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.