Do Personal Trainers Need a License to Talk about Nutrition with Clients?



Fitness professionals know proper nutrition is an integral part of a fitness program. However, not just anyone can write a diet for their client. Many states require a special license for that. This is a big problem for personal trainers who want to expand their qualifications to include nutrition.

Licensure Facts to Follow

States are expanding the umbrella of professional protection beyond the scope of its original intent. The intent of a license was and should be to prevent people without the formal education from practicing medicine. The unfortunate side effect of expanding the scope of protection for Licensed Dietitians is that it eliminates job opportunities for semi-skilled workers.

The reasoning behind the expansion of licensing exclusivity is that it offers the public an added layer of protection. Nothing could be further from the truth. There are hundreds of fad diet books on the market that offer bad advice. Many of these books are written by Doctors and Licensed Dietitians looking to make a fast buck.

Having rules as to what constitutes a safe diet is a much better way to protect the public from harm than requiring a license to write a simple weight loss or muscle gain diet. Having credentialing and education is important but we need to separate what a technician level nutritionist can do what a higher skilled licensed professional can do.

Another problem with allowing the restriction of the scope of our profession is that it puts us on a slippery slope. If the government is allowed to restrict the scope of what we do in regards to nutrition it may decide to expand that to include fitness in general.

There is a need for personal trainers with a certification in nutrition.

Obesity has become a major health epidemic. Rather than restricting the scope of Certified Personal Trainers the government should be encouraging Fitness Professionals to expand their skills to include nutrition. There is a clear distinction between prevention of a medical condition and treatment of an existing condition. If you write a diet to help a person to lose weight you are not practicing medicine you are practicing prevention.

A person with a certification in nutrition should be allowed to write a diet plan for any healthy individual willing to contract with them for their service. If both parties are in agreement and there is no deception of the skill level on the part of the trainer then why should the government even be evolved?

There is a dichotomy of wealth in this country. If you eliminate semi-skilled jobs you also eliminate the opportunity of low-income people to climb out of poverty by increasing their skill level. There should not be an elitist employment environment where only college educated people can improve their economic situation. A college education should only be one of many avenues by which a person can obtain a better way of life.

Not everyone has the time or the resources to obtain a college degree. However, any person willing to commit to working hard and studying to become a Specialist in Nutrition should be afforded the opportunity to practice their craft within the scope commensurate to their level of education.

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John Rutnik is a NFPT Certified Personal Trainer. He holds an AAS in Electrical Technology and has been a certified personal trainer since 2008. John has been involved in physical fitness and weight training since the late 70’s and is an avid outdoors man. He became a personal trainer after rehabilitating himself from a spinal injury he sustained in a car accident and losing 70 pounds. John later obtained ISSA Certifications as both a Fitness Trainer and Specialist in Sports Nutrition and became Lead Fitness Trainer at Anytime Fitness in Schenectady NY. His training philosophy is “no man left behind,” everyone deserves a chance to succeed.