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.


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!


Ethics Within The Singapore Fitness Profession

February 6, 2012

image of fitness trainingIn Singapore and in other parts of the world – which have an active, vibrant fitness scene – trainers, coaches and instructors who provide professional fitness services of one kind or another are expected to abide to a code of ethics governing their interactions and transactions with members of the public.

These code of ethics are usually set forth by the respective fitness organizations that issue certifications to trainers, and most, if not all, have codes of conduct such as: providing quality instruction to clients, not discriminating against persons irrespective of race, gender or age, respecting other fellow fitness professionals and carrying oneself with utmost integrity and professionalism.

And to our knowledge, the majority of Singapore Fitness Pros do abide to these ethical codes and have little, if any, problem living up to them.

Unfortunately, like in every other industry, there are always some black sheep among the community who blatantly disregard these ethics for their own agendas.

Below mentioned are some of the common ethical shortcomings observed among a small segment of fitness professionals within our community:

1. Trainers Who Are More Interested In Selling “Fitness Products” Than Coaching Itself

These trainers are the ones who believe in pushing sales of supplements, pills, powders, and other fitness products onto their unsuspecting clients. In fact, for some of these trainers – the profits from the sales of these products far outweigh their earnings from coaching itself! However, from an ethical point of view, this business of selling should be frowned upon as it demeans the fitness profession, and distracts from the real purpose why clients sign up for fitness lessons in the first place – basically for instruction and NOT for the purchase of fitness products.

2. Trainers Who Discriminate Against Segments Of The Population

There are also some trainers who are extremely selective and discriminatory in whom they choose to be their clients. In fact, some of them have been known to set certain arbitrary criteria when it comes to selecting clients: for example, they are only willing to take-on clients who come from certain well-to-do districts (usually the landed private property areas), belong to a certain social/economic status, or who are from a certain ‘teachable’ age group. Prospects/clients who do not satisfy these conditions are summarily dismissed by these trainers and told to “look elsewhere”. Again, such arrogant and discriminatory behaviour have no place in our fitness industry.

3. Trainers Who Do Not Abide By Their Fitness Contracts 

When a business transaction takes place between a fitness professional and a willing client, a paper contract or agreement is usually signed by both parties to acknowledge the terms and conditions under which the service will be provided and payment to be made. Unfortunately, there are known cases of trainers or instructors failing to abide by the agreed terms listed in the contract, or those who short-change their clients even after signing a contract, resulting in much inconvenience, disillusionment or even monetary losses on the part of the clients. Again, this is something extremely unbecoming and unsavoury for anyone who professes to be a professional in the fitness industry.

4. Trainers Who Get Into Inappropriate Relationships With Their Clients

As professionals providing an honourable health/fitness service to mankind, a high level of moral integrity is to expected among those who call themselves fitness professionals. Unfortunately, a small minority are always willing to forgo their morals and indulge in inappropriate or ‘hanky-panky’ relationships with their clients – either for individual gain or as a consequence of their own flawed characters. In Singapore, there have been cases of trainers having sexual relationships with married clients, being involved in straight/gay/group sex with casual prospects and openly offering special services” as part of their ‘fitness packages’. Not only does such behavior go against every grain of conduct for fitness professionals, it also casts a misleading and negative light on the profession as a whole, unfairly tainting all other trainers along with it.

6. Trainers Who Discredit Other Fellow Fitness Professionals

Whether it is out of pure jealousy, professional envy or industry rivalry, there are always some trainers or coaches who simply have no qualms discrediting their fellow fitness pros for their own individual gain. Perhaps thinking that it would help them gain an upper hand when it comes to attracting clients, these trainers would resort to spreading unfounded rumours, speaking ill-will, gossiping, or simply distorting facts regarding other trainers in order to cast a bad light on them. Again, such behaviours are not to be condoned as they merely serve to put the industry down and sow seeds of discord and suspicion among fellow trainers.

As bad as they may seem, the above ethical shortcomings are fortunately NOT the norm in the Singapore Fitness Industry.

However, the fact that they exist – shows that much can still be done to improve the state of ethics within the fitness community here.

Ultimately, the onus falls on each individual trainer, coach or instructor to uphold for himself/herself – a high standard of ethical behaviour as becoming that of a Fitness Professional – and to recognize that the benefits of adopting such sound ethical practices will eventually far outweigh any short-term gain or temporary advantage that any ethical short-cut may bring about in the long run.


How Qualified Is Your Typical Singapore Fitness Professional?

July 4, 2011

Image of personal trainer training client.Nowadays, almost anyone can call himself or herself a “fitness instructor”, a “personal trainer” or any of the various namesakes related to the Singapore Fitness Profession.

From fresh-faced school-leavers, to weary in-between-jobs cynics, to even stay-at-home moms looking for some extra income, the fitness industry is seen as a veritable “goldmine” for some people to tap upon.

And sadly, with the proliferation of numerous shady online fitness “mills” – where one can actually become a “certified” trainer with just a few hours of online study – it is indeed a frightening thought whose hands you may be subjecting your bodies and fitness to when you engage a trainer nowadays.

This leads us to the question of how professional or qualified are these “fitness professionals” selling their wares in Singapore?

To assist consumers in making an intelligent choice, we offer the following guidelines:

1) Always check to see that your trainer possesses credible fitness qualifications from recognized institutions. ( check out the following List Of Recognized Fitness Certifications And Institutions for more information)

2) Check to see that your trainer is BOTH certified in CPR (Cardio-Pulmonary Resuscitation) & AED (Automated External Defibrillation).

3) Check for the amount of Hands-On Experience that your trainer actually has within the fitness industry.

4) Also ask to view any verifiable client testimonials that your trainer may have.

5) And finally, use your own gut instinct or intuition when determining whether a trainer is the REAL deal or not.

Well, there you have it. If you are able to do the above, you greatly increase your chances of finding a trainer that is not only suitable to your needs, but also fully-qualified and highly-professional.


Best Portable Fitness Equipment For Singapore Personal Trainers And Fitness Coaches

March 7, 2011

Image of TRX suspension training in progress.As more personal trainers and fitness coaches in Singapore provide mobile and in-home fitness services to their clients across the island, the question invariably arises: what fitness equipment is best suited for training clients who have no access to a gym, or for someone who prefers working outside a gym context, or for one who is constantly on the move?

Our team at Singapore’s Directory Of  Fitness Professionals then decided to search for some viable solutions for our mobile personal fitness trainers. As we ponder over the solutions, we set in place the following criteria:

  • The choice of equipment have to be portable, compact, light-weight & convenient.
  • These fitness equipment should be able to setup easily within seconds or minutes.  
  • They must also fit comfortably into a regular-sized backpack used by most Singapore fitness professionals – thus satisfying the criteria of being a “gym in a bag”.
  • They must be versatile enough to provide a full-body workout and a wide range of exercises.
  • They must be usable and applicable to all client types: including people of varying fitness levels.

After much animated discussion and an exhaustive search on the Net, we finally shortlisted the following which we think are some of the best portable fitness equipment available around.

And in no particular order of merit, they are:

1. Jump Rope  

Image of a jump ropeThe humble jump rope is one of the most underrated piece of equipment in the fitness realm. Light, versatile and inexpensive, a single jump rope can help your client burn up to 1000 calories per hour, optimizes his/her cardiovascular fitness, tones all the major muscle groups of the body, and has the ability to maximize athleticism by integrating agility, coordination, timing, and endurance training. Not to mention that it is extremely fun and can be performed in countless variations and styles.

 

2. Resistance Tubings/Bands

Image of resistance tubingsAnother inexpensive and highly portable piece of equipment that should belong to the “toolkit” of any mobile fitness instructor is the resistance band/tubing. Available in various resistance levels, the resistance band/tubing can effectively replicate any exercise in the gym, and has the added advantage of providing multi-directional resistance – something that no free weight can do. Also, they are great for functional training as they can be used to mimic real-life sports scenarios like punching, throwing, pulling and kicking.  

 

3. Power Wheel

Image of a Power WheelThe Power Wheel is an advanced and revolutionary “Ab-Wheel” that comes with both handles and foot pedals to be used on either the feet or the hands. Commonly used as a “Core” trainer, the Power Wheel can also be used to work one’s shoulders, arms, upper back and lower body. A great portable tool for any mobile fitness trainer when making house-calls!

 

 

4. AquaBells Travel Weights

Image of AquabellsThink dumbbells that are portable, collapsible and water-filled, and you get AquaBells! When filled with water, AquaBells are basically dumbbells, but without the bulk and space-consuming features that usually accompany free weights. In all other respects, AquaBells function exactly like free weights, affording the fitness trainer a variety of exercise variations for the fitness client.

 

5. Stability Balls

 Image of Gym Balls

Stability Balls, or sometimes called “Exercise Balls”, “Physio Balls”, “Swiss Balls” or “Gym Balls” etc have been around for some time, and are most commonly used by physical therapists, exercises trainers and fitness coaches in a gym context. However, they are actually very portable, and can be easily deflated and carried along wherever one goes, and then inflated again in a matter of minutes with a pump when needed. This makes the Stability Ball a useful and portable device that can be used for core training, resistance-training or even aerobic training.

 

6. TRX Suspension Trainers

Image of a TRX Suspension TrainerThe latest fitness craze to hit Singapore must be TRX Suspension Training. As the name implies, the TRX Suspension Trainer is made up of a pair of elasticized straps that you fix to an overhead anchor point (eg. a bar or a doorway), and then make use of one’s own suspended body weight to perform a myriad of exercises. Not exactly a cheap piece of equipment ( it can cost well over S$300 apiece here in Singapore) the TRX Suspension Trainer is still a pretty useful and handy gadget for the fitness pro on-the-go.

In conclusion, portable fitness equipment are very useful tools for the mobile fitness professional, and even for the fitness enthusiast who needs to keep up with his/her workouts while traveling, when on-the-move, both indoors or outdoors.

With the above choices, Fitness Pros can now, in essence, “bring the gym along” with them wherever they go and live up to the following motto:

 The World Is Your Gym – Workout Anywhere/Anytime – Indoors Or Outdoors!!!

 


Are Expat Trainers And Foreign Instructors BAD For The Singapore Fitness Industry?

February 21, 2011

Image of a Personal Trainer training a client on a Swiss Ball.In recent years, Singapore has seen a large influx of expatriates and foreigners joining our workforce.

Within the Singapore Fitness Industry itself, industry observers have noted a marked increase in the number of foreigners and expatriates joining our local Singapore-born instructors, coaches and trainers in providing fitness/wellness-related services here.

In fact, a quick glance at various fitness niches popular here in Singapore show a remarkable mix of expat/foreign instructors within their midst.

Consider the following: it is now common to see Yogis or Yoga Gurus from India providing their yoga services here in Singapore, Aerobics Instructors from Philippines conducting aerobics classes at local clubs and schools, Dance Fitness Instructors from Mainland China offering fitness/exotic dance classes throughout the island, Personal Trainers and Fitness Instructors from Indonesia, Australia, Hong Kong etc working the commercial gyms and providing personal training in private residences across Singapore, and even American and European Fitness Coaches running their private fitness boot camp programs and outdoor group exercise workouts at our local parks, nature reserves, public stadiums, beaches etc …. and the list goes on.

So what do we make of all these?

Should Singapore instructors and coaches start tearing their hair in frustration and rue the potential loss in clients and income from this “foreign” influx? Should they fret, curse and swear, and basically give up all hope of ever “making it BIG” in the fitness profession in the face of such massive competition?

Or should local Fitness Service Providers pull up their socks, accept and embrace the changing reality around them, and take the competition head on? And perhaps even forge an alliance with these “foreign talents” and aim for a synergistic and mutually rewarding relationship ?

We – at Singapore Fitness Professionals Network – are of the opinion that we should all adopt the latter approach and create a win-win situation for all those involved.

Let’s consider this phenomenon from a positive point of view: the influx of foreign and expat trainers into the Singapore Fitness industry actually does have many advantages, such as:

1) Coming from different countries and cultures, these foreign imports do bring along with them certain unique skills, experiences and credentials that can only enrich and benefit our fitness industry as a whole. And local Singapore instructors and trainers could draw upon their foreign counterparts’ experiences and skills to further improve their own standing in the fitness industry too.

2) Foreign coaches also bring along with them valuable overseas contacts and networks that our local Singapore trainers can tap upon, or even forge an alliance with, to expand and widen their own businesses beyond the region. 

3) As the Singapore Fitness/Wellness Sector is growing at an unprecedented rate, these foreign trainers can actually help meet the demands of the fitness market, and even afford our local Singapore trainers and coaches some “breathing space” to catch up on their own professional upgrading and personal self-improvement without compromising the needs of the clients.  

 4) And more importantly, the presence of these Expat/Foreign instructors will definitely help raise the overall standard of coaching, instructing and general professionalism within the Singapore Fitness Industry – which by all accounts has much room to improve – by eliciting competition and comparison.

Thus, as the above has shown, the influx of foreign trainers and coaches can in fact be a very GOOD thing for the Singapore Fitness Industry, and a BLESSING in disguise for our own local trainers and instructors.

So the next time you see a foreign or expat trainer in our midst, do walk up to him/her and extend a warm handshake of welcome to them – for they could very well turn out to be the BEST thing ever happen to our Singapore Fitness Industry.