Professional fitness instructor says this field is about more than just muscles
As the Professional Fitness Trainer Program Director at Branford Hall’s Windsor campus, Susan Gouin has seen a lot of people enter the field of fitness training. While many new students are passionate about their chosen course of study, and Gouin seeks to nurture that, she also often has to dispel some myths.
“People often don’t realize how much is involved in this field,” says Gouin. “Fitness isn’t just about being in the gym. If you can provide those other pieces of the puzzle, you can be a better asset to your clients.”
With that in mind, here are three myths people entering professional fitness programs may need to reconsider.
Myth #1: It’s all about the muscles
Branford’s fitness training courses attracts students of all ages (from about 20 through the 50s), and in a variety of shapes, sizes, and levels of fitness. But it’s often those who have focused heavily on body building who may have the strongest preconceived notions when they walk in the door.
“We had one student who looked like he was in pretty good shape when he started the program,” says Gouin. “But he was into heavy weights to build muscle and that was it. He didn’t do any stretching.”
Once entering the professional fitness trainer program, the student quickly learned how some of his gym practices could lead to injuries. Finding out how to create a more balanced program also allowed the student to see that fitness training has benefits far beyond sculpting one’s physique.
“This student’s father had a heart attack,” Gouin recounts. “That inspired him to do a project that involved strength training for people who have physical issues. He devised a way that they could gain muscle without lifting heavy weights. Toward the end of his program, he came in and did a seminar with the class. It was great to see how his perspective had evolved.”
Myth #2: It’s all about the gym
Personal fitness trainer students at Windsor get a membership to Gold’s gym when they enroll. Because the facility is located right across the parking lot, it acts as a “lab” of sorts, allowing the students to learn and refine their techniques on the latest equipment. (Students who take the program at the Branford and Southington locations have similar access to gym facilities.)
However, not every aspect of training to be a fitness professional involves working up a sweat.
“A lot of incoming students aren’t aware of how nutrition affects fitness,” says Gouin. “We have a registered dietician here who teaches our nutrition classes. It’s a real eye opener for some students.
“We also sometimes see people who are confused about supplements,” she adds. “So we talk about how there’s a code of ethics related to supplements and working with clients, because many of those products are not regulated. Often, as they learn more, the students will stop their own supplements and develop a program where they don’t need them.”
Branford Hall’s program also takes into account that for many professional fitness trainers, entrepreneurial skills will be necessary to build a successful business. A look at the sample courses reveals a roster that includes classes in business and sales.
Myth #3: Personal fitness is only for athletes
“A lot of new students aren’t aware that functional fitness has a whole realm of other opportunities that can be explored,” says Gouin.
Personal fitness training offers students to work in a variety of niches. For example, some students may want to focus on cardiac rehabilitation. Others may want to specialize in working with people who have mobility limitations.
“I’ve had body builders come in and develop true empathy to work with people who have limitations,” says Gouin. “You never know where students will decide to focus.”