Personal trainers are not your nutritionists

State Hornet

When committing to maintaining or losing weight, we often find ourselves asking for nutritional advice. Personal trainers and fitness instructors sometimes are the first people we turn to when looking for dietary guidance.

Trainers and instructors are experts in helping us build muscle and maintain an active lifestyle. They are not nutritional experts and sometimes they tend to forget that.

Having a balanced diet or making healthy grocery decisions might not be our forte, especially for those of us who have more “cheat days” than we should be allowed.

It is no wonder they often have the bodies we strive for, and we like to believe their lives revolve around living a healthy lifestyle. However, this is not always the case.

When people develop the student-teacher relationship with a personal trainer or fitness instructor in the gym, a lot of power is put in the hands of those who become the teacher. Trust, money and commitment are invested in that person, and by giving them the authority, trainers and instructors can sometimes forget where their expertise lies.

Telling their students or trainees what supplements to take, which vitamins are most important or providing a dietary plan to students without being a licensed dietician is careless and can be detrimental to a person’s health. They are, in a sense, abusing their power whether they intend to or not.

Health history is often not considered when instructors blurt out their food and supplement suggestions.

Some people may have diabetes or allergies that can react to the supplements trainers suggest. Some might even be taking medication that is paired with food restrictions. Some might not mention they are expectant mothers and it may not be obvious to the trainer.

At the end of the day, these trainers and instructors do not know a person’s health history in its entirety which is a requirement to provide proper nutritional advice.

Something we see instructors and trainers do is use their authority in the gym to market products they might represent. Body by Vi, Herbalife and BeachBody are a few nutritional supplements often pushed in the gym setting.

Although it may be disguised as a healthy meal replacement or “way of life,” we must remember their advice is based on improving their sales and expanding their business.

Kudos to them for being financially driven and using their resources to lead them to success. But at that point, they are no longer working for what is in the best interest of the individual. Their clients and students are being misguided in order to make the sale.

Our “teachers” in the gym need to remember their purpose: helping us stay fit. Suggestions on dietary advice is appreciated, but it is their responsibility to refer their clients to doctors or licensed dieticians, the actual experts.