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Reflections on fitness, wellness, health and more

Do we need a Code of Conduct for PTs?

The following post was written by Meredith Julliard, a personal trainer, coordinator and group exercise instructor.

I have worked in the fitness industry for the last 16 years and have had the privilege of helping hundreds of people reach significant fitness, health and, more importantly, personal growth goals.


I recently started studying for a diploma in pastoral care and counselling after I realised the huge responsibility we have as PTs. Clients are looking for far more than good squat technique or weight loss strategies – they are trusting us with many and varied aspects of their total wellness. I have had clients with food addictions who have trusted me with this information and are looking for support and guidance to break this negative behavioural pattern.


In our PT tool box we need to have systems, strategies and referral plans to assist our clients in the best way we can because, in many cases, it is not their GP that they are sharing this information with, it is us. This begs the question; how professional are we really in dealing with clients beyond the gym floor?


I believe that most trainers have great intentions. We tend to be empathetic by nature, with a strong desire to help people. However, we may find ourselves out of our depth and lacking the knowledge, experience or resources to adequately assist our clients in every aspect of their needs.


Most professions have a code of conduct to adhere to and specific education programs to assist in client handling. Isn’t it time to develop a training syllabus to support and educate PTs and a Code of Conduct to operate under? I believe this would give us more credibility among other health professionals as well as greater influence with our clientele.


A Code of Conduct could cover such areas as:

  • Client confidentiality and client records
  • Appropriate and inappropriate behaviours in our dealings with clients
  • Ethics.


It could also establish some rules such as:

  • Trainers should not exploit their clients financially, sexually or emotionally.
  • Trainers should not offer advice outside that required in the physical training session.
  • Trainers should know their level of competency and operate within it.
  • Trainers should not play on client ignorance to sell other products or services.
  • Clients should always be made to feel safe and understood by their trainer.
  • Trainers should work alongside other health professionals when necessary.


As I see it, a Code could be used to teach and showcase to trainers the very real concerns and responsibilities we face in our industry. This code of conduct could co-exist with the existing Fitness Australia Code of Conduct which was set up to standardise the industry and protect consumer rights.


Do you feel that entry level training and continuing education in this area would help PTs develop and refine the basic skills needed to interact and support a cross section of client needs? What do you think about having a specific Code of Conduct to assist us as an industry by establishing a benchmark in client care?

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Posted by: Adriana Neumeyer | 11-Jul-2011 01:32 PM | 5 out of 5 stars

Very insightful, love the idea!

Posted by: Amanda Wilson | 11-Jul-2011 03:17 PM | 5 out of 5 stars

Very good idea, I think most PTs that love what they do would already adhere to most of this, but it would be great to have it across the board.. Good stuff Meresy

Posted by: Scott | 11-Jul-2011 05:14 PM | 5 out of 5 stars

I think it is a great idea. I think a lot of trainers out their take on more than they can handle, especially on the emotional side of things. Great article.

Posted by: Wendy Watkins | 11-Jul-2011 07:06 PM | 5 out of 5 stars

Fantastic idea!

Posted by: April Adsett | 19-Jul-2011 07:01 AM | 3 out of 5 stars

Someone who needs to be told not to exploit someone is not going to change their ways because there is a code of conduct. This used to be called common decency and is indicative of our increasingly over regulated over goverened society. During my training
I was continually told not to reach beyond my area of expertise and knowledge and if in doubt - referral to the appropriate professional. This is not a personal attack on the author - but realistically written codes won't prevent the exploitation of people
by unsrupulous trainers.

Posted by: Brendan Rigby | 26-Jul-2011 04:43 PM | 5 out of 5 stars

Yes - Personal Trainers should have a code of conduct to guide and govern the fitness industry. This I see as further strengthening the professionalism within the industry. Brendan Rigby
Inspire Fitness for Wellbeing

Posted by: Ms Julie Forsyth | 13-Aug-2011 12:14 PM |

Well by definition Professionals adhere to a Code of Conduct. If you saw how many Personal Trainers farm their clients & charge money to be someones friend youd be horrified. these fitness leaders are not subject to any government regulation. After dealing
with people in Fitness & pain relationships for 25 years now I have the right to an opinion. Every other person in the priviedged role of touching & advising others in physical matters adheres to government regulation. It is time fitness leaders have these
regulations. let the greedy be expelled.Exercise Specialist.

Posted by: Josh | 20-Sep-2011 01:53 PM | 5 out of 5 stars

I think this code of conduct that you have mentioned goes without saying doesn't it? I know from my own personal experiences and from my fellow trainers that we all follow the codes and rules that you have just mentioned. Also i like the way that you mention
how clients trust us with their diet and nutrition more than their own family GP's. This is true for many of our
boot camp clients, they leave big responsibility in our hands,