In Coaching, Legal

July 18, 2014

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Lon Kilgore advises fitness professionals to work only within the scope of practice dictated by their education.

A professional fitness practitioner is hired to improve fitness levels in trainees or to help them make progress toward some other goal, such as losing weight, gaining weight, improving some aspect of performance, etc. What is important is that the professional must be capable of delivering sound, fact-based training to improve physical function while at the same time safeguarding the health of the trainees during their time under supervision.

Note that nowhere in the above description of what a professional fitness practitioner does is there a requirement to be able to diagnose any disease—bacterial, metabolic, nutritional, orthopedic or otherwise. At no point in a fitness professional’s education does he or she receive adequate training in diagnosis of disease or orthopedic dysfunction/abnormality.

It is prudent for fitness professionals to ensure their scope of practice does not intrude into disciplines or professional activities outside those for which they are demonstrably prepared. The best advice is to shape your practice to reflect your expertise and training.

To avoid problems, deal with “healthy” populations and create fitness in clients through intelligent teaching and programming of exercise. Perform pre-participation screenings to identify individuals who may be diseased or have orthopedic problems that may require medical support in areas where you are untrained. And do not be afraid to refer questions and clients to others who are appropriately trained in diagnosing and managing diseases or orthopedic problems.

All fitness professionals should be focused on what their job title implies: making people fit. Adding in activities for which they are not appropriately, adequately or legally prepared dilutes the effectiveness of service to the clients on whom they depend for income.

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