Australia’s fitness industry is booming but is too much pressure being heaped on personal trainers who are expected to know everything about nutrition?

Is the pressure to provide advice on individualised nutrition too far outside their scope of practice with the result that people are receiving inaccurate advice?

These are the issues being explored by new Griffith University research.

“Nutrition advice in line with the national dietary guidelines is an important aspect of personal training services. However, previous research has highlighted that many personal trainers provide nutrition advice outside of their scope of practice to meet client expectations and demands, such as providing individualised meal plans or advice about supplementation,” says researcher Bettina Beach from Griffith’s Menzies Health Institute Queensland.

“Clearly, this area needs attention, as not all personal trainers are working within their scope of practice. Clarity about which services can be provided is paramount and in the best interest of clients who may not be getting good advice.”

To improve the understanding of the performance pressures, Ms. Beach is conducting a study exploring clients’ expectations and experiences of the nutrition advice delivered by their personal trainers.

“We are aiming to uncover what clients actually expect from their trainer. From this, we might be able to provide both clients and personal trainers with an appropriate amount of support.

“We want to hear from people who have, or would consider, seeking the assistance of a personal trainer. Hopefully the results from this study will help to open up a conversation between clients and their trainers about the type, and quantity of nutrition advice people really want and need.

“We know that personal trainers are an important part of helping people to get fit and healthy, and we want them to be able to provide the most accurate nutrition advice that they can offer,” says Bettina.

Bettina is asking anyone over the age of 16 to complete their online survey and you don’t need to be a client of a personal trainer to complete it. The survey link can be found here:

“I am hoping that the information gathered from this study may help to clearly define roles and expectations of personal trainers, and assist in the development of nutrition-related tools for both personal trainers and clients,” says Bettina.

“We cop a lot of pressure to design eating plans for clients and it’s tough, especially when I say I can’t and then some other personal trainer down the road has drawn up extensive eating plans,” says Scott Campbell, a personal trainer from Sydney.

Experienced Gold Coast personal trainer Chris Bragg agrees. “I feel as if clients expect a level of dietary knowledge to be included as a part of a personal training package, it is common for advice on a diet to be a topic of conversation. Although many clients want the lot – diet plan, exercise plan, organise my life plan, they look at the personal trainer as the answer to all their health and wellbeing needs.”