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Personal trainer´s health advice to clients in the fitness gym

Håman, Linn, Prell, Hillevi, Lindgren, Eva-Carin

Konferensbidrag (Refereegranskat)


Fitness gyms have become popular places for physical activity. Several individuals exercise at gyms and an increasing number hire a personal trainer (PT). PTs have an important role in offering advice and exercise programs as well as detecting unhealthy behaviors among their clients. Norms regarding exercise habits in the gyms appear to be strongly gendered, which may influence PTs’ advice. The purpose of this presentation is to describe PTs’ health advice to clients. In total, 19 PTs, nine women and ten men, aged 23 – 47 years were recruited through purposive sampling. An explorative design was employed and seven focus group discussions were carried out. These were analyzed using a qualitative content analysis guided by a gender perspective. The findings suggest that PTs had a gendered health advice approach towards women regarding exercise and diet. The PTs gave reactive health advice especially to women showing unhealthy exercise and eating behaviors in order to correct these unhealthy behaviors. The specific advice involved a) eating more and exercising less, b) focusing on performance rather than appearance and c) avoiding heavy weight lifting. However, the PTs avoided to advise men showing similar unhealthy training and eating behaviors. The PTs also had a transgressive health advice approach. They advised both women and men to a) adopt a relaxed attitude to exercise and diet, b) to prioritize and rationalize their exercise and diet and c) to eat a natural diet. The gendered health advice approach might give women and men different opportunities to improve their physical fitness, health and well-being. Men with unhealthy behaviors might not be supported by the PTs, which adversely can affect men's health. We recommend that gym managers and PT-educators increase their awareness about the importance of providing equal opportunities for women and men to improve their physical fitness and health.

Nyckelord: diet; exercise; fitness gym; gender; health advice; personal trainer

Citera: Håman, Linn, Prell, Hillevi & Lindgren, Eva-Carin, Personal trainer´s health advice to clients in the fitness gym, 2019