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Guest Post: The History of Personal Training and Its Role in Fitness Today


The career in personal training is a relatively new one. Sure, the ancient Greeks and other past civilizations had their athletic traditions, but they were mostly aimed towards keeping people fit for combat, not for personal reasons. Exercising for health and hiring fitness experts is a new practice less than 100 years old.

A typical personal trainer image that we have today, a person that works with clients in a gym, didn’t exist until the late 1900s. In general, fitness became popular through TV programs and celebrities who sparked the fitness movement. In the early days, no certificate was needed to become a personal trainer and to be recognized as a fitness professional. It was not until the 90s that the first certificate was created and that personal training became a sustainable job path. Today, we have many different certifications and excellent experts who do wonders for people’s fitness and health. However, in order to understand today’s importance of personal trainers and their role, we need to know the history of this career and where and how it all began.

Fitness on the rise

Germany and Sweden were the leading forces in fitness from 1700 to 1850 and there are two individuals who stood out—Johann GutsMuths and Friedrich Jahn, the “grandfathers of German Gymnastics”. They not only created routines for gymnasts to perform but also came up with various equipment pieces used even today.

Early years

In the late 19th century, destination health spas were very popular, but they were concerned with exercise in a much different fashion than we are today. They often used questionable methods and procedures that had very little to do with real fitness. However, in the early 20th century, the godfather of fitness was born. Jack LaLanne was born in California in 1914 and started his fitness journey as a sugar-addicted child. Jack was convinced that sugar made him feel weak and mean, so he soon threw himself into a sugar-free diet, started exercising and eating healthy and soon, he was playing on several high school sports teams. At the young age of only 22, Jack opened the first official health club. By personally training his clients, he became the first personal trainer ever.

First real certified trainers

The American College of Sports Medicine was founded in 1854 and they are the first organization that started certifying fitness professionals. By the 1980s, being a personal trainer became a viable and popular career option. People like John Basedow, Jack Lalanne and Gilad Janklowicz made millions selling fitness videos and other services. Today, there are professional training companies that can help people get fit at the gym or at their own home. But, thanks to pioneers like Lalanne, anyone can learn about fitness, become a certified personal trainer and find a good job in the field.

The role of a personal trainer

Due to various TV programs and celebs who work with personal trainers, this career is more prominent now than it was ever before. Today, trainers are recognized as an active part of an individual’s progress and achievements. However, there are many different views on what a private trainer should do and how should they look. The main characteristics every trainer should possess are passion, purpose, coaching and caring and these qualities are so much more important than the way a trainer looks. However, the size of the bicep and the definition of abs shouldn’t be neglected either.

All in all, a personal trainer has a task to give advice, provide clients with constructive criticism and dig deep into motivation. For instance, a good personal trainer will encourage you to follow a healthy lifestyle, carry drink bottles with you and stay hydrated. They might also recommend various drink options and prescribe how much water to consume. Things like this will not only boost your fitness results but also improve your overall health.

What to avoid in a personal trainer

If you’re looking for a personal trainer, there are a few red flags to keep your eye on. While a trainer needs to coach you, cheer you on and give you confidence, they shouldn’t give medical advice, provide physical therapy and try to give a medical diagnosis. This is something reserved for medical professionals and people with appropriate training and experience in that field. Another thing to avoid is psychological counseling or getting to personally involved. Of course, a true professional will not even try to engage in romantic relationships with a client. Lastly, a personal trainer will never push their own goals onto the client. Any of these behaviors should result in finding a new personal trainer.

From its humble beginnings, personal training grew into a multi-million industry that reached all parts of the globe. Indeed, the best and most sustainable way to improve your fitness is with a certified professional, so feel free to become a part of a proud history!

Author Bio:

Diana Smith is a full time mom of two beautiful girls interested in topics related to home improvement, DIY and interior design. In her free time she enjoys reading and preparing healthy meals for her family.

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