Adding Nutrition Into Your Personal Training

You know that your clients can’t out train their diet. No matter how good your workouts are, if they don’t also make changes outside of the gym they aren’t going to hit their goals.

How do you go about adding nutrition conversations into your personal training sessions? In the warm up when they’re not out of breath yet, in between sets while they’re catching their breath, or maybe during the cool down at the end?

My opinion, none of the above. Nutrition conversation doesn’t belong in personal training sessions.

Nutrition conversations can often times be uncomfortable and demotivating for the person dishing about every bad food choice they’ve made in the past week. A workout should build your client up – get them outside their comfort zone, push their physical limits, boost their confidence and pump some endorphins through their veins. Why put a damper on that with nutrition talk?

If they’re in the midst of a workout, odds are they will not be absorbing any of the great nutrition advice you could be offering anyway. So no matter what you’re telling them, no matter how helpful it is, it probably won’t be comprehended and definitely not put into practice after your session.

How then are you supposed to help them in kitchen when your only time together is in the gym? Try these 3 methods to get your clients eating right and helping them with their food.

  1. Schedule separate nutrition sessions. Having a different time and even place for a nutrition coaching conversation will set a tone that’s different than that of your workouts. You will be able to have a deeper conversation, get more information from your client and provide advice they can put into action.

  2. Coach online or by phone. Nutrition coaching is great because it doesn’t have to be in person. This gives you more time to prepare for your communication and your client may feel more comfortable being honest about their eating if it’s not face-to-face. You can even block time to do this for all of your clients where it easily fits into your schedule.

  3. Refer out to a nutrition coach or registered dietitian. You may not feel comfortable being the person who does the nutrition coaching for your client, and that’s ok. Refer out to a nutrition professional who might be a better option to help your clients with that part.

Nutrition coaching is going to add on more time to your schedule, so how do you go about getting compensated for that? You can take one of several methods for this:

  1. Bill for nutrition coaching separately. Especially if you are a Certified Nutrition Coach, seeing your nutrition coaching as a separate service you offer will make it easier to get compensated. You may have clients that choose to opt into this service with their personal training or even some people who don’t want to personal train but do want nutrition coaching.

  2. Consider it part of your established session prices. If you are working for yourself and have the flexibility to decide your own session prices, create the price knowing that you will be spending time with nutrition coaching outside of your sessions. Now you’re selling a solution to their health and fitness and not just sessions. This can also help you sell your services since your customers know they’re getting more from you than just your time in the gym.

  3. See it as an investment. If you don’t have the authority to change your personal training prices, nutrition coaching may be something you do for free for you clients. Know that it doesn’t have to take more than 15-20 minutes a week, so it’s not a huge time constraint on you. You are probably communicating with your clients outside of session anyways, now it just has a more dedicated focus. See these conversations as an investment in your clients and your business. If you help them eat right, they’ll probably see faster results and refer more clients your way.

Remember, as a Personal Trainer you have to stay within your scope of practice, you are not a Dietitian. That means you cannot write meal plans, but you can help them come up with their own based on healthy food choices. You cannot offer advice about “medical nutrition therapy” or eating to cure an illness/disease, in these cases you should definitely refer out to a medical professional. You cannot give specific supplement advice, but you can educate your clients on various supplements and recommend which ones you prefer over others. To be safe, nothing you say should sound like you’re prescribing anything – not a certain diet, not any food, and not supplements.

You know that eating is just as (if not more so) important than exercise, so as a personal trainer you have to decide how nutrition advice comes in to play for your own business and clients.

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