i>Acceptable level of knowledge in exercise technique, exercise theory, human physiology, human nutrition
  • Exceptional knack for applying that knowledge to bring about changes in others
  • Responsibility
  • Honesty
  • Concern for people
  • Integrity

    More Archived Articles From Phil Kaplan

    For Fitness Professionals

    1. Achieving Professional Status (and Pay) from Club Industry
    2. Supplements from Personal Fitness Professional

    originally published in Club Industry, July, 2001
    Achieving Professional Status (and Pay)
    By Phil Kaplan

    Achieving Professional Status (and Pay)

    Professional. It's a great word, an adjective that can make a big difference.

    In sports, we can all define a professional athlete, the people who receive compensation for outstanding ability and performance. Similarly, in medical and legal arenas, the “P-word” is clearly understood.

    Not so in our industry.

    While trainers can acquire certification from any of the more than 400 certifying agencies and stake claims to the “Professional” title, a uniform definition for “Fitness Professional” does not exist. The industry remains unregulated, and anyone willing to splurge for business cards can print “Personal Trainer” in bold type.

    To establish professional income in the fitness industry (comparable to the professional income in other industries), it's first essential to develop a professional standard.

    Many trainers spend their days counting backward. If trainers limit their focus to walking clients through routines, professionalism will always be in question.

    In order to command professional fees, trainers must first recognize the importance of perception and adjust marketing accordingly. If, through strategic marketing, a fitness professional can place him- or herself on a “value” platform with legal and medical professionals, income limitations are obliterated.

    The Challenges

    The absence of professional recognition frustrates personal trainers, particularly those with acceptable credentials. Our industry asks trainers to conduct free assessments, free orientations or free workouts, placing the perceived value of training services at zero. Trainers must climb a steep hill to rise from “valueless” to “valuable,” becoming a profesional worthy of handsome fees.

    Further compounding the frustration, supplements, drugs and spot-reduction devices are hawked in a media-driven frenzy. Given the choice between “take a pill and melt fat” or “retain a trainer and work hard,” people often pick the pill.

    Go Beyond Rep Counting

    Trainers must be viewed as resources, not only for exercise prescription, but for basic understandable truths that relate to improving a human body. People are failing to find desired results due to ineffective technologies being promoted as reputed solutions. Professional trainers should establish positions as recognized experts who guide hopefuls through the maze of misinformation.

    Initiating Change

    When global change takes place, it's initiated by a rare few willing to break an old paradigm. An elite core of bold trainers must unite and take a stand. Professionals deserve to be paid for their time.

    In the health club industry, there must be a middle ground where owners, trainers and sales forces meet. The trainer can spark dramatic revenue increases, but only if positioned to do so.

    A perceived “expert” can guide members to make purchases, participate in for-fee programs, and ultimately to renew and refer. To position the trainer to succeed in this manner, there should be a clear value attached to all personal training services. Moving toward this end will take collaboration of all components of the health club “team.”

    Trainers will be respected as professionals if they are placed in a position where information has value. They can author articles in local publications, appear as guests on local television and radio programs, and conduct seminars for varied groups.

    I teach trainers to arrange health fairs where they include themselves alongside doctors as speakers; this boosts the perception of professionalism. Developing a newsletter that integrates articles from physicians with articles penned by trainers also creates the perception of professional expertise.

    Trainers should not be presented as another “feature” in clubs, but as the vehicles most likely to bring new and existing members the results they seek. In order to perpetuate the recognition of trainer professionalism and pave the way for professional fees, three elements need to be in place:

    1. A collaboration between owners, sales forces and trainers to establish a professional position linking the training staff with value.

    2. A standard that allows trainers to act confidently and accurately as resources for basic understandable truths.

    3. A commitment to combine strategic marketing and dedicated effort to deliver more value than members expect.

    With the establishment of a professional standard and a focus on the elements above, trainers can become the heroes of an industry capable of benefiting the health and fitness of America and the world.

    Media personality, author, consultant and consumer advocate, Phil Kaplan developed PEAK Training to help personal trainers increase professionalism. His newest book is Personal Training Profits. He can be contacted at (800) 552-1998 or www.philkaplan.com.

    Professional Traits

    In the June 1995 edition of his Health & Wealth newsletter, Phil Kaplan shared the traits (beyond certification) that he believes can qualify a trainer as a professional. These traits, listed below, are not included in any specific order; they are all equally important.

    • Extraordinary people skills
    • Ability to motivate
    • Creativity
    • Acceptable level of knowledge in exercise technique, exercise theory, human physiology, human nutrition
    • Exceptional knack for applying that knowledge to bring about changes in others
    • Responsibility
    • Honesty
    • Concern for people
    • Integrity
    • Loyalty
    • Marketing ability
    • Willingness to keep abreast of new developments
    • Exceptional communication skills

    From the Archives, From Personal Fitness Professional
    Which complete the puzzle
    By Phil Kaplan

    The day I began this article, a client sat down with a member of my training staff and held her bottles out with pride. This was a scheduled nutrition discussion and before any mention of food, she was inclined to review her supplement regimen. "This is what I take," she proclaimed. The trainer, as he's been trained to do, asked the obvious question, "And what is it that you're trying to achieve?" Two words followed. "Burn fat."

    He brought her into my office and explained that she was frustrated. After all, chromium was supposed to melt fat away while she sat on the couch and watched TV. Pyruvate was going to cause every cell in her body to exercise for her. The thermogenic formula was going to boost her metabolism and give her a lean, shapely body. I asked a simple question, "If any of these "worked," would you be sitting here right now?" It took mere seconds for common sense to set in.

    The awakening I witness in such cases still astounds me.

    Cutting through Confusion
    I know every trainer has faced the supplement junkie in search of the "one that works." I also know that while trainers understand that supplements cannot be a "solution," they are, as are their clients, in some cases every bit as confused as to what "research has proven.” With the multitude of new "fat burners" showing up in everywhere from convenience stores to gas stations and promotions for these products infiltrating TV, radio and even shopping malls, it's no wonder confusion abounds.

    Let's be honest. NO supplement burns fat!

    Before you jump out of your shorts screaming "thermogenic magic," revisit that statement. I didn't say there aren't supplements that can play a role in the fat burning process. I said NO supplement burns fat, and I'll stand behind that statement until ...well...until fat melts off my body "while I eat all the pizza, ice cream and butter I want," just as the ads promise.

    To attempt to answer every supplement question in a single article would be a fruitless undertaking. My goal, therefore, is to provide a "filter," a foundation of knowledge which can help you see through much of the supplement deception and put you in a far better position to share valuable information with your dedicated clients.

    The first rule: A supplement, by definition, means "the addition to." The addition to what? Obviously, if the goal is fitness, muscle gain or fat loss, the addition to training and eating.

    Here’s a second rule: NEVER blindly believe the ads! That doesn't mean all ads are fraudulent, it just means the companies that place them buy the space and use it to say, in many cases, anything they want. While some offer insight into legitimate science and sell their products based on true product value, others confuse consumers with scientific double talk and lead people to believe that some "new miracle discovery" has opened the door for miraculous results.

    From A to Z
    Read the ads. Know what information your clients are being subjected to and do the best you can to filter the information so you can empower clients to make wiser choices. With fraud pushed aside, there are some incredible supplements that can aid your clients immensely. Let's take a look at some of the "hottest" products and examine their potential benefits:

    Pyruvate - If you know anyone who "melted fat without exercise" using pyruvate, I beg you to contact me. Pyruvate (pyruvic acid) is in fact a by product of carbohydrate metabolism, but that doesn't necessarily mean oral supplementation magnifies the effect. If an individual consumes adequate carbohydrates and exercises regularly, pyruvate is manufactured without any need for oral addition. The study most quoted in pyruvate ads uses overweight women on low-calorie diets. There are far too many variables to consider this study conclusive, especially one that would lend itself to active people who are eating supportively and exercising. Another oft-referenced study performed on exercising men and women (“The effects of pyruvate supplementation on body composition in overweight individuals.” Nutrition, 1999) used six grams of pyruvate per day, far more than the products referencing the research provide in their recommendations. Most popular supplements suggest doses of 500 milligrams – 750 milligrams three times daily.

    Fat Blockers – Xenical the drug and chitosan the supplement achieve their actions are differently, yet both promise to block the absorption of fat. When you put chitosan, a substance extracted from shellfish, in the digestive tract it attracts fat molecules and blobs them up into such large "fat balls" they can't be absorbed. Whenever you block absorption of fat, there are some possible discomforts and risks. First, the essential vitamins, A, D, E and K are fat soluble vitamins. If you are limiting fat absorption, you can not help but restrict absorption of these essential micronutrients. These vitamins play a role in metabolism, immune function and overall health. Aside from blocking absorption of essential vitamins, the side effects of keeping fat in the digestive tract include (I'm using the words in the Xenical disclaimers although most, if not all of these can be listed as risks with chitosan as well) oily spotting, anal leakage, intestinal cramping, gas with discharge, nausea, diarrhea, fecal urgency, loose and oily stools as well as fecal incontinence. I believe, from our standpoint, the worst part of the fat blocker marketing is the promotion of the belief people can eat all the fat they want, take a pill and not worry about any potential ills. One of the largest marketers of chitosan was recently fined more than $10 million by the FTC for making misleading claims. Still, the products sell.

    Thermogenics - Thermogenic means "initiating heat." Since a calorie is a unit of heat, any product or activity that can increase heat production, even moderately, can result in greater caloric expenditure over time. The thermogenic products most popular among bodybuilding and weight-loss markets are herbal combinations of the drugs caffeine and ephedrine. Some incorporate other compounds such as aspirin to potentiate the “thermogenic” effect. Caffeine and ephedrine are both stimulants, as well as addictive and together they suppress appetite. Caffeine also has a slight diuretic effect. If you elevate someone's heart rate, feed him less (due to decreased appetite) and get him addicted to stimulant products with water loss properties, is he going to lose weight? Of course! Does that mean it's healthful or there's a long-term benefit to metabolism? Does that mean "fat melts?" Nope. Can these thermogenics play a role in facilitating greater fat loss if used sparingly as "the addition to" a carefully designed exercise program? Yes. All the way back in 1984, researchers were able to evidence the weight loss benefits of ephedrine in clinical trials. There has since been extensive research in humans proving caffeine and ephedrine to assist in quest of weight loss. The challenge here is that too many randomly swallow these thermogenic formulas and run the risk of addiction and side effects. Too many believe the thermogenic products, in and of themselves, will rid their bodies of excess fat. Many weight-loss hopefuls who have battled obesity for decades have thyroid, blood pressure and cardiorespiratory issues that might put them in the high-risk category for which ephedrine and caffeine are contraindicated. The side effects can range from headaches and tremors to, in extreme cases of overuse or abuse by individuals with risk factors, stroke and death. My intention is not to discourage you from recognizing the potential value of these products, but rather to help you understand they are not "fat-burning miracles" as the advertising may lead you to believe. As misinformation in this area abounds, you might consider the importance we need to place upon education. Remember, NO supplement burns fat!

    Protein Powders - After years of debate, it appears clear that exercising individuals, especially those in search of muscle gain stimulated by intense resistance training, have greater protein demands than their sedentary counterparts. Realize, however, that protein is not a supplement, but a nutrient. In the event that you cannot comfortably get enough protein from meals, a protein supplement becomes a valid option. Protein manufacturers have learned to chemically break proteins down into hydrolysates, smaller chains of amino acids, to make the formulas "better," with whey developing a reputation as the "best" protein source. Before you jump on the whey hydrolysate bandwagon, understand that more important than what you "eat" is "what you use." A recent study (Boirie Y; Dangin M; Gachon P; Vasson MP; Maubois JL; Beaufr`ere B, Slow and fast dietary proteins differently modulate postprandial protein accretion. Proc National Academy of Sciences United States of America, 94(26):14930-5 1997) illustrated that ingestion of a protein hydrolysate formula with quick gastric emptying properties can result in abrupt increases in serum amino acid levels, causing liver enzymes to metabolize many of the amino acids that could have been used for protein synthesis. It appears, based upon the Boirie study, that you'd get much better utilization by combining a high-quality whey isolate with a slower release protein, such as casein. Do you have to therefore become a scientist to understand what protein powders work? No. You just need to understand the ads sometimes hype products based on laboratory jargon that has little relevance to actual human results. An affordable combination of milk protein isolates and/or egg protein will in all likelihood provide your clients with equal or superior benefit to many of the “cutting-edge” formulas for far less money.

    MRPs (meal replacement powders) - When a supportive meal is not available, a meal replacement can certainly act as a valuable aid. You have to become a bit of a label-reading detective to tell the differences between the formulas, and even with careful label inspection it's hard to tell what's inside. If you find quality proteins (usually grouped together as a trademarked "proprietary blend”), maltodextrin as a carbohydrate source and a complete mix of vitamins and minerals, you're doing okay. Be on the lookout for ingredient lists that include barley malt, corn syrup, fructose, etc. These are all simple sugars. The new breed of MRPs have not sacrificed taste by eliminating sugar. They’ve developed great tasting powders using acesulfame K, stevia, sucralose and other sweeteners. Also watch ingredient labels for hydrogenated oils added, not for biological value, but rather for “mouth feel.” The best selling commercial brands are all quite similar. Using the few guidelines offered here, anyone should be able to make a wise choice in selecting a meal replacement formula that aids in obtaining valuable nutrient intake frequently throughout the day.

    Androstenedione (and other testosterone precursors) – Before randomly swallowing hormonal “supplements,” it’s important to recognize that when you synthetically alter production of a specific hormone (i.e. testosterone), you can be certain there’s going to be an effect on other hormones in the hormonal cascade (i.e. estrogen). I haven’t seen any published research to validate muscle growth claims of any versions of the new hormonal products and a recent study appeared to evidence no muscle building benefit and possible increases in estradiol, an estrogen, the complete opposite effect most “andro” consumers seek. An understanding of biochemistry might lead you to conclude that oral hormone manipulation using some of the testosterone precursors can actually result in some of the side effects of anabolic steroid drugs without delivering desired effects. I would discourage trainers from recommending their clients attempt to manipulate hormones through random supplementation.

    Creatine - Creatine monohydrate can result in attracting more water into every muscle cell, as well as increasing phosphocreatine supply in muscle. It’s the first and only supplement I've ever wholeheartedly endorsed as an aid for muscle gain, strength and performance. Creatine monohydrate powder conclusively proves efficacious in research. Other forms of creatine are often sold more with hype than substantiated value. If you are speaking to your clients about the benefits of creatine monohydrate, you’re safe keeping references to creatine monohydrate powder. While research has further shown a potential added benefit of ingesting five milligrams of creatine with 35 to 75 grams of sugar, many product manufacturers have increased their profit margins by creating “creatine delivery” formulas, which allow them to charge you lots of money for inexpensive sugar.

    Recovery - the post exercise state offers a unique opportunity to refill glycogen stores. There is substantial evidence to suggest a muscle building and recuperative advantage to consuming a post-workout mix of glucose and fructose within 30 minutes following exercise. The newest formulas are enhanced with predigested proteins for quick absorption and L-glutamine, creatine and complete vitamin/mineral profiles. These formulas can definitely act as aids in furthering workout intensity and benefit.

    There Are No Miracles
    There are some age-old vitamin and mineral supplements that have been touted as having great benefits. The fact is, they are micronutrients, essential in the picture of optimal health, but not single performers presenting any miraculous improvement. Without essential micronutrition, you might limit your potential for results. Since exercise increases bodily demand for all nutrients, there are some supplements that can be protective or can act as insurance to make sure micronutrition needs are met. I personally use 2000 milligrams of supplemental Vitamin C, 400 iu of Vitamin E, a B-complex and a multi-mineral formula. I’ve always shared the potential benefits of these nutrients with clients and allowed them to make their own decisions. Most of my clients take a C, E, multi-mineral and B-complex with breakfast, but none expect miracles. They understand that building a lean, toned, healthy body has far more to do with a foundation of exercise and eating than it does with any promised “magic in a bottle.”

    I’d suggest that as a professional, you maintain a consistent focus on what you know to be effective and maintain an ongoing commitment to learn, question and protect your clients from what may be unproven, over-hyped and in some cases, potentially dangerous. Exercise and supportive eating offers a sound foundation for any physical excellence program. While proven supplements can be integrated into a complete program of exercise and nutrition with safety and value, there is not and probably never will be a supplement that replaces the foundation we’ve all been trained to uphold and build upon.

    Get more of Phil's Information! Take Advantage of his re-release of the acclaimed Newsletter referred to as the "Secret Weapon" of the Fitness Industry elite.

    If you haven't been there yet find other archived articles:

    Creative Marketing Strategies from Personal Fitness Professional
    Cable Hookup from Muscle & Fitness

    Fitness Careers - The Bodybuilding Biz

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