Clients signing up for personal training come from a wide variety of fitness backgrounds, from those that are starting a fitness program for the first time (including those starting late in life) and those for whom fitness has been a way of life and are looking to improve.
I devised the trainer continuum one day when I was bored (oh the shenanigans I get into!) as a training tool when I am working with newer trainers or educating my clients on why training with me is such an awesome deal.
The top half of the continuum shows the knowledge, skills and abilities of the entry level certified personal trainer. CPT’s are typically trained to handle clients that are medically cleared, healthy, under 300 lbs and under 55 years of age. They can generally help a client develop muscle and lose weight.
To maintain a current personal training certification the trainer must complete a specified amount of continuing education per cycle, which is anywhere from every 1-4 years, 2 years being the most common and current CPR/AED certification through a live clinic.Independent trainers must also maintain current liability insurance.
The top three well-regarded CPT licensing agencies are the National Academy of Sports Medicine (NASM), American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM) and the National Strength and Conditioning Association (NSCA.) Other major agencies include NFPT,NCSF,ISSA and ACE.
The gray area represents the clients that fall between “Medically cleared, but has a risk factor” to the “Fit person with competitive athletic goals.” Erring on the side of caution, I could reasonably speculate there are more trainers capable on the athletic side of the continuum than on the medical side, however this is not always the case and not all risk factors are equal.
For example, a male having a >40 inch waist is considered a risk factor. If the client presents no other major risk factors (I.E. Diabetes, A-Fib etc) and is medically cleared and otherwise healthy then diet is the primary concern and training can commence.
Similarly, a 60 year old client with a lifetimes worth of experience in non-competitive training or a master class athlete is quite a different animal from a 60 year old sedentary client.
Speaking from personal experience, some commercial gyms will assign clients to whichever trainer is available. Whether or not the trainer is actually equipped or capable of training the client is not considered, therefore you could have a trainer that is ill prepared to develop a performance or medical based program to suit your needs.