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Personal Trainer or Preventative Health Coach?

A story on the state of health care from a doctor in the trenches and how fitness professionals can change the world. Let me ask you a question: If I were to give you one million dollars and 100 individuals over the age of 35, could you keep them healthy, and relatively free of diabetes […]

Written By Bryan Smith

On February 25, 2020

Dedicated wellness expertise each step of the way.

A story on the state of health care from a doctor in the trenches and how fitness professionals can change the world.


Let me ask you a question:

If I were to give you one million dollars and 100 individuals over the age of 35, could you keep them healthy, and relatively free of diabetes and obesity for the next 20 years?

· Could you prevent type 2 diabetes?

· What about obesity?

· And reduce stress?

· And fix sleep patterns?

· And change the way people eat?

I think you could. I think you could do every bit of it!

How we look at ourselves as trainers is an important distinction of what is possible in our industry. We are not just “good workout givers”, we are not “functional training specialists”.

We are an extension of the medical field which is struggling to reign in the ever expanding cost of healthcare in the United States.

So I ask you, why are you selling “deep squat correctives” and the ability to “crawl” so hard, when your client has a BMI of 36, they can’t walk up the stairs without huffing and puffing, and is pre-diabetic?

The health of our clients is the number one factor here. For the general non athlete client; amazing movement variability, a 2x body weight deadlift and looking great in the mirror are by products of being healthy.

And listen, I’m not discounting these goals or the value of the deep squat assessment. I understand the importance of stress adaptations via corrective movement interventions such as PRI and FMS. And how high levels of strength relate back to decreased mortality rates in older populations.

All I’m suggesting, is that sometimes we need to change the conversation a bit, and focus on the big picture.


Let’s take a look at the numbers:

As of 2016, the total healthcare spend in the US is roughly 3.2 trillion dollars, with completely preventable diseases such as obesity and type 2 diabetes accounting for almost 750 billion of that spend.

That’s 25% of our countries annual healthcare cost, relegated to a set of diseases that are 100% preventable by exercise, behavioral change and nutritional interventions.

That is absolutely insane and not sustainable.


We asked Dr. Sagar Parikh, an Interventional Pain Medicine Specialist who is Board Certified in Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation and Pain Medicine his thoughts on this matter:

“Let me be blunt. We need help! The “we” in this statement is all of us. Collectively speaking: the general population. And what we need help in is our Health and Wellbeing. As a physician, I spend the majority of my time treating various injuries and diseases. Modern medicine benefits from remarkable advancements in treatment strategies that help us swoop in and save the day in the most dire situations. For example, we now have higher survival rates after stroke or heart attack than decades prior and our knowledge of disease pathologies have never been better. I do feel honored to be able to treat my patients when they’re looking for hope and guidance.

What I long most for however is an aspect of medicine that is embedded deep within the Hippocratic Oath: The notion that “prevention” is preferable to “cure”.

The goal of Preventive Medicine is “to protect, promote, and maintain health and well-being and prevent disease, disability, and [premature] death” (credit: www.acpm.org).

Don’t get me wrong, there is most certainly an increase in interest in preventive medicine over the past decade, but I can’t say with confidence that we as a population are in fact healthier. Not yet at least. Our nation is faced with a number of health crises. Obesity is on the rise, the prevalence of diabetes is increasing, and our nation is suffering from a chronic pain and opioid crisis (to list a few….).

We need to figure out a way to be healthier. Simply seeing a physician when problems arise is not enough. We need to figure out new ways to guide and motivate ourselves to lead healthier lives and make healthier choices, but with the constant stress demands of life that we face daily, how do we do it?. This is where I see trainers and other wellness professionals really being of value to the medical industry. It’s time we start brining those professionals into the fold, and join the conversation of preventable health.”

So what can I do as a trainer to help increase awareness in preventable healthcare?

Step 1: Develop an assessment process that accounts for not just movement or fitness. Look at genetics, look at lifestyle and understand the risk factors associated with heart disease and diabetes. (or you can request beta access to the LEON Fit assessment below) But more importantly, it doesn’t matter the platform, just start gathering data and educating your clients.

Step 2: Train your clients inside and outside the gym. There is a huge financial opportunity in managing your clients lifestyle. Implement a team slack channel for daily communication. Start tracking daily activity via wearables or Apple Health. Utilize blood or genetic testing service like Inside Tracker or 23 and Me.

Step 3: Connect with a forward thinking medical professional, like Dr. Parikh in your area. Develop a referral program and help them understand the value in your services.

Step 4: Go after corporate wellness business. Incentivized fitness is a huge industry and companies are motivated to increase the health of their employees. Resources are abundant, and the support is there on a company level.

Step 4: Understand that you are a necessary part in this conversation. We are the first line of defense in our nations health, and it’s time we act like it.

I really hope this helps you in understanding that our current situation is un manageable, and it is mandatory that we drive change. Thank you for reading and best of luck!

Bryan @ LEON

Dedicated wellness expertise each step of the way.