Professional Conduct

Things Your Group Fitness Instructor Won't Tell You | The Healthy

A professional is someone who is paid for completing a specialised task. The following are some general criteria for determining if one is acting in a professional manner.

The main criteria for professionals include the following:

1. Expert and specialised knowledge in a field which one is practicing professionally
2. Excellent theoretical and practical knowledge in relation to profession i.e. the standard of work is very high
3. A high standard of professional ethics, behaviour and work activities while carrying out one’s profession. Ethics and integrity need to be at the root of every single decision throughout every day. Most important, they cannot be compromised in the most challenging situations. That is when your true character shows and provides experiences on which you build your professionalism and reputation
4. Reasonable work morale and motivation. Having interest and desire to do a job well and holding a positive attitude towards the profession are important elements in attaining a high level of professionalism
5. Appropriate treatment of relationships with colleagues. Consideration should be shown to elderly, junior or inexperienced colleagues, as well as those with special needs. An example must be set to perpetuate the attitude of one’s business without doing it harm
6. A professional is an expert who is a master in a specific field
There are many factors which determine the professionalism of a fitness professional.

Below are some variables which may create either a negative or positive impression of one’s professionalism:

Professional Appearance

There is often debate as to whether a personal trainer needs to be in shape. It has to be said that a client is more likely to have confidence in a personal trainer who “looks the part” as opposed to someone who is overweight and selling weight loss packages for example. In fact, many personal trainers see their physical appearance as a sales tool and means to gain clients who want to look like them.
Appearance also pertains to:
• Hair cut – Untidy hair create an impression of sloppiness i.e. If you cannot brush your hair in the mornings, how can I trust you with managing my appearance?
• Body type – Clients looking to do bodybuilding for example, will inevitably look to do personal training with someone who looks like they know what they are talking about, based on the personal trainer’s appearance

Dress Code

Most commercial gyms have a set policy for what personal trainers wear. By creating a uniform, these gyms develop a brand standard. It is advisable to create one’s own set uniform with branding should you operate from a private facility.
Other factors which determine professionalism in the fitness industry:


Behaviour includes what the instructor does inside and outside of the gym. The fitness professional needs to realise that he/she is in fact a role model. A client seeing a personal trainer eating burger takeaway is probably unlikely to take advice from that PT when it comes to nutrition, due to what was witnessed and the perception gained.
Behaviour in the gym pertains to how one treats clients as well as fellow personal trainers. These days one all too often sees personal trainers talking on phones when training clients, or standing with arms folded, showing disinterest in the client.
Behaviour should be ethical and ensure safety of the client at all times. Avoid talking badly of other fitness professionals; this only makes clients question your integrity and trustworthiness.


A good personal trainer should be confident in one’s ability. That said, it does not mean that you can know everything. If you are asked a question and do not know the answer, rather tell your client that you will research it and provide them with the information. Make sure that you do follow up on this!

What is Motivation?

Motivation is the psychological feature that arouses an organism to action toward a desired goal and elicits, controls, and sustains certain goal directed behaviours. It can be considered a driving force, a psychological drive that compels or reinforces an action toward a desired goal. For example, hunger is a motivation that elicits a desire to eat. Motivation has been shown to have roots in physiological, behavioural, cognitive, and social areas.

  • Intrinsic Motivation

Intrinsic motivation refers to motivation that is driven by an interest or enjoyment in the task itself, and exists within the individual rather than relying on any external pressure. Intrinsic motivation is based on taking pleasure in an activity rather than working towards an external reward. Intrinsic motivation has been studied since the early 1970S. An example of intrinsic motivation in the fitness setting could be: a businessman going to gym at lunch because he enjoys the feeling that he gets from exercising.

  • Extrinsic Motivation

Extrinsic motivation refers to the performance of an activity in order to attain an outcome, which then contradicts intrinsic motivation. Extrinsic motivation comes from outside of the individual. An example of extrinsic motivation in the exercise setting would be a client who is motivated by a competition running at a gym to lose weight.
It is a common mistake for personal trainers to classify clients in terms of being either “motivated” or “unmotivated.” The real issue at stake however is actually the instructor’s ability to identify what motivates the client, and committing him/her to the programme.


Self-efficacy is the measure of one’s own ability to complete tasks and reach goals. Self-efficacy is an important concept for the personal trainer to understand as it deal with a person’s belief in his/her own capabilities to successfully take part in an exercise programme. Basically, if one does not believe that you can do an exercise class, you would have negative thoughts about the class, therefore have a negative attitude and give less effort. The opposite could be said for someone with high self-efficacy.