Fitness, Health, and Business Blog

Posted on

Should Personal Trainers Give Diet Advice?

Most clients come to us with the same goal:  To Lose Weight!  In pursuit of that goal, we try to help them make healthy lifestyle choices and make physical activity and exercise a part of their daily lives.  But how can we help them meet their goals without talking about Nutrition?  And how can we talk about diet and nutrition without exceeding our scope of practice?

March is National Nutrition Month so I thought it would be a good time to discuss these controversial issues.

In our Nutritional Concepts, Personal Training Certification, and Lifestyle Fitness Coaching classes, we clearly communicate that prescribing diets for our clients is beyond our scope of practice. Unless a personal trainer is also a Registered Dietician, a Registered Dietician Nutritionist, or hold a valid credential, they should not be prescribing a special diet for a client.  But what about providing advice, guidance, and education?  Would you be neglecting your responsibilities and duties to your client if you didn’t try to steer them in the right direction.

When I look around at the people closest to me, I see one person who makes all of the wrong (unhealthy) food choices; another who has gone strictly vegan (their version of vegan) and admittedly includes no healthy protein choices in their diet;  another who skips meals regularly and ends her day tired and famished.  Others watch and limit sugars only—another only eats “organic” and another had recently decided to eliminate carbs–but ingests high fat meats.

None of this seems healthy to me—  What do you think?

As a personal trainer, what do you believe appropriate for you to address when it comes to your client’s nutritional habits?   Where do you believe the “scope of practice” line should be drawn?

And another question, how good are YOUR eating habits?  Take this quick quiz!


I look forward to hearing your thoughts!




Posted on

Preventing Heart Disease and Working with Those at Risk

I wanted to spend some more time this month promoting American Heart Month and focusing on the impact we can make as fitness professionals, in the prevention of heart disease.

In November 2013, the American Heart Association released knew guidelines for the prevention of heart disease, which focuses on many of the conditions that are covered in W.I.T.S. Exercise Program Design for Special Populations.    Specifically, the guidelines address Cholesterol, Lifestyle, Obesity, and Risk Assessment.  It is so clear that we can help reduce the prevalence of heart disease—everything that we do as fitness professionals can make an impact.

I’d encourage everyone to read the complete guidelines at  and share this information with your clients—

If we just focus on one factor—lifestyle— the guidelines are  pretty clear and direct:

  • Get 40 minutes of exercise 3 – 4 days a week
  • Eat fruits and vegetables
  • Reduce sodium

Pretty simple stuff!  I think that most people fear that they will have to make HUGE changes and become overwhelmed. I strongly believe that we have a responsibility as fitness professionals to help educate those around us (clients, family, peers, co-workers)  that it’s the little things that they can do to make BIG changes.

How do you work “education” into your training sessions?  Do you use different coaching strategies?  What do you find works best for helping people make positive change in their lives?


If you want to learn more about heart disease prevention and the AHA guidelines, visit and consider enrolling in W.I.T.S. Exercise Program Design for Special Populations course.  We are running great 2 for 1 discounts this month on many of our continuing education classes!  Take an online course at a time and place that is convenient for you—receive substantial discounts on approved CEC courses!



Posted on

American Heart Month! Group Exercise—Is It Safe?

February is American Heart Month and it’s almost impossible to think about heart health without thinking about exercise.  No one can question the role of exercise in preventing many heart conditions and improving heart health.  The American Heart Association states that “the simplest, positive change you can make to effectively improve your heart health is to start walking.” While genetics play a role, there are so many factors and conditions that can be controlled.

A recent conversation with a newly retired friend prompted me to think less about the role of exercise in preventing heart disease, but more about the role of exercise in improving health and slowing the progression, once a person has been diagnosed.

After a few health scares, my friend has decided to make some lifestyle choices.  He is obese, sedentary, has high blood pressure, high cholesterol and at high risk for heart attack and stroke.  He has a family history of heart disease and has already been diagnosed with COPD.

He hired a personal trainer at a local club and has begun a routine of resistance training three times a week.  The exercise prescription he shared seemed sound and sensible and based on extensive assessments.  What I was more concerned about was that to incorporate cardiovascular exercise, the trainer recommended my friend take 2 group exercise classes per week.  He didn’t get any guidance as to which classes would be safest and most appropriate, but was told to “find something he enjoyed.”

My friend seemed to select classes that had great instructors who monitored the participants and their intensity.  So far, so good, and he’s having a blast.  I started thinking about how challenging it must be to monitor an entire class, keeping everyone safe, in a group exercise environment.

I’d love to hear from all of you— what are your thoughts about such a “high risk” person attending group exercise classes?   What are some tips and tricks group exercise instructors can do to keep everyone safe—especially in a large class.  I’ve attended classes that I found to be potentially dangerous and needed to monitor my own intensity and modify moves.  But how does a beginning exerciser know how to do this?

I look forward to hearing your thoughts.


And FYI—W.I.T.S. is running a fabulous special this month on our online group exercise continuing education courses.  Call and ask about the February promotions and special discounts!   Great membership discounts as well!  888-330-9487


Posted on

How To Get Started: Selecting a Personal Trainer

In a recent conversation with my sister, I learned that she was one of the many whose New Year’s Resolution involved losing weight and going to the gym.  To help her keep this resolution, she decided to hire a personal trainer. She made her selection based on two criteria:  1) she saw this person in the gym regularly  and 2) he looked like he was in good shape.

When I asked her about his training and certification, she had no idea.  Her response to me was, “How am I supposed to know?  I assume the gym wouldn’t allow him to train there if he wasn’t qualified!” 

I think my sisters assumptions and response are all too common.  How does the average consumer know what makes a “qualified”, “competent” trainer? Even if they are “certified”, in a self-regulated industry, are all certifications equal?   Is certification enough to distinguish someone as qualified and competent? 

So I sent my sister back to ask her trainer the following questions:

1.  Is he certified?  If so, what did his certification require?  What other education and training does he have?  Is his certification current and what type of continuing education has he taken to maintain his certification?

2.   How long has he been training clients?  (AND CHECK REFERENCES FOR CURRENT AND PREVIOUS CLIENTS)

3.   What is his experience working with clients that may have her specific health conditions (i.e. 49 year old female, high blood pressure and cholesterol, family history of heart disease, relatively sedentary lifestyle.)

4.  What is his training plan and approach for HER?  What are their goals for her progress?  How does he use assessments to track her fitness?

5.  Is he certified in CPR and AED?

So, I’m still waiting for the responses, but now I’m wondering if this is enough information to gather to help her make a decision.

What other criteria should she check to make sure this individual is qualified to provide safe and effective personal training? 

How would you feel if a client or a potential client asked for this information?

If it were your sister, mother, spouse, child— what questions would you ask? 

I really look forward to your input!  If we, as fitness professionals, can’t distinguish a “qualified and competent” personal trainer from the rest, how can we expect consumers to do so?

I look forward to hearing from you!

To learn about W.I.T.S. fitness certifications and special offers for continuing education and our online Fitness Business Institute, please visit




Posted on

Happy New Year! Helping Clients Keep Those Resolutions!

I hope all of you enjoyed a happy and healthy holiday season and are enjoying the start of 2014.  As we know, this is the busiest time of year for fitness professionals!  New and returning clients come to us with their New Year’s Resolutions and need our help more than ever! 

A recent article in the Journal of Clinical Psychology reported some interesting statistics regarding New Year’s Resolutions!

  • The #1 Resolution for 2014 was to lose weight.
  • The #4 Resolution for 2014 was to live life to it’s fullest.
  • The #5 Resolution for 2014 was to stay fit and healthy.
  • The # 7 Resolution for 2014 was to quit smoking.

So, 4 of the top 10 most common resolutions are directly related to what we do as fitness professionals.  However, as we know, making resolutions is not the same as successfully achieving our goals.  In fact, the same article reports the following:


How frustrating, but what a great opportunity for Personal Trainers and Lifestyle Fitness Coaches who can help individuals make the desired changes to achieve those goals.  In my opinion, an understanding of psychology, motivation and behavior changes is what separates the “good” PTs from the FABULOUSLY SUCCESSFUL ones. 

So, at this important time of year, as we are refocusing, setting our own goals for the year and helping others make positive behavior change to meet their goals, lets share some of our BEST Ideas for working with clients.  What are some of your most successful strategies for helping clients who are struggling to adopt and maintain a healthy, active lifestyle?

If you are interested in expanding your Personal Training business to include Lifestyle Fitness Coaching, consider taking our NEW online certification course.  It is self-paced and accessible 24 /7.  You will receive mentoring from our most successful faculty members and fitness professionals.  Earn this prestigious certification AND 11 CECs for your PT certification renewal!

Learn more about the Lifestyle Fitness Coaching Certification course by watching this short video: LFC 00 PROMO.wvx


Posted on

Use Your Social Media Time and Resources Wisely!

Last blog post we shared some tips on using social media to market your business in a more effective and efficient way.

Using Hoot Suite to plan and schedule your posts was one of the most popular ideas!  What an amazing time saver!  I have found that with Hoot Suite (which is free and really easy to use), I can set aside an hour or two every other sunday and schedule everything that will be posted for the next two weeks!  Of course, if something comes up, I can always add to the posts and schedule!! 

For this post I want to focus a bit more on Facebook and using Facebook for our social media marketing strategy. Most of us are using Facebook for personal reasons–connecting with friends,  But we also know that Facebook is really effective for connecting with customers. Having said that, there are things to keep in mind to make sure you’re engaging your “friends”, increasing “likes”, keeping current, and ultimately, converting Facebook friends and followers to paying customers. 

We put together a short video clip from our Facebook Marketing class to best explain how to use Facebook more effectively for your marketing.  Please watch and let us know what you think!! Facebook EdgeRank.wvx

Also, as the year is winding down and you are looking for new continuing education classes, plan to take advantage of our January promotions!

20% off any item in the store for Jan.  promo code WITS20. 

And  $100 off of our new Lifestyle Fitness Coaching Online Certification


Posted on

Are You Tweeting, Posting, Following, and Friending?

My involvement in social media has snuck up on me!  Sure, I used Facebook to reconnect with old friends and become more connected and involved in the lives of my friends and family.  But in the past year, I’ve found myself using social media for business purposes.  I’m blogging, tweeting, following, friending, tagging, and all sorts of other things that I never expected to be doing!  In the beginning, it felt overwhelming, but I’ve learned a few things that have made it more manageable that I thought I’d share.  I’m hoping that you will share your tips too!

 1.         Be strategic about what you share and where.  It is tempting to want to send everything everywhere.  But it may not be the best approach.  Figure out where your audience “hangs-out” in the social media world and go where they are with the messages that will interest them.

 2.         Separate your personal social media communications from your personal ones.  There’s nothing wrong with letting your business audience get to know you on a personal level, but they don’t need to see pictures of you and your friends celebrating on a Friday night or be privy to your personal information and activities, or your friends’ activities—which you can’t control.

 3.         Work smart and not hard.  There are free, scheduling tools like Hoot Suite that will allow you to schedule all of your twitter and facebook posts ahead of time so you can be more efficient with your time and resources.

 4.         Keep the “end” in mind!  What do you want to accomplish with your social media efforts?  More clients?  More revenue?  Stronger relationships with current clients?  If you don’t know where you are going, you won’t know how to get there—nor will you know when you’ve arrived!  So set goals and monitor progress!

 5.         Educate yourself!  I’ve spent the last few months taking classes, participating in webinars, and following what my competitors are doing with their social media!  There’s a lot to learn—but like anything else— it takes time, study, and practice! 

To learn more about social media and how to use the different approaches more effectively to increase business, check out W.I.T.S. new classes in Facebook Marketing, Twitter, Internet Marketing, and You Tube!  They are all customized for fitness industry professionals and mentored by successful, established professionals in the field! 



Posted on

Personal Training and Clients with Diabetes

We are in the middle of Diabetes Month and I thought I’d continue with the theme and reach out to you for input.  Many of you responded to the last post about Diabetes and suggested that you work with clients who struggle with this disease.  I hope you’ll share your expertise with us so we can better support our students and new professionals. 

The following case study is based on a real client and comes from our Exercise Program Design for Special Populations online course.  How would you respond to this scenario?

Jane is 50 years old and was diagnosed with Type 2 diabetes 5 years ago. Jane is 5’2” and weighs 180 lbs. She is currently taking an oral medication (troglitazone) for her diabetes and an antihypertensive medication (beta blocker) for her stage 1 high blood pressure, and does not monitor her blood glucose. Jane reports that her health is OK. She does not suffer from complications, but gets easily fatigued doing housework and cleaning. Furthermore, she reports that taking a stroll with her husband at the local mall makes her knees and hips uncomfortable after about 15 to 25 minutes. She has not seen her doctor in over a year; however, her diabetes educator has encouraged her to participate in regular physical activity. She has asked you to assist in the development of an activity regime. Her goals are to improve her endurance and lose about 45 lbs.

We will gather your responses to share with our students.  Help us help our students!  I look forward to hearing from you! 


If you want to learn more about exercise program design for individuals with diabetes, please check out our online course, Exercise Program Design for Special Populations.   We have a section completely dedicated to Diabetes.  Also, our Personal Trainer Certification and Older Adult Exercise Specialist Certification touch on the importance of safe and effective exercise to prevent and slow down this disease. 

For more information about Diabetes and American Diabetes Month, please visit

Posted on

November is American Diabetes Month!

Yesterday was Halloween, and although I don’t want to be a “party pooper” and understand how much fun the holiday can be— I have to say, seeing so many children walking around with bags of candy—who also appear to be moderately or morbidly obese was disheartening.   Ironically, today, the day after Halloween, starts the beginning of American Diabetes Month. So, I’d like to focus today’s blog on diabetes, and more importantly, how we can prevent or slow down the disease with physical activity.

Diabetes complications can be prevented or delayed by properly managing blood glucose, blood pressure and cholesterol levels.  Eating healthy, being physically active and quitting smoking also can help lower the risk of diabetes complications.


  • Nearly 26 million children and adults in the United States have diabetes.
  • Another 79 million Americans have prediabetes and are at risk for developing type 2 diabetes.
  • Recent estimates project that as many as one in three American adults will have diabetes in 2050 unless we take steps to Stop Diabetes.

The Toll on Health

  • Two out of three people with diabetes die from heart disease or stroke.
  • Diabetes is the leading cause of kidney failure and of new cases of blindness among adults.
  • The rate of amputation for people with diabetes is 10 times higher than for people without diabetes.
  • About 60-70 percent of people with diabetes have mild to severe forms of nerve damage that could result in pain in the feet or hands, slowed digestion, sexual dysfunction and other nerve problems.  

How Can Physical Activity Help?

  • Keep blood glucose, blood pressure, HDL cholesterol and triglycerides on target
  • Lowers risk for pre-diabetes, type 2 diabetes, heart disease and stroke
  • Relieves stress, strengthens your heart, muscles and bones
  • Improves your blood circulation and tones your muscles
  • Keeps your body and your joints flexible

 I’m curious to know how many of our Personal Trainers are working with clients who have diabetes or prediabetes?  Please share your experiences and success stories so we can all learn from you.   I think we all have a responsibility to do what we can to reduce the prevalence of this serious disease. Please share! 

If you want to learn more about exercise program design for individuals with diabetes, please check out our online course, Exercise Program Design for Special Populations.   We have a section completely dedicated to Diabetes.  Also, our Personal Trainer Certification and Older Adult Exercise Specialist Certification touch on the importance of safe and effective exercise to prevent and slow down this disease. 

For more information about Diabetes and American Diabetes Month, please visit




Posted on

Don’t Miss Out—Less than a week away!

Are You Attending Club Industry In Chicago this week?  Let me know and we’ll get together!   Following are some great opportunities for you to participate in while attending this event!

We have a special discount code just for W.I.T.S. friends and colleagues! Just follow the link below and when you register, use the promo code SAVE25, which provides a $125 discount on the full conference pass.
Club Industry Convention, McCormick Place, Chicago, IL October 23 -24, 2013CI13_BoxOfficeListing_200x280
While at the event, you’ll want to check out the “Business Program for Personal Trainers.” You’ll learn from the experts the secrets of sales, marketing and social media to insure your success as a business person!
Club Industry, Business Program for Personal Trainers, October 23, 2013
And while you are at the Club Industry Convention, we have a “MUST DO” event for those interested in the future of the fitness industry!
3rd Annual Personal Trainer Summit
Thursday, October 24, 2:00pm
Location: Room E351
Open invitation to all employers, trainers, educators and certification organizations. Why a meeting? We need to solidify and establish an industry wide image and policy to help support and direct our professional services. Much has been written about what “we” have come up with to meet legislative initiatives or to help obese children etc. Now you actually have a voice and a forum to formalize and legitimize our profession.
Let me know if you’ll be there! I’d love to meet you!