I talked previously about the necessity for blistering underpinning knowledge to be a credible and capable Personal Trainer. Well here is the flip side to that coin. Hands-on skills.
Each capability feeds the other. I have seen PT’s succeed with just one, but when it comes to the crunch, if you don’t know why you are doing what you are doing, you will get found out sooner or later. And that is one of the most confidence-damaging revelations of all for potential and existing customers.
So, what is so special about hands-on skills? Well, where to begin. Time was, perhaps 20 years back, that a Personal Trainer could write a programme and then coach a person through it. Job done. And there is nothing wrong with that.
These days though, a customer can download all the exercise programmes they want from the internet for less money than two PT sessions and they can train with a friend for motivation, track their progress on their smartwatch, and receive timely pointers through their headphones! So where does the value of a PT now lie?
The answer comes in part from the ability to identify a customer’s aches and pains through skillful palpation and testing, functional assessment and hands-on guidance – because if you are training your customer hard, these issues will arise.
This technique allows a PT to build a detailed picture in their mind of the customer’s musculoskeletal terrain. Where is there spasm present? Why is there tenderness in a particular ligament? What is that blocking the natural movement of the customer’s joint? A good PT should be able to identify these challenges, whether they remedy them or refer on to another health professional.
This component helps raise the bar for Personal Training and increases our capacity to interface with other health professionals such as Physiotherapists and GP’s to whom we should refer customers when their requirement is beyond our scope of practice. The future lies in these uprated skills. I, for one, can’t wait for them to become a standard feature of PT education.