Why Certification Matters and Red Flags for Health Consumers

As most of you likely know by now, I have become a PRO TRAINER for canfitpro. I’m quite proud of this as it was a huge amount of work as well as a very large investment. I take so much pride in what I do as a trainer. Especially when it comes to providing safe, effective workouts for my clients.

We have quite a unique situation here in the Kootenay’s. We are in need of Personal Training Specialists. This isn’t the case in the large centres, where there is an abundance of certification course offerings. I have so many contacts locally who are all crying for trainers. So, yay me! I see an opportunity, and I go after it! I’m going to train trainers! I love what I do and I want to share it!

Ok, well lets face it. Pretty much anyone can take a personal training course and get certified. With some studying and practical application, you can do it. Hell, I mentored someone who had never set foot in a gym as they had found a passion for fitness working out in their basement and now wanted to help people change their lives. If you think I’m kidding – I’m not. Unfortunately, this is a true story. This person went on to pass their theory and practical exam and was now ready to become a trainer. They were ready to take people’s bodies and get them into their best health. I hope you can hear the tone of my voice while reading this.

The fitness industry sucks. You see, there are people like myself who take their positions very seriously. I took my certification course, I wrote my theory exam, which I will brag that I got 96% on and then I went on to pass the practical exam with flying colours. I worked hard, studied hard, but my learning didn’t start when my course started. I was always reading and researching all things fitness, long before I became a trainer.  I had been a dancer until I graduated high school and then became an aerobics junkie during university because it was the closest thing I could find to dance.Think old school step class with some of the hardest choreography! I’m definitely dating myself.

My education didn’t end after my certification either. I do not remember the last time I read a book simply for pleasure. I fall asleep after reading some sort of book on fitness, nutrition, mental health, etc. I have built a very strong network right across the country and I continue to build. I am constantly asking questions. I am always curious. I can never ever get enough.

I don’t have a human kinetics degree or a phys-ed degree or a kinesiology degree. Just recently when advertising my new course offering, I received the response from a gym owner that they only hire registered kinesiologists. Wow… lucky for them! I can’t imagine what their rates are like. But, I’d like to quiz some of those kinesiologists on their anatomy that they likely took in first or second year of university [wink wink].

What I do have is a marketing research degree. That degree and my prior jobs have allowed me to build a very successful personal training business. An inquisitive mind can be a blessing and a curse. I am always researching “what’s out there” knowing that the fitness industry, especially since the emergence of social media provides a plethora of crazy shit to the general masses.

Shortly after I became a personal trainer, I also started noticing the myriad of different fitness companies that had their own certifications. This really confused me… So, I could essentially – with some really great ideas and knowledge and savvy business skills – put together my own certification program and sign people up online and charge them whatever amount of money I wanted and “x” number of months later they could call themselves [insert fancy title here]. Hmmm…

The fitness industry is completely unregulated. Actually, let me call it the “health” and fitness industry. A few years ago, I wanted to pursue some sort of nutrition training. Something that I also have a huge passion for. Again, completely unregulated – BUT – because I am an ethically and morally responsible person and abide by MY personal trainer code of ethics – WHICH includes not to provide nutritional programming other than basic nutritional advice for clients, I wanted something that would allow me to provide that service to clients. I spent HOURS researching which program to enrol in. My PRO TRAINER had a Holistic Nutrition Diploma for which she spent three years studying and a huge financial investment along with it, only to have the Alberta government strip her of her rights to use those letters behind her name. A retaliation of sorts from the registered dieticians who were frustrated by the same thing. No regulation. I understand, although unfortunate because I believe this program in particular is highly accredited. But, I just wasn’t willing to invest in three years and thousands of dollars. After deciding upon which program to take, I went with Precision Nutrition, which I am still happy with. It was very science based and mostly in-line with my own nutritional beliefs.

Doctors, accountants, nurses, physiotherapists, massage therapists, mechanics and financial planners all have colleges, associations and regulatory bodies that they must belong to that set standards and continuing education. Consumers have no protection within the health and fitness industry to guarantee that the person they hire to entrust their bodies with is competent in what they do. Oh, yeah – I’m certified. I got my certification online through [insert one of 800 online options]. Oh you tore your ACL last year – no problem, oh you have an artificial shoulder? Oh you have rheumatoid arthritis, a herniated disk, diabetes, high blood pressure – sure I know how to handle all that! I will fix you right up in no time – ok – start off with 800 jumping jacks, 500 power squats and oh – let me also sell you this shake.

Ok – you get my point. I’m feeling a little feisty today. Yes, there are other certification bodies than canfitpro that are very well accredited and recognized. NASM, ACE, BCRPA (as well as other provincial certs) are all very reputable. What I love about canfitpro is that it is nationally recognized. I attend their conferences, I receive newsletters with the latest trends and research. I’m required to update my knowledge and CPR on a yearly basis and it comes with a network of highly supportive teammates. Just yesterday I had a teleconference with another PRO TRAINER in Halifax who has been working in the fitness industry since 1986. She was so supportive, positive and excited to help me! I am so fortunate to be a part of a professional organization that lifts each other up and SHARES knowledge and support. Its a highly competitive industry, so to have others who are willing to mentor you [insert at NO CHARGE or MLM fee], is an amazing feeling. I get to interact and talk to REAL people, I get to go do conferences with REAL PEOPLE, I get to talk to so many highly energetic people face to face with the same passion for helping people that I have. Not online, in person. We need so much more of that.

Please do your research. When you are about to entrust your one and only body to someone – make sure they know their shit.


~xo Olivia


Stages of Behaviour Change…

Have you ever heard of the Transtheoretical Model of Behaviour Change? Its something that personal trainers refer to when assessing where our clients are at with their commitment to their fitness regimes. The interesting thing is that we can even place people in this model before we even meet them! Sounds like we are slapping a label on clients – but its not – its actually a really useful tool for us to support you in where you are at on this continuum of behaviour change.

This model isn’t used only in personal training! Its used in almost every aspect of behaviour. Maybe you’re looking to start a new career or embark on some new education – basically anything that may require some sort of commitment (commitment you might not even know about yet!).

I wanted to talk a bit about this model because I thought it might be interesting for you to know from my perspective that I understand and may be able to help you – before you even realize you need the support!

I get a TON – a TON of Facebook messages, emails, texts and the odd phone call – those ones always throw me off guard now a day – lol! People message me and it usually looks like this:

“Hi Olivia, I’m wondering if you can tell me more about, [insert training, nutrition coaching, life coaching].” Its a pretty broad question for me at first because I’m not sure how this person has found me. Maybe they’ve been referred, maybe a website search, maybe Facebook or Instagram. So I often will lead them to my website, which has quite a bit of information and ask them if they have any more specific questions, what their background or experience is (in terms of training), what other programs they’ve done (in terms of nutrition) etc.

Sometimes there is a lot of back and forth and I’m almost certain I’ll have a new client, which for me is always really exciting. However, sometimes and I will admit, more often than not, they are not ready to commit. This can be for several reasons. I’m quite fortunate that I have a degree in marketing and I’ve had all sorts of experience with how to close a sale. However, when it comes to people, I have never once looked at a personal training client or a nutrition client as closing a sale. In that respect, I kind of suck because we are taught a lot about how to close a sale as a trainer. I find that I’m quite soft when it comes to this industry. First and foremost because its a very vulnerable thing. Sometimes people don’t realize how vulnerable until they start. Second of all, its a big investment. One that I wholeheartedly believe is worth every single penny, but I completely empathize with the fact that personal training and nutrition coaching are only going to happen when all the bills have been paid, kids’ activities and supplies have been shelled out and there is food in the fridge and gas in the car. Life is expensive, I get it. Having extra funds to pursue training and nutrition is usually way down on the budget items. I take that fact very seriously and if someone does sign up with me – I ensure that their investment is returned in full.

So here is a little diagram that will show you this model I am talking about:

At the top – we have Pre-Contemplation. These are the folks that aren’t even thinking about a trainer or nutrition coach. They might not know that such a service exists or that it is something that could even be accessible to them. Sometimes these people have their interest tweaked by a family member who may be concerned about their parents’ or partner’s health or maybe has a friend with a bad knee who suggests that maybe they should think about getting a trainer to assist them.

Contemplation – this is the stage where I spend all that time messaging back and forth with clients. When I first started out as a trainer, I used to get super frustrated that I couldn’t convince these people to come work with me. Now, as I said above, I am very respectful of the fact that this is a very vulnerable thing and a big investment. Some people may just not be ready to jump in. I tend to be a bit impulsive and jump in with both feet with whatever I do. Something a bit of age and wisdom has taught be to slow down a bit with! lol! So I treat these messages as a part of my job. Something to have compassion about and to respect people’s need to make this decision.

Action – this is when I’m actually working with clients. My favourite part. I love working with clients. I learn so much from each single person I work with. Whether its different health issues that I have to research in order to know what a person is dealing with, mental health issues, previous injuries, current injuries, getting ready to run a mud-run or obstacle course, maybe a first 5K – this is where the action is at!

Maintenance – ok – I lied – THIS is my favourite. This should be the goal of EVERY SINGLE TRAINER!!! There is NO better career satisfaction than to have trained/coached a client and to have them go off on their own and continue with their commitment to their health. To see that their investment has completely paid off. They know that they need to exercise and eat right in order to live their fullest life. If you have had a trainer that isn’t encouraging you to let their reigns free from you and help you get away from you (lol!) – but not kidding – then that trainer is likely in it for the money and not for the love or passion of what they are doing.

Relapse – no no no!!! But yes, yes, yes… Oh, unfortunately this is my least favourite. Especially when I’ve worked with a client for a long time. I get to know them and their life. A lot of times, at least in my experience, this comes with women (and men too) that put themselves last. Their family, their work, their whatever keeps getting pushed in front of their own needs. This one is the one that makes me bang my head (literally) on the wall. I see so many amazing people who have the hugest hearts and are so smart and giving and awesome who train with me and I think I have them all set and ready to go into maintenance… and then… it happens… they fall off the wagon. For a long time I took this quite personally. How dare they not listen to me!? lol! But you know what? I can only assist and support – I can’t do it for them. My only hope is that these people sometimes hear my little (evil) voice nagging them to get moving or drink their water or get their protein in! Maybe one day they will come back to me to get back on that wagon… but this is life – real life. It happens – I get it.

Ok – so a post that is a bit out of the ordinary – but something that might help explain how a trainer/coach sees our clients from a more “technical” standpoint. But also so you can see that we get it – no matter what stage of change you’re in – and we can help and support you no matter where you’re at!  When you’re ready – I’m here!