Strongly Dignified: Maintaining Dignity as A Fitness Professional by Danielle Shaffery

The value of dignity has consistently guided my actions in my personal and professional life, serving as a foundational principle that has been deeply ingrained in my sense of self since childhood. My parents instilled in me the importance of hard work and the pride of achieving professional success. As a result, I have come to understand that how one conducts themselves in a professional environment reflects their character. I have endeavoured to embody this belief throughout my career.

My career as a fitness trainer may not have followed the traditional path of obtaining a four-year undergraduate degree, but it has been a journey that I have worked diligently to earn respect from my peers and clients. I am committed to constant learning and self-improvement. I am well-versed in fitness topics through reading extensively, listening to educational podcasts, and participating in continuing education courses. Currently, I am pursuing a Corrective Exercise Specialization, building on my previous completion of courses such as Fundamentals of Virtual Training and Guide to Body Building, among others. I take pride in knowing that I invest extra time and effort to enhance my knowledge and skills, ultimately benefiting my clients by providing them with the education they need to succeed in their fitness journeys. With dignity, I strive to continually raise the bar in my professional development and service to my clients.

The prevalence of misinformation on social media has significantly impacted the perception of education in the fitness industry. With the saturation of information and the widespread circulation of inaccurate content from seemingly credible sources, mistrust towards fitness professionals has emerged. Many posts on social media lack evidence-based information, creating a discrepancy between the correct information I share with my clients and what they may read from their favourite fitness influencers. As a fitness trainer, it is my responsibility to debunk inaccurate claims and provide my clients with proper education, aligning their behaviours and mindset with evidence-based information. This can often be challenging, as it may involve addressing conflicting information and navigating moral dilemmas that blur the lines between what is easy and right. In these client interactions, maintaining dignity can sometimes be questioned. However, I am committed to upholding my mission as a fitness professional by prioritising integrity, professionalism, and the well-being of my clients. This may involve providing educational resources, engaging in open and honest conversations, and continually staying informed about the latest research and best practices in the fitness industry.

In my day-to-day work as a fitness professional, I encounter a wide range of scenarios and clients, each unique in their needs and goals. At times, I find myself in tricky situations where I must stand my ground and stay true to my scope of practice and moral compass. I have encountered clients who may request that I go beyond my scope of practice, asking me to diagnose ailments, prescribe nutrition plans, or act as a substitute for medical professionals such as physical therapists. While it may be tempting to give in, I maintain my dignity by saying no, when necessary, despite the potential negative ramifications it may have on the client’s expectations.

I understand that upholding the highest standards of professionalism and adhering to my scope of practice may be challenging. However, I choose to prioritise the well-being and safety of my clients above all else. By maintaining my dignity and integrity in these situations, I aim to foster a trusting and respectful relationship with my clients, ultimately ensuring that they receive the best possible care and guidance in their fitness journey.

In any industry, professionalism is closely tied to maintaining a sense of dignity in our daily interactions. However, there are times when it can be challenging to discern between dignified and undignified treatment, especially in difficult situations. I am grateful for the solid moral foundation that guides me to think and act in a way that aligns with my sense of self, allowing me to create a safe and effective environment for those seeking to incorporate fitness into their lives.

Danielle Shaffery is a certified fitness trainer through the National Academy of Sports Medicine, USA, who is currently studying to become a Corrective Exercise Specialist to serve her clients better and guide individuals with physical limitations. 



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