Solution to sedentary lifestyles
Young people represent an underdeveloped market to the fitness industry. While the recent boom in the fitness industry has attracted many adult gym goers, relatively little has been done to influence the teen market. However, in many ways, teenagers need personal trainers at least as much as adults do, if not more.
The UK has the highest rate of teenage obesity in western Europe. The main causes of teenage obesity are exactly the ones you might expect: poor diet and a lack of exercise. Video games and social networking sites are replacing physical activity for a number of teens, resulting in the kind of sedentary lifestyle that we previously only saw in adults. This is causing an increase in obesity related medical conditions, such as asthma, sleep apnoea and type 2 diabetes. Obese teenagers are likely to go on to become obese adults, and struggle with weight management throughout their lives.
Personal trainers are able to help teenagers manage their weight in a way that is fun and effective. Their training enables them to hold their clients accountable without being demotivating. Experience with nutrition and exercise helps them to take a look at a teenager’s current weight loss plan and explain why they aren’t getting the desired results.
Many teenagers quickly become disillusioned by organised sports, either as a result of failure or damaged self confidence. Teenagers that lead a sedentary lifestyle are more susceptible to depression, are more likely to have low self-esteem, and are more likely to take time off school for related reasons. Low self-esteem is often overlooked as a barrier to teenagers taking part in conventional exercise. Tackling sedentary lifestyles head on with an exercise plan leads to positive mental health outcomes for teenagers. The motivational skills of a personal trainer, as well as the mood boosting and self-esteem boosting effects of exercise more generally, mean that personal training succeeds for many teenagers who have tried and failed with other approaches to exercise.
Personal training provides teenagers, who may lack either the motivation, skill or discipline to workout at home, with a method of exercise that is free from judgement. The importance of this to teenagers who are self-conscious about their body image should not be underestimated. It opens the door to weight loss, improved fitness and can set up positive life long habits.
Improving the game of elite athletes
On the opposite end of the spectrum, another group of teenagers are hoping to take their game to the next level. These ‘elite athlete’ teenagers benefit enormously from the highly skilled, bespoke coaching that a trainer can provide. There are challenges for this group too though. This type of young sports talent needs to be nurtured and it’s vital to get the balance right with school commitments, excessive parental pressure and the risks associated with overtraining.
Qualifications to work with teenagers
Teenagers are not simply small adults, and treating them as such is a mistake. In order to tackle the obesity crisis in our teenagers, it’s important trainers who are keen to work with this specialist population are equipped with the right training and qualifications.
Teenagers that have a weight problem can quickly believe that their efforts in exercise are ‘hopeless.’ Teenagers that are elite athletes may be able to excel on the pitch, but struggle with external pressures, and can also benefit from the guidance of a trainer. That’s why a personal trainer who is working with a teenager not only needs to come up with sessions that are fun and effective, but they also need to be excellent at building relationships and empowering young people.
The goal of a personal trainer working with a teenager should not only be short-term positive physical and mental health outcomes, but also self-reliance. Working with younger people presents a unique opportunity to teach them about the importance of exercise and healthy habits from an earlier age. A personal trainer that helps a teenager to lose weight should be aiming to help them to keep it off for a lifetime, and one that helps an elite athlete should be training them to excel both on the field and off it.