Personal trainers need to build a unique identity to stay one step ahead of the competition in an “industry that is becoming saturated”, according to a Sunderland academic.
Morc Coulson, a senior lecturer at the University of Sunderland, has been involved in the health and fitness industry for the past 20 years, but says the market has become so overcrowded that personal trainers must have a specialism and ensure they upskill their CV through continued professional development.
He makes the recommendations as part of an updated version of his handbook for personal trainers, the 10th book in his Complete Guide Series, a culmination of his knowledge in the area of Health & Fitness, which have become key texts for many students and institutions around the UK and overseas.
Morc says: “I wrote my first guide to personal training five years ago, but because knowledge in health and fitness areas and trends have shifted rapidly I needed to reflect the changes in national occupational standards. We are talking about trends such as HIIT (High Intensity Interval Training), boot camps, suspension training and kettlebells.
“Health and fitness is now provided as a service and most personal trainers are self-employed so I have tried to build a portrait of everything that’s needed as a personal trainer, and that includes creating an identity, as without that you are just one of the thousands of trainers struggling to get clients.
They need to focus on specialist areas that will make them stand out, that could be anything from older clients to those with specific health conditions.”
He added: “A lot of personal trainers are already adding additional qualifications such as sports therapy and sport massage to their CV, hopefully the Complete Guide will help them find that edge. This is something we also teach our students, it’s a core text that can provide a stepping stone that gives them that extra continued professional development in a highly competitive industry.”
A number of graduates from Sunderland’s sports, coaching and exercise science programmes have gone on to become outstanding personal trainers rising to the very top of their career.
They include: Dr Stephen McGregor, who has been credited with transforming the elite end of sport ranging from professional golf to Premiership football, and was a graduate of the first cohort of the Sport and Exercise Sciences department at Sunderland in 1995 and has since gone on to an incredible career.
He has been credited with transforming the fitness regimes of golfers Rory McIlroy and Lee Westwood, and was amongst the first practitioners to introduce sports science to professional football in England at Leeds United, Aston Villa and Manchester City. He’s also been working with the Lawn Tennis Association to help shape the future of British tennis
Mum Siobhan Walker, who graduated last year with a First Class degree in Sports and Exercise Sciences has begun her career as Personal Advisor to professional racing driver Reece Barr. She landed the role while still studying at Sunderland after Reece, who competes in the JCW BMW mini series, approached the University’s Sport Sciences team to help support him with his fitness, stamina and concentration.
Academics immediately turned to Siobhan, as they recognised that her expertise in personal training and sports massage, and her studies in sports nutrition, would be an ideal fit for the young driver’s fitness needs.
Jonathon Riall, a 2005 BSc Sport & Exercise Development graduate, has gone on to become Team GB’s head coach for the Paratriathlon team, which competed for the first time in Rio in 2016. Jonathon’s work with British triathlon has seen progressive developments to that sport and led to fundamental changes in the way people with disabilities can now access triathlon through the Para-tri movement.
The Complete Guide to Personal Trainers is endorsed by REPS (Register of Exercise Professionals), the largest independent public register for the Health and Fitness Industry in the UK.
Morc sits on the PD:Approval endorsement panel which quality assures CPD training for industry professionals.