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Preventative Medicine Vs. Reactive Medicine and the Personal Trainers Role

by Jonathan Goodman | Follow on Twitter

Personal trainers are pertinent to preventative care and could decrease health care costs by billions of dollars/year worldwide.

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Spread the word, Personal Training is Prevention

“An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure”

“Use it or lose it”

“Exercise is Medicine”

Somehow these common sense sayings have yet to translate into medical professionals and their patients busting down personal trainer’s doors. There is only one reason for this delay, people must not understand that exercise is the primary prevention tool, and it is also the primary modality of personal trainers!

So, where do we start? How do we bridge this gap? The following will give you some steps and resources to take this weakness in our industry and make it an opportunity for all of us.

Step 1: Give a shit, and share that enthusiasm

If you’re like me you got into the health and fitness industry to make a difference in the health, happiness and performance of people- in large part because we ourselves have found the magic in moving regularly and with intensity and have the burning desire to share that magic. Dr. Mike Evans does a great job at detailing the benefits of giving a shit about your health for just 30 minutes per day in case you run into someone who doesn’t already know in the video below

Find opportunities to spread the word of exercise and prevention, sharing is caring afterall.

Step 2: Identify who you want to help

If you want to position yourself as a prevention specialist you have to make some decisions about what population you want to work with. Prevention can be as broad as reducing all-cause mortality and musculoskeletal injury (MSI), to more specific secondary prevention of the recurrence of cancer, or cardiovascular events all the way to reducing the number and severity of painful sites in fibromyalgia sufferers or the improving the functional scoring of a Parkinson Disease patient.

Once you’ve identified the population you want to work with, find out where they are physically and digitally (as exampled in the links throughout this article) and what resources and language is being used presently and reach out!

Options to connect include attending education sessions relevant to the population you service, seek opportunities with local groups to speak and share your story and goals and in general get involved in the discussion.

Step 3: Provide relevant services

Once you’ve found your niche and identified the gatekeepers and the language required, ensure you have a relevant and realistic assessment process to support them and you with enough information to make appropriate recommendations and training programs.

This requires an understanding of industry standards for testing and assessing and an ability to move through the research to find interventions and concepts that will make a difference. If you plan on training clients with special needs, do a Google search for their professional association and get in touch.

One quick phone call or email should be enough for you to obtain all of the appropriate scales and measures that they use to measure their patients. It’s your responsibility to find out these relevant services and use them to monitor your client.

Step 4: Stay Current

New data comes out all the time, set Google alerts and Medscape alerts for the topics of interest to you and let your clients and your network know what you’re up to by sharing what you’ve learned via direct messages or social media posting… again, sharing is caring!


Act professionally, record-keep professionally (SOAP notes are the medical standard and will help you learn much more about your client) and you should feel no intimidation speaking with a doctor or any other member of your clients circle of care. Jon Goodman and physical therapist Mike Reinold wrote a piece on collaboration that’s a must read. Click here to open it in a new window to read after.

Put Your Heart In It…

…Your goal is to change lives, change the world, help people enjoy life to its fullest. Have this passion firmly rooted and the rest is just back-up material, but have a handle on it, because we need excellent professionals to spread the word!

photo credit: Matthew Kenwrick

About the Author
Jonathan Goodman

Jonathan Goodman is the creator and head coach of the PTDC and has a distaste for third person bios ... Hey, I'm Jon and I'd have to say that this site is pretty awesome. Thanks for being here. If you're interested in my brand new book, it's called Ignite the Fire (revised, updated, and expanded). My team and I have also created the first Academy and certification for online trainers. Click here to check out the Online Trainer Academy.