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Your Trainers Aren’t Medical Professionals, and Shouldn’t Act as Such

trainers should be referring to medical professionals in some cases

Trainers really seek to be the solutions to all of the problems that their clients have. We want to help our clients achieve their goals, so we want to provide all the answers for clients. We suggest dietary habits, proper recovery cycles and even self myofascial release techniques for overly tight muscles.

Personal trainers have a large amount of information at their fingertips. We can get information about nutrition, lifestyle meeting modification, injury recovery, and many other specialized areas.

But do we have the experience, knowledge and credentials to be the expert in that area or coach them in an area that we have no certification? I know many trainers writing diets for clients that have no nutritional certification or worse yet, they are prescribing fad diets to clients with pre-existing diseases. I have seen trainers diagnosis an orthopedic problem with no referral to a medical professional.

In these instances, trainers really need to be cautious, especially in the diagnosing of illnesses or potential orthopedic conditions. Trainers should refer to medical professionals when it comes to these specific questions and when it comes to dealing with known medical issues or constant concerns that plague the client.

When a client tells their trainer that they have an issue, instead of trying to handle the situation on their own, the trainer should instead refer them to a licensed professional in that field. Working in conjunction with a licensed professional not only demonstrates a high level of maturity and professionalism, it will most likely solve the client’s issue sooner.

Working with professionals in other areas also creates a referral network of specialists that can help your clients — and hopefully, those professionals will refer their clients to you as well. Having this type of synergistic relationship with other practitioners is a great business strategy.

Referring to others is not a sign of weakness or lack of intelligence; it is a sign of a trainer that seeks to do the best job for their clients in a safe and effective manner. Believe me that your clients will find value in you doing this and see you as their source for information.


Vic Spatola is a NASM CPT, CES and PES. He is a senior trainer and martial arts manager at Greenwood Athletic and Tennis Club in Denver, Colorado and has over 20 years in fitness management.

Vic Spatola

Vic Spatola is the director of personal training at Greenwood Athletic and Tennis Club. He also does personal training business consulting. Contact him at: v4victoryconsult@gmail.com.

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1 Comment

  1. Andrew Graham May 29, 2018

    GREAT article Vic! knowing when to refer to a medical professional is a definite sign of confidence and maturity in a trainer. If our industry wants to be taken seriously as being an integral part of the healthcare continuum, I do hope your readers will strive to develop a referral network of physical therapists, dietitians, orthopedic docs, etc. Awesome advice, thank you!


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