Massage Today Get the Latest News FASTER - View Digital Editions Now!
Massage Today dotted line
dotted line

dotted line
Share |
  Forward PDF Version  

Treatment Tools

By Debbie Roberts, LMT

About the Columnist
Other Articles

The Holistic Personal Trainer & You

You will discover how a massage therapist is the perfect fit for the future of personal training. Research suggests that musculoskeletal pain is more common now than it was 40 years ago. This information is one of the reasons that with the education a massage therapist already receives about pain, fascia, and the muscular system the transition into becoming a holistic personal trainer are really quite easy.

Recently while teaching at the Florida State Massage Therapy Convention I was so inspired by the massage therapist that attended. With varied backgrounds and no previous experience with personal training each of them embraced the information with an open mind and an open heart.

We discussed how now more than ever the timing is perfect to add personal training information to their tool box of tools right next to their myofascial release. Every day we help people with their health care needs through our expertise as holistic practitioners and that is the direction of the future personal trainer.

With the ever changing climate of limited health care and insurance changes people are seeking out alternative methods to change their chronic pain.  Out of this reality the need has grown for a more holistic personal trainer to bridge the gap where allopathic methods end.

CHANGE THE IMAGE

What images come to your mind when you think of personal training?  Super fit might be one of them, but the truth these days just like massage therapist, there is someone for everyone.  There are personal trainers who are moms seeking out other moms, like you see with the organization Fit4Mom, the home of Stroller Striders.

What other images come to your mind? Big muscles and bodybuilding well how about a personal trainer whose self discovery came from a car accident and the only relief was from Yoga.  So now their focus is using Yoga to help their clients with chronic low back pain.

For just a moment imagine yourself as a personal trainer. What kind of personal trainer would you want to become?  Which clients would you want to help?   The answer is right in front of you, it is the clients you already treat and attract.  These clients have specific needs and these clients already trust you thus adding some exercise science to your bag of tools will help you move them beyond the table and back into function.

The FITNESS BUSINESS

Fitness is really in its infancy stage as a business. According to the National Academy of Sports Medicine the fitness industry has only recently recognized the trend toward nonfunctional living. Just like in massage therapy we are seeing more and more clients being molded by their chairs and becoming further deconditioned.

Clients are working in offices, having longer work hours, and are moving less on a daily basis. This has lead to more structural imbalances, hip replacements, knee replacements, low back pain and other chronic diseases.

Many of today's clients are not ready to begin physical fitness at the same level as clients could 20 years ago. Therefore, the fitness programs needed for today's clients are not the same as in the past.

There is a real necessity to know how to either progress or digress the client safely, how to take a proper biomechanical assessment, and be empathic to their current state of health. You want to help clients achieve more by helping them believe in themselves and think baby steps.

Fitness training used to be considered a luxury, but for many clients dealing with Parkinson's, Post-strokes, Multiple Sclerosis, Diabetic Neuropathy and more it has become a necessity.

HOLISTIC PERSONAL FITNESS

In reality what does the term Holistic Personal Trainer mean? It means you have studied anatomy and physiology, stress management, relaxation techniques, spirituality in healing, exercise science, nutrition,  program design, cardiorespiratory training, flexibility, balance, strength training, and that's just to name a few categories.

According to the New York Times, holistic fitness includes activities such as tai chi, yoga, and Pilates (www.nytimes.com). The goals of a holistic personal trainer are not to become an expert at helping someone increase their running miles or develop the strength to become an Olympic lifter.

The devotees of holistic personal fitness believe in holism. Holism states that health is best obtained when everything is considered, as opposed to just the symptoms of a particular issue. As you can see with your massage therapy background you are more than half way there.

Although the concept of Holistic Personal Fitness is somewhat new there are certification programs available.  According to Learn.org there are opportunities for certification through the Certified Holistic Fitness Practitioner program offered by the Spencer Institute, a partner of the National Exercise and Sports Trainers Association.

However, when you combine your Massage Therapy background and a Personal Training Certification you will have achieved the knowledge recommended for becoming a Holistic Personal Trainer. Like any license or certification there are boundaries to live by. First you have to check with your state to see what insurance is required for each. There are insurance companies out there that provide both massage therapy insurance along with personal trainers insurance.

Keep your massage therapy hat on when doing massage and keep your personal training hat on when doing personal training. Charge separately, half-hour massage and half-hour personal training.  Keep good documentation notes for each profession to keep the lines clear. Simple rule don't diagnose anything leave that for the medical professionals. Even in fitness we must wait for the client to be released from their physical therapist, doctor, or chiropractor before beginning a program.

By changing your image of personal training nothing should hold you back from taking another leap in your massage therapy career. I believe just like when you learned your first modality with practice your proficiency developed and with practice your personal training skills will also grow. With this new understanding you add another dimension to your already existing practice.

dotted line