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Personal Training: Emphasizing Education


In an industry full of quick-fixes, snake oil salesman, and “the only exercise you’ll ever need again,” what keeps you, your employees and trainers from falling into these traps? What keeps them from buying into the next biggest thing? The answer is education.

Our mission statement at Gainesville Health and Fitness (GHF) Personal Training is, “Through superior knowledge of exercise biomechanics, safety and nutrition we will motivate and challenge our clients to reach their highest level of fitness and wellbeing.” We develop superior knowledge of these subject matters by making sure that our trainers are well educated and have education opportunities throughout their careers at GHF.

From the moment a new trainer is hired, they hit the ground learning. In their first two weeks as a GHF personal trainer they spend over 50 hours learning from our top trainers, physical therapists and other departments in the gym. Subjects cover topics such as movement-based anatomy, customer service, basic nutrition, sales training, facilities orientation and everything in between. After all that, they are assigned one of our top trainers as a mentor to guide them along their way.

Why spend so much time and money on new trainers? You come out with a uniformly educated and qualified trainer that not only knows what they know, but they also know what they don’t know. They also learn what is outside of their scope of practice. We are not sports coaches, physical therapists or massage therapists, and that is important to remember in an industry that can encourage a personal trainer to be all of those things. A little initial investment in education is a whole lot cheaper than a seven-figure lawsuit over a trainer giving nutritional advice to someone with Type-1 Diabetes or an injury due to prescribing exercises that are well outside the coaching capability of the trainer.

After they have completed over 700 hours of personal training, we then offer our Advanced Level II classes that qualifies them for a promotion to the next rung in the training ladder. Our top trainers teach classes such as advanced flexibility strategies, nutritional science, prevention of athletic injury, among many more. The eight-week coursework, that is equivalent to the same amount of in-class time as a college semester, is followed by a test. When passed, they are given a promotion and new opportunities in leadership are opened.

When over 2,100 hours of training hours are completed, we have our Master Level Class. In this 12-week course they are taught advanced concepts regarding biomechanics, program design, leadership, assessment techniques, myofascial release techniques and hours of other presentations and lectures. They have to then give a presentation in front of their peers, to ready them for speaking engagements, pass a practical examination as well as a written examination. After passing the class they are promoted to master trainer and are given ownership of the education of their peers and future trainers.

By creating a culture of continuous and never-ending education we have trainers that have given presentations at international, national, regional and state level conferences. We even have current and former trainers that sit on advisory and education/test-writing boards for national certification associations. The culture that we have created in-house has given us the ability to help shape the personal training department, as well as the industry itself.

Better educated trainers get better results, better results attract more clients, more clients creates better revenue, better revenue keeps trainers around, so that they can, in turn, educate the next generation of trainers. That starts the cycle all over again and it is a beautiful thing. Educating employees is not a cost, but rather an investment into the success and future of the company as a whole.

Matt Mallard

Matt Mallard is a master level trainer at Gainesville Health and Fitness and Director of GHFs CrossFit Program. His specialties include strength training, powerlifting, lean mass gain, fat loss, athlete development, knee and low back pain rehabilitation.

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  1. Michelle Blakely September 3, 2016

    Excellent article. Glad the hear of the work you are doing and commitment to your trainers!

  2. Kevin D. Steele, Ph.D September 17, 2016

    Well said. Two great sources of high quality, credible education for Personal Trainers and other Fitness Professionals is PTontheNet.com and PTAGlobal. All members deserve well educated professionals working with them.


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