Fitness Professionals and the Special Needs Client

As fitness professionals we’re blessed with the opportunity of helping a lot of different people day to day.
It’s one of the main reasons so many of us get into this field, right? To help people. It’s a rewarding way
to spend one’s life.Whether you went to school and got a formal degree in this field, or obtained a certification, there are plenty of things you should be doing to continue your education. Why? Because we don’t handle one small slice of the population. We work with athletes, couch potatoes, accident victims, and thousands of others in different situations.There’s the “typical client,” and then there is the “special needs” client, and oftentimes those new to the
fitness professional field are horribly unprepared for these special clients.We all know who a “typical client” is. But what about a “special needs” client? How do we handle them?
Special needs clients are those who have risk factors above and beyond those of a typical client. They have plenty of variables that must be taken into consideration during their treatment, and many times fitness professionals aren’t prepared for them. These factors include hypertension, heart attack risk, diabetes, and thousands of other conditions that we may or may not know about.Fortunately there are plenty of additional certifications we can obtain that will help us better understand and treat our special needs clients.One certification is the Clinical Exercise Specialist (CES) from the American Council on Exercise. This
advanced personal trainer certification will help you work with special populations. You must have 300 hours of work experience designing and implement exercise programs, as well as a four-year degree in exercise science.There is also the Medical Exercise Specialist (MES) from the American Academy of Health, Fitness, and Rehabilitation Professionals (AAHFRP). If you’d like to know more about anatomy, biomechanics, post-rehab protocols, or screening/assessment techniques, then this certification would be an asset for you. You must be a certified personal trainer to sit for this exam.The ACSM Exercise Specialist from the American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM) is a great certification if you’d like to know more about training clients with cardiovascular, pulmonary, or metabolic diseases.These are only three options for you to consider. There are many more that would increase your knowledge and skill set when working with your special needs clients. Any further education you commit yourself to can only help you do your job better, and help you to be better prepared for any eventuality that might come up in your day-to-day work with your atypical clients.(C) 2007 Anthony Carey, Function First