Personal trainers are well placed to provide basic nutrition care in line with national dietary guidelines. However, many personal trainers provide nutrition care beyond their scope of practice and this has been identified as a major industry risk due to a perceived lack of competence in nutrition. This paper explores the context in which personal trainers provide nutrition care, by understanding personal trainers’ perceptions of nutrition care in relation to their role and scope of practice. Semistructured telephone interviews were conducted with 15 personal trainers working within Australia. Thematic analysis was used to identify key themes. All personal trainers reported to provide nutrition care and reported that nutrition care was an important component of their role. Despite this, many were unaware or uncertain of the scope of practice for personal trainers. Some personal trainers reported a gap between the nutrition knowledge they received in their formal education, and the knowledge they needed to optimally support their clients to adopt healthy dietary behaviors. Overall, the personal training context is likely to be conducive to providing nutrition care. Despite concerns about competence personal trainers have not modified their nutrition care practices. To ensure personal trainers provide nutrition care in a safe and effective manner, greater enforcement of the scope of practice is required as well as clear nutrition competencies or standards to be developed during training.
The authors are with the School of Allied Health Sciences, Griffith University, Gold Coast Campus, Southport, Australia.