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ISSA, International Sports Sciences Association, Certified Personal Trainer, ISSAonline, What’s Your Fitness Philosophy as a Trainer or Coach?

What’s Your Fitness Philosophy as a Trainer or Coach?

Reading Time: 5 minutes 12 seconds


DATE: 2021-10-30

Fitness and science go hand in hand. We study the body and how it reacts to different forms of exercise. This helps us create a fitness routine that offers clients optimal results. In the world of fitness, we also take an in-depth look at the structure and function of muscle and tendons and ligaments. What we learn can then be used to determine the best approach for targeting a specific area of the body or muscle group.

Yet, fitness isn’t just about exercise science. It goes much deeper than that. If you want to really help clients in the fitness industry, you also need to be aware of—and know how to use—your fitness philosophy.

What is a Fitness Philosophy?

Think of your fitness philosophy as a sort of values statement. It explains your most basic thoughts and feelings about physical activity or a healthy lifestyle in just a few words.

Maybe you believe that physical activity is the foundation of good health, for instance. Your philosophy could reflect this. “Your fitness level determines your level of health.”

Or perhaps your viewpoint is that achieving peak fitness requires a holistic approach. In this case, your philosophy might reference the importance of not only strength training and aerobic exercise, but also healthy eating habits and a balanced diet plan. “You can’t be fit without a fitness lifestyle.”

A fitness philosophy may reveal a bit about your personality and training style. It could even be something that you say to clients regularly during their training sessions. “Work hard today, live healthy tomorrow.”

Why Your Physical Fitness and Training Philosophy is Important as a Trainer

Your philosophy toward fitness reveals who you are as a personal trainer. Potential clients can then use this to determine whether you are a good fit for them. It also helps you recognize whether a client may or may not be the best fit for you.

For example, if your philosophy is that yoga is the cornerstone of fitness, a client who believes the same would be more drawn to you. Conversely, potential clients who didn’t share this viewpoint would likely be better served by a trainer with a different approach.

Your philosophy may even provide a glimpse of your coaching style. “You can’t have fitness without having fun” has a much different feel than “Your fitness is determined by the intensity with which you work out in the gym.”

Sometimes, your philosophy serves as a sort of positive mantra for clients. It can be used to motivate them. “Every workout puts you one step closer to your fitness goal.” By remembering this phase, clients may feel more compelled to continue to push forward, even when they feel like giving up.

Factors to Consider When Identifying Your Fitness Philosophy

So, how do you know what your fitness philosophy is? Here are a few factors to consider when trying to identify yours:

  • What fitness means to you. Merriam-Webster defines fitness as “the quality or state of being fit.” But what does this word mean to you? Is it achieving a certain goal (long-term weight loss or increased muscle mass, for instance)? Or maybe you view fitness as constantly working to improve your level of wellness. There is no right or wrong answer. This is simply what you mean when you say the word “fitness.”

  • Why you believe fitness is important. Why do you promote regular physical exercise? What purpose does a fitness program achieve? Is it about feeling your best, looking your best, a combination of the two, or something else? Why should everyone work on their strength or cardiovascular fitness? You can use your answers to these questions to help formulate your fitness philosophy.

  • Your approach to getting fit. What is your personal training style? Are you a tell-it-like-it-is coach who relies heavily on intense activities such as high intensity interval training? Or do you have a softer approach that is less in-your-face and embraces low-impact exercise (such as walking) or light-intensity group classes? A philosophy that provides insight into your approach can help draw in your ideal client.

What’s Your Fitness Philosophy? 4 Steps to Finding the Answer

Because your philosophy can go so many different directions—from what fitness means to you to why it is important to your approach—it can be hard to drill it down to just a few words. If you’re struggling to hone in on what your philosophy is, taking these steps can help you arrive at your answer.

Step 1: Recognize Why You Become a Certified Personal Trainer or Nutrition Coach

Grab a piece of paper and list the reasons why you chose fitness training or nutrition coaching as your career. What drew you to the fitness industry or wellness industry over all of the other options that exist? Did getting fit help you create a happier or healthier life? Have you always had a passion for exercise or nutrition and you want to stoke that passion in others?

Step 2: Identify the Results You Provide

Now create another list. On this one, write out the results that clients get when working with you. Do your programs improve their functional fitness? If so, add it to the list. Maybe you help them fall in love with healthy food. Write that down too.

Step 3: Describe How You Coach Your Clients

This third step involves considering your coaching style. How would others in your field describe you as a coach? What about your clients? Create a list of the words they would use when talking about the way you work. Options to consider include: intense, motivational, hard-core, supportive, and compassionate.

Step 4: Put It All Together

Look at each of your three lists and see if you can put them together to come up with one cohesive statement that accurately states what you think about fitness. “A fit body is a happy body. When you lose weight and build strength, you’re living your best life physically. And this can be accomplished with a little grit and perseverance—as well as a little fun!”

Ways to Use Your Philosophy to Help Clients in Their Fitness Journey

Once you’ve dialed in your philosophy, you can use it to help clients as they embark on their fitness journey. Talk to them about how you’ve arrived at your views toward diet and exercise. This helps them see where you are coming from when prescribing a specific food or exercise program. It also works to build the rapport needed for a strong client-coach relationship.

A good time to introduce your philosophy is during a client’s initial consultation. This way, if they don’t agree with your thoughts and views, you both know it immediately. It prevents you from investing a lot of time in their training only to realize that it isn’t going to work out.

You might also include your philosophy in your marketing materials. Place it on your fitness business website or use it as a quote on the bottom of your intake forms. Let people know upfront what you believe or how you approach getting fit. Your philosophy will draw in those who feel the same and want to work with a coach who has similar beliefs.

This is perhaps even more important if you are an online coach. Sharing your philosophy can help set you apart from all of the other trainers and coaches. It tells clients why they should choose you to help them achieve their fitness goals.

Not yet coaching clients online but would like to? ISSA offers Online Coach certification. This course teaches you how to create a successful business as a virtual fitness coach. You also learn a few marketing strategies that will help you increase your online presence.

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