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A personal trainer is an individual certified to have a varying degree of knowledge of general fitness involved in exercise prescription and instruction. They motivate clients by setting goals and providing feedback and accountability to clients. Trainers also measure their client's strengths and weaknesses with fitness assessments. These fitness assessments may also be performed before and after an exercise program to measure their client's improvements in physical fitness. They may also educate their clients in many other aspects of wellness besides exercise, including general health and nutrition guidelines.
Qualified personal trainers recognize their own areas of expertise. If a trainer suspects that one of his or her clients has a medical condition that could prevent the client from safe participation in an exercise program, they must refer the client to the proper health professional for prior clearance.
The scope of practice for a personal trainer is to enhance the components of fitness for the general, healthy population.
Proper exercise prescription may result in improved body composition, physical performance, heart condition and health outcomes. The decision to hire a trainer may be related to a perceived ability to facilitate these factors through proper prescription and instruction or factors related to motivation and adherence. A trainer pays close attention to their client's exercise form, workout routine, and nutrition plan.
Few studies have investigated training for men, however, training in women has been shown to exercise behaviour patterns, improve perceptual benefit-to-concern ratio for exercise (decisional balance), and increase confidence to choose exercise in the face of other time demands (scheduling self-efficacy).Personal training results in higher strength, higher workout intensities, and higher perceived exertion during exercise in women. Although women working with personal trainers do self-select heavier loads than women who did not, the loads used are still below recommended training load percentages.
The profession is generally not restricted by the venue, and personal trainers may work in fitness facilities, in their personal homes, in client homes, over live video (also called "virtual personal trainers") or outdoors. Almost all personal trainers and group exercise instructors work in physical fitness facilities, health clubs, and fitness centres located in the amusement and recreation industry or in civic and social organizations. In Malta, there is no regulation that covers the profession of personal training but clients tend to check on the qualifications of the personal trainer before they contract one. Normally personal trainers hold at least a level 4 (MQF) qualification in personal training.
Personal trainers may specialize in a certain training type, training philosophy, performance type, exercise modality, or client population. In general, most personal trainers develop exercise prescription plans for aerobic exercise, resistance exercise, and/or flexibility training. With aerobic exercise prescription, personal trainers determine the type of exercise, duration of exercise, and frequency of exercise. For resistance exercise prescription, the type of exercise, total session volume, rest period, frequency, and intensity are determined. Personal trainers may also be involved in the prescription of stretching routines or other approaches. While some discuss nutrition, ergogenic supplementation, and spiritual practices with clients, there is a debate within the industry as to whether it fits within their scope of practice and training qualifications.