Working in a busy health food store, this is a topic that has been coming up for me quite often of late. It causes me and so many of my colleagues quite a bit of grief. How the situation usually unfurls is as follows: Me: Hi there, can I help you? Customer: Yes, I’d like some Tryptophan, Activated B6, Fish Oil, Arginine, Spirulina, Ultramuscleze and a Probiotic please. Oh and I need some almond milk cause I’ve been told I shouldn’t have dairy. Me: Ok, that’s quite an assortment of products. Are you under the care of a practitioner? Customer: Yes. I’m seeing a personal trainer. Me: *cringe* Ok, well some of those things I can show you, but some you need a script from a qualified naturopathic or nutritional practitioner. It might also be a good idea if we spent a little time talking about what you are taking and why. Customer: Oh I don’t know what they’re for, but my personal trainer said I need them all so I’ve come to buy them. Me: *sigh* Ok, let’s have a chat…….. The topic of this blog post today is the dangers associated with taking unprofessional, professional advice.
Now don’t get me wrong, most personal trainers are professionals with a large and very significant role to play in our healthcare system. They are the people to see when wanting specific exercise training. They motivate, encourage, practice tough-love when needed, and generally help people loose weight, get fit and feel great! And for these things I applaud them! But when they stray from their area of expertise – their professional “scope of practice” – I become very concerned and sometimes down-right angry. If someone needs a haircut, they don’t go to the nail technician. If someone needs a tooth looked at, they don’t go to the optometrist. So why is it that more and more people nowadays are getting nutritional advice, not from nutritionists, but from personal trainers? Not seeking the expertise of a naturopath for recommendations about herbs and natural medicines, but rather, following the advice of the person that guides their fitness routines?
As I mentioned above, this concerns me greatly. I am extremely worried about some of the “recommendations” trainers are throwing around without the 4 years of intense training that naturopath’s have behind them. Not to mention the lack of professional insurance to cover any dangerous mistakes that may be made.
Natural medicines are natural, that’s true. But they are still medicines. Take too much, or in the wrong combination, or with the wrong drugs and you can die.
Personal trainers complete their courses in a matter or weeks and months, not years. They may supplement their learning with their own reading, or speaking to qualified naturopaths at stores like the one I work in. The information is free and anyone can go in and benefit. But in that short period of study and second-hand information, you can barely scratch the surface of the intricacies of natural medicine. That’s why it takes so long to study to be a naturopath.
Now I’d say in most cases, what personal trainers are recommending is fairly benign. Yes, some magnesium will help with the muscle pain and recovery; yes fish oil will reduce inflammation in the body. But even so, gym-goers should not be given a list of supplements to pick up at their local health food store. I encourage everyone to seek out as much knowledge as possible. You most certainly are the orchestrator of your own health. But be picky when it comes to your information sources. Seek out the real PROFESSIONALS. Most chemists, pharmacies and health food stores will have fully qualified professionals available for quick, free advice. Otherwise, please, make an appointment and sit down with someone who lives, breathes and loves natural medicine. They know what the benefits can be for you, and they know the dangers.
I’d also ask you to ask these people about their recommendations. Ask them if they are qualified as naturopaths or nutritionists. They may be! But don’t feel bad about inquiring about the source of their knowledge. This is your health and safety we are talking about, you should accept nothing but the best.
For any personal trainers out there reading this, please don’t take offence. We both want the same outcome: healthy, happy people. We can work together to make this happen. Why not scout out your local area and get to know some naturopaths you can send your clients to. These referrals work both ways, as many naturopaths would love to have a reliable, professional personal trainer they can recommend to their clients. Working together and providing the highest quality health care for our clients we can achieve our goals all the easier!