The importance of knowing your practice is to be able to understand what you can and can’t do within your job, and what you are qualified for. For example, I’ve heard of personal trainers doing spinal manipulations within a gym setting; this is definitely something that should be done by a chiropractor with years of experience.
Understanding the role you play in someone’s health and fitness can go a long way in making sure your reputation stays intact, and also in making sure your clients get the best service and knowledge applied to their training, nutrition or body care.
Something I always refer to is a continuum for roles within a fitness centre or gym facility:
Writes general programming for clients and usually includes a first time show-through, corrects technique if on the floor, performs general gym duties (putting weights away), and assists members as needed.
Writes specific programs for clients according to their goals and implements these in a 1-on-1 training setting, with regular personal training sessions. This can also include nutritional advice, regular program adjustments and body composition measurements.
Strength and Conditioning Coach:
Implements performance-based strength and conditioning programs for clients and/or athletes. This can be in a team setting, or an individual setting where a large portion of your clients are performance-based athletes.
This can be a consultant to a group of personal trainers, or a fitness director who oversees the whole personal training program for a gym or training facility.
Knowing which category you fall into gives you a clear idea of what your roles are, and what your daily activities will include. Having a fancy name in your instagram bio may look cool - but knowing how to perform your role is even more important.
All of the aforementioned roles play an integral part within the fitness industry and everyone will have certain roles they gravitate towards. Qualifications can vary as most personal training roles only require you to have a relevant certification, whereas strength and conditioning roles either require you to have a degree in the relevant field or an accredited strength and conditioning certificate.
Knowing your scope of practice is also extremely important to avoid any confusion or possible mishaps, in the case that you offer advice out of your scope of practice and something goes wrong. It also highlights the importance of knowing when and how to refer out to other professionals you think the client can benefit from. By networking and creating a great relationship with other professionals, you can build a system where you both refer each other clients for your area of expertise.