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ISSA Talk, Episode 3: DNA-Based Fitness Coach

Reading Time: 11 minutes 13 seconds

Edited for clarity.

Erin Mahoney:

Welcome to ISSA Talk, a series of webinars designed to give you the education and the tools to take your fitness education and coaching career virtual. All of these how-to’s and the discussions that we have are things that you can start learning about or doing today to help your clients navigate through this global pandemic and make sure that people are still living happy and healthy lives.

Today we're going to talk about a new service offering that you can provide your clients. And what's great about this is it will be a key differentiator for you. It will be something new that your clients haven't seen, something new that other trainers aren't really providing yet, because it's the wave of the future, and it's not just because of the situation that we're in, which is great news, we were headed there anyways. So, let's get started.

All right. What is this new service offering that I'm talking about? What is the wave of the future? Here it is. Today we're going to be talking about DNA-based program design for both personal training and nutrition coaching. Like I said, this service offering wasn't born out of the crisis that we're in right now. Instead, it was already making momentum towards the end of 2019.

I'm your host, representing ISSA, Erin Mahoney. All right, I'm going to back up a little bit here. So, I said that this started gaining traction in 2019. And what I meant by that was, in December of 2019, ISSA launched the industry's first ever certification in DNA-Based Fitness Coaching and Program Design. And really what I'm here to talk about today is how that fits into the practice and how you can use that with your clients and why it's so valuable.

Trust, Commitment, and Compliance

And the first thing to point out is, when we become personal trainers, we realize that one of the biggest challenges that we face is gaining the trust of our clients. And yes, that comes over time. But with trust then comes commitment, and we really want them to be committed very early on. And if you don't have that trust, the job of being a personal trainer is much, much more challenging.

With the help of DNA testing, what that allows you to do with your clients is you can piece together why maybe they've struggled in the past, and the things that may have impacted them historically can also thread through to what can they be doing now and today in the future to help them out. DNA testing is undeniable and it's scientifically based.

When we have this type of knowledge and this type of data, we're giving clients the code to unlock that trust, and studies out there are showing over and over again, that when clients trust their professional, they're more likely to be committed to the recommendations that they provide. With greater commitment course, comes greater compliance and greater compliance becomes results. And of course, that cycle continues.

When we think about sometimes why a client is or is not accomplishing their goals, the question is often, or the assumption is it could be all about compliance. And if we know that our clients are going to trust us a little bit more and follow our direction, then we want to do everything in our power to gain their compliance. And then from there taking it a step further, we want to do everything in our power to make their program as personalized as possible.

And all of that is why we brought this to the industry to help trainers offer something unique to their clients, to help them get the results. All right, now we're saying, why would you use DNA testing? Because everyone's going to adapt and respond and DNA it doesn't predict the future. And it's important that we remember that. DNA testing is not going to tell you whether your clients will achieve their goals or not. Instead, it's going to tell you things like let's look at things that aren't acquired over time.

For example, different assessments that you're probably very familiar with, like the one rep max test or an overhead squat assessment and even blood pressure. They're all indications of issues that have taken in some case years to acquire. And when basing programs on factors that predate those assessment findings, you're basing your programs on constant variables.

So, what we're saying is, with DNA testing, we're not assessing, the damage that you've done throughout your time here. Instead we're saying, what were the cards that you're dealt with that we can't argue against? And then next stop, which is just as important is its objective and undeniable information. Sometimes there is some conversation around when you're doing body fat testing with a skinfold caliper, personal trainers might vary from person to person on how they're testing it. So, there could be a level of variability.

Also, on things like moving assessments, overhead squat assessments, those are relatively subjective seen from the trainer. With DNA testing, it's totally objective and it's not something that is really able for us to argue because it's 99.9% accurate. And then finally, the idea of reliable and long-lasting results, what we're saying is, the outcomes are going to change over time, but a client's DNA is not going to change over time.

DNA Assessments

So, the first step in the assessment process really should be knowing what their DNA is. And then you can start assessing the other things that are going to change as you continue working with them. In the course that we provide, there's actually over 30 genetic markers that personal trainers and nutrition coaches can look at that are going to impact how you develop your nutrition planning and your workouts for your clients.

Weight Loss Tendency

And then all of those, they're all going to impact the client's success, but there's a few that are really critical into knowing how your client is going to respond. And the first of those is their weight loss tendency. And this genetic marker, what it looks like is it's going to tell you whether they have a below average or a normal likelihood, and in some cases, well below average, actually weight loss tendency.

This is going to say with regular diet and exercise, how likely is it a client going to be able to lose weight and keep that weight off. And this is really valuable information because you're going to know that they might have some extra struggles ahead of them that you can proactively overcome. You're also going to know, let's say for example they fall on the below average score for weight loss tendency. You also know that personal training might be always for them. They might always require a personal trainer to help them stay accountable and motivated.

Fat Loss Response to Cardio

Another marker that we can look at is their fat loss response to cardio. This marker isn't going to tell us if they're able to lose body fat as a response to cardio, instead it's going to say how quickly does their body go after stored fat as a means for fuel when they're doing cardio. Somebody with an enhanced marker on this one is going to start utilizing stored body fat as an energy supply a lot faster than somebody that falls below average. That then would tell us how we structure their cardio. How long should they be doing cardio for? Should they be doing it on a semi fasted state? 

Protein, Carb, and Fat Utilization

Other information like protein utilization is really helpful too, because it'll actually show you carb utilization, protein utilization, fat utilization, and what those genetic markers are telling us is how that client is going to respond in this situation with protein on a higher protein diet.

So, if the client is scoring high on protein utilization, all that means is they will respond a little more favorably to a higher protein diet. And we're not saying in all protein diet. What we're saying is, more like 25 or 30% of their calories coming from protein. So, this is really good too, because in the past, clients were usually going out after fat diet. We as professionals are going after the behaviors that we can guide them into healthy eating. This is their DNA. This is how they use those macronutrients, which is going to give a little bit more information for us. 

Intrinsic Motivation to Exercise

Some other valuable markers that we have that might not be so obvious is intrinsic motivation to exercise. Let's start with that one. Some clients, some people, maybe even you, just don't feel normal if they don't do their workout every day. That's great. That means they have high intrinsic motivation levels. They get satisfaction and pleasure out of working out, and not everybody's like that, and that's okay.

Knowing this information is going to tell you, okay, are they enjoying their workouts just because we're working out or do I need to structure some other incentives around what they're doing to help make them find this an enjoyable experience? 

Potential for Power and Endurance

Power versus endurance potential. We probably already know that some people are just meant to be marathon runners and others are meant to be doing functional fitness competitions. Knowing this information for a client is great because if they're more on the power or the endurance, it helps you know, not just how to structure their program, but what they're going to be good at.

Clients are always going to be having a lot more fun with things that they're good at than things that they're just really struggling with. So, this gives you an idea of how they can be more successful. 

Recovery and Injury Risk

And then also it looks at recovery and injury risk. For example, how well is your body going to respond to sleep or your client's body? Are they going to be able to capitalize on those hours that they're sleeping or maybe they don't? So maybe they have to put some other sleep hygiene in to their plan to recover better.

How Does DNA Influence Your Programming?

We've talked about it in pieces as I've gone through this, but let's look at it specifically. How does the DNA influence how you're developing programs for your clients? The first one is, it's going to tell us the likelihood that they're going to be able to maintain their weight loss and begin that weight loss. It's also going to tell us about how long, for example, they should be doing cardio. It's going to give them a more personalized approach to macronutrient recommendations. And it's also going to give you an idea of how much additional support are they going to need. So this is more on the intrinsic motivation to exercise.

Do you need to engage them in competitions? Do you need to offer them incentives? What are the things that you can be doing to get them always moving towards their goals? And so, as we're talking through this, for this particular webinar, this is more just about how DNA influences your client programs. In a follow-up one, we're going to show you how you can structure your service offering so that you can see exactly what you could be providing for your clients, what you should be charging, what those sessions should look like.

Because the reality of it is, pretty much all clients are going to benefit from DNA-based programs. Weight loss clients are going to love it because they're going to know exactly what their genes say about them and what they can do about it. And then athletes with performance goals, just as equally great. You're going to get a lot of insight into information for their food, information on how they're VO2 max is going to respond, and then people just really looking for long-lasting results while working out from home.

One thing that gets brought up when we do these presentations or that gets asked is, do clients ever negatively respond to their results from the DNA testing? And the reality is, of course they can and of course they do, which why it's valuable that a trained professional is delivering them their results versus them just reading the report on their own. Because for example, in the image that we have right here, this person scored below average on their weight loss tenancy.

If I'm a client and I'm reading that or just to somebody that works out, I might think, Well, okay, I might as well just succumb to where I am and realize that weight loss isn't in my genes nor in my future. But instead when delivered appropriately, it tells them exactly what they can do. It tells them the success strategies of what they should be doing in order to combat what that score looks like.

And all of this turns into a real strong feeling of empowerment with clients, because now it's not a secret anymore. Now they don't have to feel bad about not responding the same way other people do. Now they know what they're up against and they know what to do about it. It makes it all a little bit easier to live with. You might be asking how you can make more money offering DNA-Based Fitness Coaching.

Make More Money Offering DNA-Based Fitness Coaching

The first is, is that it's a one of a kind service. It's not very prominent out there, not a lot of personal trainers, because it's so new to the industry. Not a lot of trainers have this certification underneath their belt yet. So it's going to give you that key differentiator from other professionals out there, which is fantastic. Number two, it's going to allow you to venture into virtual coaching a little bit easier. You're going to have them take this test. They're going to get the results, and you're going to go over the report with them and together you guys will build out a plan, and then that sets the stage for your coaching in your follow-up.

So, it's a great way to give a solid assessment of a client when you're starting to do virtual training and virtual assessments. And it also gives you really great accuracy for their programs. A lot of times trainers are making their programs based on what's worked for them, or what they've noticed has worked with clients in the past, but now we all know this is about as personalized as it gets.

And then finally, because there is that unique differentiator and it's new to the market, you can charge a little bit more per hour, and it also allows you that flexibility because you can deliver the reports and you can do that very easily virtually, and then you can schedule your follow-up when it's appropriate and you're in charge of how much money you're going to be making for this. All right, you might be asking what's next.

First of all, we're going to further help you in another session where we talk about exactly how you deliver the information, how you can structure your pricing and where to go to get all set up. You definitely want to become certified because you want to know all about those different genetic markers. There's more than just the six I talked about. Remember, there's over 30 and you're going to want to know also how a client might score on them and then how that impacts your program design for them.

So, get certified, learn more. It's always helpful for you to get your own genetic test, and then you are qualified to be able to deliver your own DNA-based fitness and nutrition programs. Thank you all so much for attending this session of ISSA Talk. If you have any questions, feel free to chat them in the comments below.

Do know that we're going to have a follow-up on this one where we show you exactly how to structure your pricing and what your value proposition is. So, there's more to come on this one. Of course, if you have any questions, you know where to find us,, or you can give us a call at (800) 545-4772. 

Ready to amp up your personal training business? Sign up for ISSA’s DNA-Based Fitness Coach program to help your clients get results specifically tailored to their unique makeup.


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