouts to cater to specific population groups. As a trend, it is indeed growing in Singapore – as seen in the sheer number of small group workout programs available in both private facilities as well as those conducted in public venues throughout the island.

2) Outdoor Fitness Workouts

Another trend that is on the rise is outdoor fitness training. With Nature and its surrounding greenery just a stone’s throw away from most homes here in Singapore, more and more people are now ditching the 4 walls and stale air of indoor gyms for the Bright Sun, Fresh Air and Cool Breeze of  outdoor environments. Go to any public park, beach or open stadium in Singapore – especially during the early morning hours and the late evenings – and the sheer number of people working-out outdoors easily verifies the above observation.

3) Minimalistic Training Approach

Think body-weight exercises, suspension training, home workouts etc – and you will have got the gist of what minimalistic training is all about. In essence – minimalistic fitness – as its name implies – means getting into great shape and developing superb fitness – with little or no equipment. Contrary to popular belief, it is indeed POSSIBLE to achieve one’s fitness goals with just one’s own body weight and surrounding environment. And this trend is indeed taking the nation of Singapore by storm, as more and more individuals and fitness enthusiasts are now shunning gym machines and turning to minimalistic training for their fitness kicks.

4) Medical Fitness & Corrective Exercise Programs

With modernization and technological advances come along inactivity and sedentariness. And none so more apparent than in our tiny little island-state of Singapore where a large majority of people are leading not only sedentary lifestyles, but also developing accompanying disorders such as medical ailments, metabolic dysfunctions and other physical and musculoskeletal impairments as a direct result of their sedentary lifestyle choices. Thus, it is not surprising that new fitness sub-disciplines – that of medical fitness and corrective exercise – have emerged and mushroomed to cater to the growing demand and needs of this specific group of population who are facing immense medical and physical challenges.

5) Specialized Age-Related Fitness Programs

With a wide range and diversity of age groups among the Singapore population, specialized fitness programs catering to each of this group have also emerged and continued to grow over the years. Some of this age-related programs, such as those specifically catering to Kids Fitness, Youth/Teen Fitness, and Older Adults/Senior Fitness are rapidly gaining traction and popularity here in the country.

Conclusion

The above 5 fitness trends are by NO means the only ones observed here in Singapore. Obviously, there are also others that have, or are beginning, to emerge too.

However, in our opinion, they (the above-mentioned) are probably some of the MORE significant ones to have taken hold of our little island-state in recent times.

Of course, it remains to be seen – down the road – how many of them will actually continue to grow, lay their roots and make their mark here in the local fitness industry.


Hiring The Right Fitness Provider In Singapore

November 11, 2013

Image of a fitness specialistWith the growth and expansion of the fitness industry in Singapore, more and more people are now turning to professional fitness providers to meet their various fitness needs.

And with the wide variety of fitness professionals available in this country, each specializing in a specific fitness niche, it can be quite overwhelming and even confusing for the average consumer to decide which kind of fitness professional to turn to for his/her fitness needs.

Just as you would not turn to a dentist for a stomach ailment, nor a doctor for a gum problem, it is crucial that you do NOT end up with the WRONG fitness provider for your fitness needs.

Not only would it be a pure waste of your money and time if you do so, but also almost a sure bet that you would hardly see any progress – if any – in the health/fitness area that you are seeking help for.

Therefore, BEFORE you engage a fitness provider, make sure you run through the following checklist to make sure that you get the RIGHT match for your fitness needs.

A point to note also before we present the checklist:

You may come across certain fitness professionals who claim they are able to meet ANY and EVERY of your fitness need that you have – from correcting your posture, to overhauling your diet, to even providing you with needling/acupuncture/body massage/sports apparel/fitness equipment/supplement sales services etc etc!

As good as this may sound, BEWARE of these everything-goes “Jack-Of-All-Trades” super salesmen / saleswomen !

To our knowledge, the truly SERIOUS, SUCCESSFUL and RESPECTED fitness pros here in Singapore are those who are SPECIALISTS in their respective niches: professionals who focus on just a few closely related areas and services within their fitness scope.

They are definitely NOT generalists (or should we call them OPPORTUNISTS???) who try to cater to everything and anything under the sun!

Enough said. The following is a checklist of WHO to turn to – when you are seeking help for a specific fitness need:

Fitness Needs & Their Respective Specialists:

1) For General Fitness Conditioning/ Fat Loss / Weight Gain >>>>> Get yourself a Personal Trainer or a Fitness Coach

2) For Optimum Sport Performance Enhancement >>>>> Get yourself a Sports Conditioning Specialist or a Strength -&-Conditioning Coach

3) For Postural Correction, Muscular Imbalances, Injury Rehabilitation  >>>>> Get yourself a Corrective Exercise Specialist or a Physical Therapist

4) For Mind/Body Wellness >>>>> Get yourself a Yoga Teacher or a Meditation Therapist

5) For Specialized Core Conditioning or Core Rehabilitation >>>>> Get yourself a Pilates Instructor or a Core Conditioning Specialist

6) For Nutritional Counselling or Dietary Modifications >>>>> Get yourself a Sports Nutritionist or a Dietician

5) For Pre-Post Natal Fitness Conditioning >>>>> Get yourself a Pre-Post Natal Fitness Specialist

6) For Specific Medical Issues Or Metabolic Conditions  ( diabetes, hypertension, high blood cholesterol etc) >>>>> Get yourself a Special Populations Fitness Specialist

7) For Other Special Populations ( Kids, Older Adults, Physically Challenged) >>>>> Get yourself a certified fitness trainer in that particular area of need, for example, a Kids/Youth Fitness Specialist, or an Older Adults/Senior Citizens Fitness Specialist etc.

Well, there you have it – a comprehensive list of the various fitness specializations available here in Singapore.

So the next time you need a fitness provider for a specific fitness need you have, not only would you know where to look for one, but also learn how to avoid the common mistakes that other consumers make.


Succeeding As A Fitness Entrepreneur In Singapore

October 20, 2012

Fitness has become a mainstay in the lives of many here in Singapore.Image of a Private Fitness Entrepreneur

In so much that many young men and women in the country are now actively considering fitness careers in the Singapore Fitness Industry, hungrily eyeing positions in commercial fitness facilities, or even trying their hands at becoming fitness entrepreneurs and business owners themselves.

At Singapore Fitness Professionals Network, we are constantly inundated with emails from aspiring fitness professionals – both from within and without Singapore – requesting for more information on how they can be part of the booming fitness industry here in the country.

And most of these requests, interestingly, are centred around on how one  can set-up and run his/her own private fitness facility, practice or consultancy firm here in the country.

As such, and in view of the above, we would like to offer the following list of attributes that all aspiring fitness entrepreneurs can refer to, to assess their very own suitability in becoming a successful private fitness entrepreneur.

Traits Required To Succeed As A Fitness Entrepreneur:

1. Passion

Passion is the most important trait of the successful fitness entrepreneur. Without it, you can NEVER succeed. In order to see the fruits of your labour, you really need to be passionate about your fitness niche, and truly love what you do. You must also be willing to make the necessary sacrifices, sweat and tears in order to make your dreams a reality.

2. Self-Belief

Successful fitness entrepreneurs truly believe in their abilities, talents and calling. They have an unwavering sense of self-belief that they CAN and WILL succeed in their fitness pursuits – come what may – and spare no effort in making this belief a reality.

3. Vision

Succesful fitness entrepreneurs not only know what they want, but more importantly, how to get there. They also have the ability to: view things and happenings around them with an analytical and open mind, interpret and predict future trends, patterns and behaviours, and focus on building their businesses around what works and what people want.

4. Strong Communication Skills

Fitness entrepreneurs have strong communication and people skills as they need to convince others to do business with them. Most successful fitness entrepreneurs know how to motivate themselves, their business partners, their co-workers and their clients to all work towards helping them to grow their fitness businesses and to achieve their goals.

5. Sound Business Acumen

All successful fitness entrepreneurs have sharp business minds and strong inclinations in business operations – including strategic planningbusiness networking, sales and marketing, public relations, cash flow management, human resource management etc. With their strong business grounding, they are able to build and launch their fitness businesses on solid foundations.

The above represents – what we think – are some of the most important attributes needed for an entrepreneur-minded fitness professional to succeed here in Singapore.

Obviously, not everyone is cut out to be an entrepreneur or business owner. In fact, many may be better off simply working for others in public and commercial fitness establishments.

Only some – the cream of the crop – will eventually succeed as private fitness professionals and entrepreneurs.

For those readers who feel strongly that you possess most, if not all, of the above qualities, and have truly what it takes to be a successful fitness entrepreneur, we strongly encourage you to press on and make your dreams a reality!

Be assured that we – at Singapore Fitness Professionals Network – will be behind you all the way!


Singapore’s Best Sources Of Fitness Information

August 9, 2012

Image of fitness consultation in actionReaders who having been following our last blog entry would no doubt be eagerly awaiting the sequel to our fitness blog : “Singapore’s Fitness Culture: Where Does The Public Get Its Fitness Information From?”

As discussed in our earlier blog, most Singaporeans – in their frenzy to look good and feel good – are turning to entirely WRONG and UNRELIABLE sources for help: sources like the Internet, off-the-rack “health” and “fitness” magazines and even fellow gym-goers for advice.

By doing so, not only are they exposing themselves to the real risks of fitness MIS-information, but also putting their very own bodies, health and fitness in jeopardy.

So, where then should one turn-to for authentic, real and truthful fitness information here in Singapore?

Our panel of professional Singapore fitness coaches, consultants and trainers would like to offer the follow recommendations to our readers:

1) Research-Backed Scientific Exercise Journals

By these, we mean publications from sound and established exercise science foundations and sports science institutions. For instance, publications such as the following offer genuine, trustworthy and scientific fitness information to the public:

  • Journal Of Exercise Physiology
  • Journal Of Sports Science And Medicine
  • Medicine And Science In Sports And Medicine
  • Journal Of Strength & Conditioning

In addition to the above, fitness publications from reputable fitness organizations such as: ACSM (American College Of Sports Medicine), IDEA (International Dance & Exercise Association), ACE ( American Council On Exercise) , NCSF ( National Council On Strength And Fitness) and a handful of other fitness organizations are also trustworthy and worth a read to anyone who is into fitness.

So the next time you are tempted to reach out for that glossy, off-the-rack “fitness” magazine again, do think twice before you act.

Because you’ll be so much BETTER OFF and SAFER gleaning your fitness information from real, authentic scientific sources (such as the above-mentioned) than from those commercial, for-profit-only fitness magazines.

2) Certified Fitness Professionals And Coaches 

Bona-fide fitness professionals who have undergone the full spectrum of academic studies, on-the-field practical sessions and fulfilled rigorous certifying procedures would also be a good source of fitness information for the lay person out there.

Fully qualified and certified fitness instructors, exercise trainers and sports coaches offer you a ready, on-hand source of reliable fitness information to tap upon.

These very same fitness professionals would also be the best persons to offer you in-depth, scientific fitness explanations, perspectives and understanding that you will never get by chatting to your typical gym-rat or workout buddy at your neighbourhood fitness facility.

Now that you know where to go to for accurate fitness information, there’s no reason for you to continue being a VICTIM of fitness MIS-information again.

Always remember to seek the RIGHT fitness sources, and you’ll never go wrong in your fitness pursuits ever again.


Singapore’s Fitness Culture: Where Does The Public Get Its Fitness Information From?

June 3, 2012

The fitness scene here in Singapore has certainly grown by leaps and bounds over the past decade.Image of people exercising.

More people ever than before are now involved in fitness pursuits and exercises, ranging from gym-based resistance training to outdoor fitness boot camps to even mixed martial arts fitness programs.

Unfortunately, the majority of the Singapore Public – in its keenness to devour all things fitness – may have gleaned its fitness information from entirely wrong or even unsuitable sources – as our contacts close to the ground and within the fitness trenches right here in Singapore (think: personal trainers, fitness coaches, strength-and-conditioning coaches and other fitness professionals etc) seem to indicate to us.

The following are some of the most common and popular sources of fitness information (or should we say, MIS-information) that many here in Singapore tend to turn to in their thirst for greater fitness and better bodies:

1) The Internet

The internet is indeed a goldmine of fitness information. Unfortunately much of it is also mixed with half-truths, myths, misinformation and even downright lies!

With the large boom in “muscle”, “health” and “fitness” blogs/sites found on the internet nowadays, many supposedly run by “gurus” or “experts” in the fitness field, many here in Singapore have inadvertently found themselves drawn to these sites by their attractive and enticing portrayal of fitness, nutrition and training advice.

Unfortunately, upon closer scrutiny and careful examination, many of these internet site are really featuring fitness information that is based on fads, popular culture, half-truths and founded on research with little, if any, scientific backing.

And since the large majority of Singaporeans do NOT have much formal academic foundations in exercise science, sports nutrition or even fitness studies, many are thus unable to distinguish fact from fiction on many of these sites; thus putting themselves at a great risk of being misled by the Internet.

2) Health/Fitness Magazines

Go to any bookshop and you’ll find row and rows of “fitness” and “health” magazines portraying buffed physiques of fitness models or professional athletes.

Much as these magazines may claim to represent “real” fitness information, the sad truth is that these magazines are often run on the basis of PROFIT and are often forced to churn out content after content in accordance to the wishes of their pay-masters ( the ADVERTISERS – such as supplement companies and exercise equipment manufacturers)

As such, much of the information are often highly biased, and skewed in nature, and are often geared towards highlighting certain brands of products/equipment/supplements (or even drugs!); and often portray drug-fueled athletes/models who are themselves financially backed by these very same companies!

Furthermore, ask any insider in the advertising or publishing industry, and you’ll be SHOCKED at how many of these so-called “buffed” physiques seen in the magazines are actually highly-processed images that have gone through countless rounds of photoshopping, airbrushing and computer-manipulation so that the end product (the published images) look 110% better than their real persons!

On top of that, a lot of the (mis)information emanating from these magazines also arise from the fact that the training and dietary routines portrayed in them are often relevant only to high-level professional athletes/experienced trainees who have years and years of training in their related sport, with superb genetics to boot, and who are more often than not on some kind of physique- or performancing-enhancing “juice”.

Precious little, if any of the information found in most off-the-rack fitness magazines are realisticpractical or even applicable to the average, on-the-street Singaporean guy or gal who simply needs to lose a few pounds, pack on a little size, or just seeking to tone up a few lagging areas of the body.

In fact, anyone who tries to follow the bulk of advice and routines found in these magazines – in an unthinking, blind and wholesale fashion – is simply foolhardy at best, and downright suicidal at worst!

3) Fellow Gym-Goers

Getting advice from other gym-goers also seems to be a popular way of obtaining fitness information here in Singapore.

In a typical “Monkey-See, Monkey-Do” scenario, the shy scrawny guy or the overweight gal with poor self-image – both desperate to transform their bodies – end up so blinded and enamoured with their respective gyms’ resident “Muscle Guy” or “Buffed Chick” that they decide – once and for all – that whatever their “Hero” or “Heroine” says, does or do in the gym, they would likewise follow – right down to the last dot.

Unfortunately, this concept simply does not work in real life.

As every individual responds to training differently, what works for one may not necessarily work for another! Add to the fact that “Mr Muscle Guy” and “Ms Buffed Chick” are usually individuals who are gifted with great genetics, so that even if their training programs are downright faulty, unbalanced or even grossly dangerous and unscientific, they would still get to see results – nevertheless! ( yes, life’s UNFAIR, we know) And not to mention that many of these Great Bods out there (though 99% of them would never admit to it) have previously, or are currently taking illegal aids such as steroids, growth hormones, diuretics and other drugs – to get them to where they are now!

Thus, for the average fitness enthusiast out there who hopes to bank on his/her fellow gym-goers for fitness information and guidance, is simply setting himself/herself out for a lifetime of misery, frustration, and heartache.

Not only is he/she NOT going to end up looking like his/her ‘HERO(INE)” in all probability after all, the chances of being MISinformed and MISled with a slew of pseudo-jumbo fitness information is much HIGHER than the non-gym goer!

Conclusion

So, where then should Singaporeans turn to for authentic, scientific and research-based fitness information? Stay tuned for the answer in our next blog issue!