The evolution of personal fitness coaching
Thinking of a career as a personal trainer? The industry has changed significantly since the first commercial PTs came to the market. From new technology to better training methods we look at the evolution of personal training over the past 30 years.
When you think about exercising in the 1980s, it’s likely that lycra, legwarmers and aerobics classes spring to mind. It’s fair to say that the fitness landscape has changed drastically since then. We asked a personal trainer in London to talk us through some of the main changes that the industry has seen over the last 30 years or so.
One of the biggest ways in which personal training has changed since the 1980s is in the training methods preferred by trainers and their clients. Personal training 30 years ago was very much focused on exercises such as stomach crunches, press-ups and long sessions on the treadmill. And while these still have their place, our exercise and fitness knowledge has expanded rapidly since then and we now know that there are more effective ways to exercise. In particular, high intensity interval training (or HIIT) is known to be really effective at burning calories and increasing strength, and many personal trainers now build this into their workouts.
Today’s trainers are also not afraid of ditching the gym in favour of heading outdoors and getting back to basics. There has been a clear move away from fancy gym equipment, with trainers instead preferring to focus on bodyweight exercises, and using everyday items as training props – ultimately making exercise more accessible.
The development of new technology has had a particularly big impact on personal training and how its delivered. In particular, the proliferation of fitness-related apps and wearable tech have changed the way we train. We can now receive real-time, detailed feedback on performance, and this enables personal trainers to easily identify areas for improvement and offer more tailored advice to clients during a training session.
The availability and popularity of online video technology also means that personal trainers can now reach a wider audience. Face-to-face sessions are still a trainer’s bread and butter, but many are now taking a hybrid approach and combining these with group online classes, or online nutrition courses, for example.
Another big change is that today’s personal trainers are no longer just trainers. Thanks, in part to the rise in virtual workouts, personal trainers face more competition than ever before, and they need to go beyond the basics in order to stand out in a crowded marketplace. This, combined with increased client expectation, means that the majority of today’s personal trainers take a more holistic approach, going beyond fitness and exercise to also offer their clients nutritional and lifestyle advice.
Improvement in standards
Thirty years ago, almost anyone could set themselves up as a personal trainer, and it was difficult for clients to know what they would be getting in terms of quality and impact. These days the industry is more regulated, with a range of industry-recognised qualifications that ensure trainers have the knowledge and skills they need to work as a personal trainer. This, along with an increased level of competition for clients, has seen a big improvement in industry standards in the past decade or so.
It’s clear to see how much personal training has evolved over the last 30 or so years. And we’re excited to find out what the future holds for this innovative, ever-growing industry.