Becoming a nutritionist, personal trainer or both shouldn’t always be about weight loss. Too often you see the online marketing focusing solely on how many kilos a person has lost to draw the eyes of new potential clients. Fair enough, that is some peoples motivation and there’s nothing wrong with that. Just make sure it is the clients choice and not your own agenda to get as much recognition as possible for what they have achieved with your help.

Health and wellness isn’t just about weight loss. In some cases, losing weight can be the start of a longer journey into being a healthy individual depending on where they are starting out and how much they feel they have to go. You see generic guidelines all the time in terms of how much weight we should be losing, a pound a week give or take, but what happens when the person doesn’t have that much to lose? Do the guidelines stay the same? Should they feel frustrated because their body isn’t responding the way the guidelines say they should?


Jonny Holland, Dr. Liam Hennessy and the Fitnessworx team at an event in Cork.

Don’t get me wrong, in a lot of cases weight loss can be very beneficial. Carrying less excessive weight can improve a person’s energy, self-confidence and some of the time their general health but there is evidence to suggest that you don’t have to have the worlds best body composition to be fit and healthy, after all, what would you define as the worlds best body composition? Is that subjective?

For some people they become fixated on getting leaner and leaner. I have come across some athletes that have become too lean and ended up with regular coughs, colds or flu’s. Becoming obsessed with body composition isn’t a healthy way to be either, there’s a balance in between that we should all be striving towards. Sometimes the last kg or two may not be sustainable or suitable for a person at a certain stage of their life. It might mean sacrificing a lot of their social life, it could affect their work life and it is important for you as a trainer to know what the clients priorities in life are. Being disappointed with them because they haven’t lost the final kg for you to be able to tell the story certainly won’t benefit what could potentially be an already stressed life.

Other things that you can focus on as a nutritionist or a personal trainer are how the effort in training or with their nutritional habits can lead to overall energy improvements which will impact positively on the rest of their life. That could be the energy they have when they walk in the door of the gym, the energy they bring away from the gym into their home or work life or their perception of how they are feeling. Unfortunately this doesn’t make for very attractive advertising but this isn’t about you, it’s about them. They’re paying for these improvements, whether you get a free opportunity to advertise afterwards isn’t your choice.

Maybe the aim isn’t to lose weight but it is to become stronger and increase muscle mass for improved stability and less pain going forward from the 4th and 5th decade of life where muscle mass and strength can be tougher to hold on to. This strength and decreased pain will have a positive impact on your client in life away from the gym as much as it will boost their confidence inside the gym.


Setanta College PT students working on mobility at a practical workshop in the SportsLab, Thurles.

Perhaps the whole point of the client seeking out a personal trainer was a short term decision to allow them the confidence to go to a public gym themselves and carry on with the habits and exercises that you have taught them so they can make sustainable changes over time. This is still something to be proud of as a trainer and just because they aren’t doing it under your direct tutelage doesn’t mean you weren’t part of the process. Quite often you would see a trainer showing a previous client that is still doing well without them because they have taught them the foundations so well that they were able to use them going forward. This is a real success for you as a trainer. Don’t just tell someone what to do, show them and explain why so they can thrive in a similar environment going forward with more confidence and assurance.

Some people don’t actually care as much about how they look. It’s not about adding the extra kilo of muscle mass. It’s just about doing something positive for themselves, their mental health, a positive flow of endorphins. This is one of the most powerful reasons to exercise and can help a person to manage their stresses away from the gym. People on your social channels don’t always need to see that. The connection between you and your client is more important and is a much better business plan than showing others. Word of mouth is a powerful tool in this industry and organic growth in your business can be much more satisfying than targeted advertising on your Instagram.

Don’t get me wrong, there’s a time and a place for it and we all benefit from others knowing what we do, or where to find you and how they can get in touch. But remember it isn’t the only way that clients will come to you.

This is a simple reminder that what you do is for others first and not always for you. You don’t need to force weight loss or body composition on others. Try to understand a client’s reasons for training and goals instead of assuming or forcing yours on them. Sometimes it will be weight or fat loss, sometimes muscle gain but a lot of other times it is just to feel better, be more confident, be stronger and improve their general and overall health.

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