There is no question that many people come to Spinning® and seek out the support of other fitness professionals (Personal Trainers, fitness class teachers, boot camp leaders) for their weight loss goals. They often ask questions about when, what and how much they should eat on either side of their exercise and in general. It is, however, really important that you understand (that we all understand) the scope of our practice and stay within the bounds of our certifications.
If you find yourself temped to say things like:
* You should eat carbs before and protein after a workout.
* You should take all sugar (including fruit) out of your diet
* Eat unlimited meat and animal fat and vegetables, but no grains
* You should eat under 1750 calories per day...
...all these just as an example, I would caution you to re-read exactly what your certifications allow you to do with your clients. Even if you have a nutrition certification, be certain that you are adhering to the professional code of conduct that should be offered (and if there is none, reconsider if you have real credentials).
The reason I am bringing this up is because I hear so often faddish advice coming from clients who have heard things from other fitness professionals who may have caught a glimpse of information off the internet somewhere.
Some people can give nutrition advice, but they usually don't just spew it out in a 10 second elevator pitch - they counsel people.
So, as an instructor, with no or not much credentialled nutrition background, what exactly are you to say when people say... "What should I eat before and after class to lose weight?" ...or some similar question?
You need to first tell them that nutrition is not your area of expertise, or maybe that weight loss is not your area of expertise. Following that you need to keep things very vague, like "you should come well fueled, but not full to class..." (just as an example...) - or maybe regarding what foods, saying something like "more natural, less processed, fewer ingredients is usually better than complicated, processed foods..."
These answers are frustrating to clients - make no mistake. I understand that, but what if you offer bad advice to someone, simply because you read it in a health and fitness brain candy magazine?
The minute you start setting yourself up as an expert in the field, though, you'll quickly discover you're standing on quicksand. Nutritionists / Dietitians run blood work on their clients, understand allergies and hormonal reactions and conduct lengthy interviews. Ideally, you should refer people to these people who specialize in the area of nutrition and weight loss, or go get the credentials that allow you to speak with authority. Simply saying what works for you is not really fair to a client who is nothing like you - one with complex emotional triggers to engage in unhealthful eating, etc.
I wonder if you can offer some suggestions about what to say when people ask non-nutritionists questions about nutrition. Offer them up here, so we can consider them. If you already are a nutrition expert, what would YOU have us mortals tell clients? This is really valuable information you could share right now. When exactly is it that we cross the line?
I, personally, have PT/fitness credentials galore...but not one of them is nutrition. I often tell my clients to tell me what they think they could do to "clean up" their diets to eat more healthfully. They know...believe me...they know and the VAST majority of people who need to lose weight have corners to cut...and they know exactly what corners they can cut. Let them tell you.
Nutrition - it is my next degree, I think. I know my boundaries and don't like 'em. How about you? Are you already a nutrition/diet specialist with a degree or recognized certification behind your name? Let us hear from you. ;-)