What a Personal Coach Can (and Can’t) Do

Especially in VieWorldwide demand for health and fitness is at an all-time high. People are becoming increasingly more interested in their well-being, and educated on the benefits of living a healthy, balanced lifestyle. Naturally, the personal coaching industry must adapt and grow as well- as consumers become more knowledgeable, coaches must find new ways to satisfy their clients. Unfortunately, this leads to many coaches stepping outside of their scope of practice, or the care they are licensed and able to provide. 

This article is written by a coach with the aim of teaching you exactly what a coach can and can’t do to improve your health and wellness. Hopefully, it is enough to help you make an informed decision about selecting a personal coach or evaluating the one that you currently have.

1. Medical Illnesses and Injuries / Chronic Pain

NOT within a coach’s scope: Diagnose and treat medical illnesses

Of course, we are not able to tell you if you have cancer, diabetes or other severe clinical diseases. However, it might seem reasonable that a coach could evaluate you for a sports or lifestyle injury- but sadly, this is not the case. Often, true injuries and the source of chronic pain can only be diagnosed by a licensed physician, usually with equipment like an MRI or X-Ray.

 Within a coach’s scope: Evaluate posture, design exercise plans, and work closely with a physician when necessary 

A good coach is able to evaluate tight and underactive muscles by doing simple movement assessments. The vast majority of chronic pain present in people today is due to prolonged periods of sitting while working or studying. A coach will be able design a strengthening and stretching program which helps to overcome pain due to a sedentary lifestyle. In cases like injury or genetic imbalances like scoliosis, we can refer to a licensed physician to treat the source of pain, and then work closely with the physician to execute a prescribed exercise program. Upfit partners with the highly reputable American Chiropractic Clinic for these cases (website: acc.vn) 


2.Nutrition Related Illnesses/Eating Disorders

NOT within a coach’s scope: Prescribe treatment for nutrition related illnesses and eating disorders

Food related illnesses, such as type-II diabetes and high cholesterol/heart disease, are extremely common. Due to the complicated and serious nature of these illnesses, coaches are unable to prescribe nutrition plans that treat them. These can only be diagnosed and treated by a licensed physician or dietician. The same goes for psychological eating disorders, such as bulimia and anorexia. It is also not within our scope to recommend you stop taking any medication without the consent of your physician. 

Within a coach’s scope: Suggest healthy eating habits and educate clients on clean food choices’

While a physician might be able to prescribe nutritional treatment, a coach is somebody who stands by your side and holds you accountable to a great change like your food choices and schedule. Your coach can help to teach you about proper portion control, how to find fresh, whole foods, and how to plan out when are good times for you to eat your meals to maximize energy. While coaches can’t treat chronic illnesses, they can guide you through lifestyle changes that can help you feel better, look better and move towards an ideal weight for overall health and longevity. Most importantly, a coach provides the personal touch necessary to help make healthy eating reasonable and sustainable.



NOT within a coach’s scope: prescribe performance enhancement supplementation

 Obviously, a coach cannot and should never suggest you try and potentially dangerous performance enhancement supplement like steroids or human growth hormone. Any supplement that is potentially dangerous or requires a doctor’s prescription cannot be recommended by a personal trainer. That also includes any over-the-counter supplement that requires the express consent of a doctor before using. Any coach that provides you with illegal supplementation is potentially putting you in danger.


Within a coach’s scope: Educate you on the effects of over-the-counter supplements

 A coach can guide you through how to select over-the-counter supplements, like whey protein, vitamins, or amino acids, as long as you have no underlying conditions and the consent of your physician. Many coaches have used a wide range of wellness-related supplementation to help with recovery, supplement nutrition for an active lifestyle, and improve bodily functions. In this way, a coach can provide experience that you can use to make an informed decision along with your physician.

4.Mental Illness

NOT within a coach’s scope: Diagnose and treat mental illnesses

 Although we often act as sounding boards to our clients, and you may feel sometimes as if your personal trainer is acting as your therapist, it’s important to note that we are not clinical psychologists or psychiatrists. If you have a serious mental condition like severe depression, paranoia, bipolar disorder, etc., please consult a licensed therapist to guide you. 


Within a coach’s scope: Provide a positive outlet for negative thoughts and emotions 

 One of the greatest benefits of exercise is that it is a great way to forget about the troubles and stresses that might be in your daily life. A common recommendation from therapists is to get some exercise- problems have a funny way of shrinking away when you’re 45 minutes into a great workout and focusing on how you’re going to complete your next set of back squats. A good workout releases “feel-good” chemicals, like endorphins and dopamine, which are proven to improve your mood. Exercise also helps to build your self-esteem, which is a fantastic way to overcome your mental challenges. Another benefit of working out with a coach is that it provides you with a positive social outlet; sometimes all you need is somebody to listen, and the ability to listen and understand is the most important quality for any good personal coach.

So, there you have it. To put it simply, coaches can’t provide any kind of true clinical diagnoses or prescriptions regarding any injury or illness. However, a great coach knows how to write a great exercise plan, guide you on healthy food and lifestyle nutritions, provide social support, and how to refer you to a licensed physician when necessary. 


    While we can’t treat your chronic illnesses, I will leave you with some of the benefits of balanced nutrition and regular exercise: 

  • Weight management
  • Reduce the risk of heart attack, stroke and poor lifestyle related illnesses
  • Improve mood, focus and energy
  • Strengthen muscles and improve bone/joint density
  • Help prevent injury


    Stay healthy, and stay informed!


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