Online education has developed significantly over the last 10 years to the point where it is now possible to get a strong education in vocational and practical skills through the online / e-learning world. However, the online space also offers low-cost, low-quality fitness education. It is essential to do your research and ensure you are clear on what are the key factors to look out for before parting with your hard-earned cash and investing valuable study time to get certified. In this blog, we will make it 100% clear what will help you identify the better quality online personal trainer courses in Europe. We will even provide you with an overview of 5 top online course options.
Fitness in Europe
Personal training and fitness instruction are very popular professions that provide high levels of job satisfaction. Up to 74% of personal trainers stated they were very satisfied with their jobs, according to a recent report. The strong and ever-growing European fitness industry is now valued at €28.2 billion. Europe has 63,644 fitness clubs amassing 64.8 million members across the continent, according to the 2020 Deloitte market report. The fitness industry is a strong vibrant market that needs committed, motivated and well-qualified fitness instructors and personal trainers to sustain its growth and longevity. Could you be part of this rewarding industry? If the answer is ‘Yes!’, then keep reading as we guide you on how to get qualified alongside your existing commitments. Let’s start by identifying some guidelines to follow when reviewing online personal trainer courses in Europe.
Online personal trainer courses: Quality guidelines
If you search the internet for ‘online personal trainer courses in Europe’ the search results will turn out literally millions of results. Behavioural studies suggest that 91% of people do not read past the first page of internet results, but usually just amend the search term instead. This means that the first page of results will be those with strong ‘search engine optimisation’ (SEO) on their website. This is not necessarily a guarantee that you have found the best quality courses in your search. We encourage a little more diligence in your research, maybe looking beyond the first page of results. We also suggest that as you thoroughly look into each training provider and that you compare your findings against the following ‘quality’ criteria.
- Accredited/approved online courses only – this means that an independent standards organisation has reviewed the quality of the online personal training course and can verify that it reaches a specified level of quality. EuropeActive and EREP’s are the organisations with the most widely accepted professional quality standards for the fitness industry in Europe.
- Verified independent reviews – these are genuine customer reviews provided using an independent review service e.g. Trustpilot, Yelp, or Google reviews. Reading past performance and experience from students who took the course can help to reassure you before purchase. Student testimonials included directly within a website can easily be selected to only show the best feedback, ignoring any negative comments. An independent review service will showcase all feedback, both critical and praiseworthy.
- Course content and assessment clearly explained – a company who is confident of their quality and materials will be transparent about the subject matter they cover and the methodology of the assessments used within the course to test and check student knowledge and skill development.
- Course duration – in simple terms quicker is not always better when it comes to educational quality. Some courses may offer unlimited time to completion. This is not always desirable, especially as online education already requires a higher degree of self-discipline. Without time restrictions it is all too easy to put off study to another day and before you know it days become weeks, weeks become months and the course doesn’t get completed. We recommended that you choose a course with a specified time limit to encourage proactive learning, but enough leeway to allow you to adapt to your personal circumstances.
- Check for course pre-requisites – this is a list of essential items or previous education that must be in place prior to being able to take the course. Some personal trainer courses may appear cheaper, but on further investigation, they have previous, and sometimes substantial, requirements to be eligible for registration.
- Tutor support – not all online personal trainer courses offer expert tutor support. Most will offer some level of support, but be thorough to check what this is. Ideally, support should be available from a qualified and experienced personal training tutor, not just from the customer service team. Live support may come in the form of emails, messaging services, phone calls, or even video calls with a real tutor in order to provide the best support to your learning experience.
- Price – the cost of a course is an important factor that cannot be ignored. It would a fair generalisation that in education you often receive back what you invest. Lower priced courses usually offer a reduced service level to justify the reduced cost. Often, though not always, higher-priced courses offer a higher level of service and quality as a reflection of the higher fee. Our advice is to seek for the best quality product and service that you can afford within your budget. If you are attracted by a low-cost course, double-check they meet the quality criteria listed above. If they do not meet the criteria, be sure you are willing to accept the reduction in service level before you purchase.
5 online personal trainer courses in Europe
Online courses can offer several benefits that make it an attractive option for learning new skills such as:
- No physical class to attend and thus no specific geographical location required for study – access available wherever there is an internet connection.
- The course timetable is usually adaptable to your personal daily schedule and can fit around your needs.
- Lessons are available to watch/read multiple times if needed.
- Course content can leverage many helpful digital features that can make the learning process more effective than the traditional live classroom model.
We have done the research and identified 5 online personal trainer courses in Europe that you may wish to review to determine which works best for you. It is important to note that these courses are those that offer all their education through e-learning, there is no face-to-face, in-person classes or another blended form of learning required. Some do require attendance at a specific venue for the final course assessments, but not for the learning process. Let’s begin with the comparison table that reviews the main items.
Nordic Fitness Education
NFE offers a 100% fully online programme through their Nordic Personal Trainer Certificate. The programme of study is all in English and requires a minimum of 4 terms of study, totalling 24 weeks. During this time the learner is required to complete 6 modules and a voluntary fitness internship, totalling 290 hours of study. The course has been independently accredited and graduates are registered as Level 4 personal trainers on the European Register of Exercise Professionals (EREP’s). Importantly the course also includes the Level 3 Fitness instructor standards. Previously unqualified individuals can start their journey to becoming a fitness professional with NFE and be confident both the Level 3 and 4 professional standards are included.
NFE state that students will always have access to an assigned personal tutor in every module who is available to support your education and grade all the assessments. NFE charge a moderate price for the higher level of support and service on offer. They offer a monthly payment plan to help spread the cost. NFE also have a very high, independent student rating to show that their graduates are very pleased with the more personal, higher service level provided.
Origym is a well-established educator that delivers fitness instructor and personal trainer courses across the UK and Ireland. They offer most of their courses in a blended learning format, but they do also offer a distance learning option through their online PT certificate. Origym courses are accredited by the NCFE in the UK and EREP’s across Europe. In order to be eligible for the personal trainer course, it is essential that students are already fitness instructor certified. These essential requirements are not included in the low-priced Origym personal trainer course. They offer flexible payment plans to help spread the cost. Origym offers all their learning through their e-learning platform. The final theory exam and practical assessments must be taken at one of their specified physical locations across the UK or Ireland. This may be a problem for international students outside of these two countries.
DS Personal Training School
DS PT school offer an online distance learning personal trainer course option for Swedish speaking individuals. The course is delivered online, with the final assessments requiring attendance at one of their 4 specified venues across Sweden. They are clearly focused on serving the Swedish fitness market. The course appears to be thoroughly assessed which is usually a good sign of quality standards. It is accredited by EREP’s as well to provide an additional sign of reaching an independently approved standard.
DS PT school provide a summary list of the subject matter that they cover on the course. However, little mention is made on the website of how long the course takes, nor the level of support that is offered by the tutor team. The tutor team credentials are available to review. DS PT school is the most expensive option of the 5 courses we reviewed, but they do offer a payment instalment plan to help spread the cost.
Intensive PT is a rapidly expanding Swedish company that now offers an ‘International’ online personal training course. This appears to mean that a version of their established Swedish language PT course has been translated and is now available in English as an online distance learning option. The course has been independently verified and graduates are eligible for registration with EREP’s. The Swedish site identifies all the tutor team with a short biography of their qualifications, but this is not present on the online, distance learning site. The level of tutor support for the online course is not clarified and may need to be established through communication with Intensive PT directly.
The course details state that there are no time limits on the study period. Students are allowed to progress entirely at their own pace. This may work for the truly self-motivated student, but maybe a factor to consider if you need more encouragement and accountability to complete your learning journey.
Online Trainer Lizenz
Online Trainer Lizenz is a German branded company that is focusing purely on the German online personal trainer market. They have expanded rapidly and taught 1000’s of students to date. This is a sign of their successful marketing and effective educational product that they offer in their Fitness Trainer A license. The course is specifically for the German market, only available in the German language. They only have educational endorsements from German standards of recognition in ZFU and TUV-SUD.
The website indicates the course is on par with the Level 4 European Qualification Framework, but they do not currently hold EREP’s professional approval for the fitness industry. OTL have a very high approval rate on their independent reviews. This is a reliable indicator that customers are happy with this lower-cost product. It is clear that Online Trainer Lizenz has positioned themselves in a more budget price bracket with a reduced service level compared to other education providers. But several signs show they are offering good value for the price and keeping their customers satisfied.
We have only highlighted 5 of the more prominent online personal trainer courses in Europe in this blog (as of Jan 21). The fitness education industry is developing all the time. Training providers continue to improve their product offerings and release new course options. In time there will likely be more choice. You may find through your own research that other training providers offer a suitable online personal training course in your country and language. By all means, if you have checked these courses against the quality criteria above and you are happy with what you have found then, by all means, get registered and get qualified. There is a vibrant fitness industry waiting to receive you!
In many aspects of life women and men have a basic right to be equal! However, the debate still continues as to whether or not women should workout different from men. Both genders certainly can train the same if they wish, but is that the most effective thing to be doing in terms of overall health and in trying to optimise results? Dr Jade Teta rejoins us for a special show on our 50th episode to answer some important questions on gender-specific hormonal physiology and how this can be tied into exercise and fitness training.
Dr Jade Teta is a highly experienced personal trainer of over 25 years. He has produced numerous video-based workouts that are used by hundreds of thousands all over the world. Jade has a degree in biochemistry and is a qualified physician. His speciality is in a subset of medicine called naturopathic medicine. If you compare him to your family doctor, but instead of using drugs and surgery first, Jade chooses to use drugs as a second choice over other natural remedies and behaviours. He is also an expert in nutrition, exercise and supplementation. Jade describes his speciality as ‘integrative endocrinology.’ This is the study of hormones & metabolism. The integrative part just means that he combines and balances both conventional and alternative methods. Most of Jade’s career has been focused on helping the most difficult metabolic cases to be able to successfully lose weight.
You can learn more about jade by visiting his very informative website.
Dr Jade is the author of several books, including:
Lose Weight Here: The metabolic secret to target stubborn fat and fix your problem areas
The Metabolic Effect Diet: Eat more, workout less, and actually lose weight while you rest
Episode content: Women should workout different from men
We think this episode is going to be one of the great classics on the Fit to Succeed show. Don’t miss out, be sure to make time to listen to the full show. We cover a whole range of fascinating and important topics related to gender training considerations, especially in reference to the hormonal physiology of male and female bodies. Fitness trainers listen up and alter your practice accordingly! Women should workout different from men.
- 2:04 Why gender is often overlooked when giving fitness advice
- 7:45 The impact of dominant male hormones on fitness development
- 12:12 The circadian hormonal cycle for males
- 17:05 Optimising male circadian habits to improve weight loss efforts
- 23:33 The impact of dominant female hormones on fitness development
- 42:46 Women who suffer PMS and difficult menstruation may adapt their fitness training schedule
- 46:54 The impact of menses and menopause on fitness, diet and cravings
This is the second time Dr Jade has been on the Fit to Succeed show. His first episode back in season 1 was also excellent. We discussed Calories, hormones, and metabolism as fundamental factors in managing body fat loss.
Connect with Dr Jade of social media
Rate the show
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For other great episodes and expert guests on the Fit to Succeed show, visit our full podcast library.
Coaching is not just another word for training! Becoming a personal fitness coach requires a change in our approach to client support and behaviour change. Leading behaviour coach and personal trainer, Bobby Cappuccio, shares the important differences and will be sure to change your perspective.
Bobby began coaching shortly after a paradigm shift occurred in his life. He was in his early twenties and a certified personal trainer. Born with a severe facial deformity and diagnosed with Tourette syndrome at age nine, he suffered abominable abuse in and out of his home until he stumbled upon a marvel: exercise. He discovered that by redirecting his focus, he could affect positive change in not only his life but in the lives of the people he in turn trained. In helping others, he was in fact helping himself. In sharing his discoveries over the years, he became a world-renowned speaker, author and behaviour change coach.
As co-founder of PTA Global, former head of training and development at David Barton gym, former director of professional development at the National Academy of Sports Medicine (N.A.S.M.), Director of Coaching at the Institute of Motion (IOM) and content curator for PTontheNet, Bobby’s reach runs wide. Bobby has worked with Hilton Hotels, Virgin Active, Fitness First, 24hr Fitness, David Lloyd Leisure and multiple small businesses nationally and abroad. Bobby travels the world impacting lives, inspiring positive change and growth in individuals and companies alike. He has presented at business and fitness conferences across the globe including IDEA, Filex, CanFitPro, FitPro, IHRSA, Pure Fitness Asia, Perform Better, Equinox, Gold’s Gym International, Lifetime Family Fitness etc. helping to develop top-notch fitness professionals.
Fit to Succeed episode: Personal coaching
In this episode on personal coaching we cover:
- Bobby’s back story that brought him into the fitness and personal training industry
- the definition of coaching
- how personal training is connected to coaching
- the concept of cognitive dissonance and how this can impact fitness objectives
- how confirmation bias can lead to less informed choices and limit the potential for change
If you enjoy this episode, then please rate the show and share it with your friends so they can benefit from this free expert information. Your comments and feedback are always welcome. Please subscribe to the podcast on iTunes or the video series here on YouTube so you will receive each update immediately upon release. To enjoy more engaging expert interviews, please visit our full podcast library.
Connect with Bobby on social media
Here is a short 5-minute bonus video that we recorded with Bobby, that offers some extra ideas and concepts to help.
Health and fitness professionals are human too! It may come as a surprise that many in the fitness industry still struggle with a lack of motivation and confidence and maybe even a lack of self-belief. Sometimes developing and maintaining a high level of fitness is a means to overcoming those personal limitations. However, there is another way…learn to motivate yourself, begin an action plan to gradually increase in confidence and self-belief for true success. World-leading expert and inspirator, Pete Cohen, joins us on the Fit to Succeed show and shares vital insights into how we can build our psychological muscles!
Pete Cohen is one of the world’s leading keynote speakers. Hundreds of thousands of people from all over the world have been motivated and inspired by Pete’s presentations. He has been dedicated to supporting organisations and the people within them to flourish for over 25 years.
Pete coaches business leaders, executives, corporate teams and sporting stars to achieve their best. He has worked with companies such as IBM, Boots, Pfizer, Robert Half International, BAA, Royal Bank of Scotland, Boehringer Ingelheim and Thomas Cook. He has professionally impacted on the lives of thousands of people worldwide. Pete focuses on the importance of having a strong belief in yourself.
He is the author of 17 published books, several of which have been best-sellers across the world, including Shut the Duck Up, Habit Busting, Life DIY and Sort Your Life Out. He has also presented his own show on TV called The Coach and was the resident Life Coach on GMTV for 12 years. Pete’s background is in psychology and sports science. He specialises in taking self-help and personal development to the masses in a way that is easy for people to understand and apply. Working in sports performance coaching, Pete has helped world class sporting stars reach their peak performance. Notable clients include Sally Gunnell, Ronnie O’Sullivan, Ellen MacArthur, Roger Black, the Kent Cricket Team and the Arsenal Football team.
Episode Content: Motivation and confidence
In this episode with Pete Cohen we discuss some intriguing topics and draw out some fascinating insights, including:
- what motivated Pete to become a fitness professional
- what is ‘self help’ and why do we need it?
- how to ensure we receive help from qualified coaches
- actions for developing confidence and self-belief
- how to shift from a negative relationship with exercise/diet to a more positive one
Connect with Pete on social media
If you enjoy this episode about motivation confidence & self-belief, then please rate the show and share it with your friends so they can benefit from this free expert information. Your comments and feedback are always welcome. Please subscribe to the podcast on iTunes or the video series on YouTube so you will receive each update immediately upon release. To enjoy more engaging interviews, visit our full podcast library.
During episode 19 Pete mentioned a range of different books, experts and talks that you can find out more about by following the links below:
Mel Robbins TEDX talk: How to stop screwing yourself over
Episode 11 Fit to Succeed podcast with Pete’s past fitness colleague, Lincoln Bryden, a leading group exercise expert
This short bonus interview was recorded in addition to the main interview. Pete shares some quick thoughts to help those who need some ideas in a hurry! Enjoy.
In this episode, Jenny Burrell champions the health and fitness needs of women keeping fit during pregnancy and the postnatal period. Pregnancy does not have to become a time to rest and ‘put your feet up’ only, it can also be a time to continue enjoying your fitness habits and maintaining exercise throughout pregnancy. Jenny is passionate about empowering women to function, move, and enjoy life during and after pregnancy.
Jenny Burrell is the head of Burrell Education, one of the UK’s leading-edge educators in the field of modern Pregnancy, Post Baby, 3rd Age (Peri-to Post-Menopause) and Female Fitness. Burrell Education the UK’s only endorsed, accredited and licensed education provider dedicated to solely to these specific special population groups.
Jenny states her mission is to help mothers/women and pre & postnatal fitness professionals to realize the unlimited forward-facing possibilities for creating intuitive, real-life programming. She loves to develop strategies that quite simply get results. But most importantly, Jenny helps women re-connect with the power of who they really are!
She originally qualified with a BSc in biochemistry and microbiology. A lifelong learner, Jenny has obtained over 25 professional certifications in fitness, therapy, and wellness.
Episode content: Exercise throughout pregnancy
Some of the topics discussed during this engaging episode on keeping fit and continuing with exercise throughout pregnancy include:
- Jenny’s fascinating journey to becoming a fitness professional that specializes in female fitness and wellness
- a breakthrough in modern, pregnancy-related fitness advice
- the changes in fitness and functional needs across the 3 trimesters of pregnancy
- how the core and pelvic floor muscles are integrated in their function
- and many more tips and ideas for keeping fit during pregnancy and female health
If you enjoy this episode, then please rate the show and share it with your friends so they can benefit from this free expert information. Your comments and feedback are always welcome. Please subscribe to the podcast on iTunes or the video series on YouTube so you will receive each update immediately upon release. To enjoy more engaging expert interviews, visit the full podcast library.
Connect with Jenny:
To learn more about Jenny and look into the wide range of specialist pre and postnatal training courses available through her website: www.burrelleducation.com
During the episode, Jenny mentions 2 specific individuals in the functional movement fields that helped improve her skills for keeping fit during pregnancy. If you would like to learn more about the concepts they teach follow the links below:
We also recorded a short bonus quick fire question round with Jenny. Again she offers some helpful thoughts and applicable tips. Enjoy!
Being successful in life and as a fitness professional requires a positive belief and mindset. This truth is easy enough to say, but trickier to put into practice. Leading fitness professional, Jon Burgess, shares his views and experience in developing a well of positive belief and mindset to apply to his business and to support his clients.
Jon is a leading health and fitness professional with over 20 years’ experience engaged in one to one personal training, health and lifestyle coaching. He also delivers workplace wellness workshops and wellness days. Jon has a nutritional supplement business focused on helping people enjoy elite health. He seeks to support gut health and the micro-biome whilst teaching others to do the same. Jon is an example of someone who had a clear vision for what he wanted his business to be and then worked hard to create it. He has guided and coached 1000’s of clients in the process and has really learned in the trenches how to run and develop a successful business. Jon has been featured in national magazines and on regional BBC radio. Always trying to move forward, Jon balances his work life with his family, is happily married and has 2 daughters.
Episode content: Belief and mindset
- motivational factors to keep focused in the early stages of a fitness career
- how Jon overcame his early struggles when he came close to burn-out
- the power of self-belief to help energise performance
- mindset defined
- how to support clients who are stuck in a negative mindset
- key steps for utilising mindset to help a business flourish
If you enjoy this expert interview episode, then please rate the show and share it with your friends so they can benefit from this free information. Your comments and feedback are always welcome. Please subscribe to the Fit to Succeed podcast on iTunes, Stitcher, Player FM or the full version on YouTube so you will receive each update immediately upon release. To enjoy more engaging expert interviews, please visit our full podcast library.
Connect with Jon on Social media:
Facebook @Jon Burgess
During this episode, we refer to the book Strength Finder 2.0 by Tom Rath. This also links to an online assessment tool to help you determine your own key strengths – here is the link to the Gallups Strength Centre. Please note the Strength Finder assessment charges a fee if you do not have the book which provides an access code.
Jon also refers to the highly-rated book, The Success Principles by Jack Canfield, as his favourite self-help success book.
Moving abroad carries its challenges for anyone, but a fitness professional relies heavily on reputation and a solid client base. Fitness industry veteran, Ben McDonald, has successfully transferred his well-established fitness career abroad, re-building from the ground up. He joins us on the show to share his story, experience and perspective.
Ben McDonald has worked in the fitness industry since 2004 and currently works for DTS Fitness Education in Canada. He has an extensive and varied sporting background including fencing, board diving, Mixed Martial Arts and has competed in Cricket, Aikido, Boxing, and Rugby. Ben has taught for the largest health and fitness training provider in Europe and has been published in numerous UK magazines. He has developed multiple qualifications, presented internationally, and is considered a leading expert in Club bell training. Ben was awarded the 2013 Recognition award at the UK International Fitness Showcase. He is passionate, energetic and his love for the health and fitness industry is contagious.
Episode content: Fitness career abroad
This episode covers a broad range of elements, all of which can help to combine in the process of creating a successful fitness career abroad.
- key motivational factors for success
- challenges of moving a fitness career abroad
- fixed versus growth mindset
- outcome versus processed focused
- standing out from other fitness professionals
- connecting with your client base
- making a memorable impact on future performance
- Full success acronym: MADE = Motivation, Appreciation, Dedication & Education
If you enjoy this expert interview episode, then please rate the show and share it with your friends so they can benefit from this free information. Your comments and feedback are always welcome. Please subscribe to the Fit to Succeed podcast on iTunes, Stitcher, Player FM or the full version on YouTube so you will receive each update immediately upon release. To enjoy more engaging expert interviews, please visit the full podcast library.
Company website: www.dtsfitnesseducation.com
Connect with Ben on social media:
Ben shares an important book recommendation during the show called Mindset by Carol Dweck
Please share your feedback and rate the episode here or on YouTube, iTunes or Stitcher. Any comments would also be welcome. Enjoy!
The Algarve Cup 2019 tournament
The 2019 Algarve Cup was the 26th edition of the international women’s invitational football tournament held in Portugal between 27th February to 6th March. One scheduled women’s football match was special for a slightly different reason.
During the tournament, on 4th March, Scotland (FIFA ranking 20th) played against Iceland (FIFA ranking 22nd) in an exciting matchup that delivered 5 goals in total with Scotland taking the victory. The full match reports, can be found on the Scottish FA website and also the Icelandic FA website.
In addition to the exciting game and football talent on show, there was another lesser known fact about this specific football match. There were also four personal training students/graduates from the same school playing alongside each other during the match.
Icelandic football team:
Playing for Iceland, Dagný Brynjarsdóttir was the very first graduate of the Nordic Personal Training Certification (NPTC), obtaining her European Level 4 personal training qualification in January 2018. Regarding her learning experience, Dagný said: “The NPTC is a great programme which gave me the opportunity to study while pursuing my professional football career.”
Sigriður Garðarsdóttir, also playing for Iceland, is the most recent graduate of the NPTC programme (per date of publication). She achieved her Level 4 personal training qualification in February 2019, just a few days before this international game with Scotland. In respect to her journey to becoming a certified personal trainer, Sigriður rated the NPTC course as “Excellent,” and that she would “recommend the course.”
Needless to say, here at Nordic Fitness Education, and our mother training company Keilir Academy, we are very proud of both of these personal training graduates. We wish them continued success both on the football field and through their educational achievements as certified personal trainers.
Glódís Viggosdóttir, who was selected in the starting 11 for this match, is currently halfway through the NPTC programme. Similarly to her football skills, she is performing very well in her studies to date.
Scottish football team:
Finally, on the Scottish side, Fiona Brown, who played in the second half of the game, is also halfway through her NPTC studies. Fiona is proving to be a very capable student as she works towards her Level 4 personal training qualification.
The team here at Nordic Fitness Education will continue to support both Glódís and Fiona as they work hard towards the completion of their Level 4 personal training certifications. No doubt they are gaining valuable knowledge that will help support them as they continue to play football at an international level.
We wish all four women the very best as they continue with their national football careers.
Since this blog was written regarding this women’s football match, Glódís and Fiona have also completed the programme so that all 4 of the NPTC students mentioned have successfully graduated from the course and are now certified European Level 4 personal trainers. We are proud of their educational achievements as well as their performance on the football pitch!
Could you become a certified personal trainer?
Undertaking a career in personal training can be a great option for those who are seeking a secondary field of expertise to focus their professional careers. Whether you work in sport or perhaps in some other field of expertise, why don’t you find out more about the Nordic Personal Training Certificate.
The NPTC programme has been fully accredited by Europe Active to meet all the required professional fitness industry standards across the European region. NPTC graduates are eligible for registration with the European Register of Exercise Professionals.
We are living in a modern world that often requires us to engage in repetitive movements. Often we may need to adopt long-term fixed positions that impact on human posture and movement capacity. Office employment, manufacturing work, packaging lines, schooling, computer gaming, driving, commuting, long distant flights and many other elements of modern living dictate our fixed bodily positions on a daily basis. As human posture adapts to our modern environment the knock-on effect on our movement capacity can have significant negative implications on physical fitness, movement purity, and even athletic performance. Let’s dig a little deeper into methods to help combat the modern environment and how to perfect your posture.
What is posture?
Posture has been defined as the ‘attitude or position of the body’ which should be able to fulfil three important functions:
- Maintaining the alignment of the body’s segments in any static position: supine, prone, sitting, quadruped, and standing
- Anticipating change that will allow for engagement of voluntary, goal-directed movements such as reaching and stepping
- Reacting quickly to unexpected perturbations or disturbances in balance or centre of gravity
This clearly indicates that the concept of posture includes both a static and an active/dynamic state of being. Maintaining effective posture is vital for balance and control of the body when motionless as well as during a wide variety of different types of human movement. To provide for the long-term health of the spine, shoulders, hips, knees, ankles and feet, developing the ability to stay within optimal postural parameters is a desirable goal at all times when holding static positions or moving in three dimensions. This is much easier said than done as habitual postural position is predominantly controlled through subconscious neural controls and is rarely at the forefront of our daily thinking.
The conscious mind is usually preoccupied with goal-oriented movement, rather than the exact positioning and motion required for each specific joint involved in a larger chain reaction of physical movement. Thank goodness for that! Can you imagine trying to apply your conscious mind to control every muscle, joint and body part to synchronize different joint angles, tempo’s, range of movement, joint impact, joint loads, and other biomechanical responses just to perform the basic function of walking? The conscious mind boggles at such complexity in an attempt to perfect your posture. Thankfully our more powerful subconscious brain can manage all of these immensely detailed neural functions without our focused mind needing to be invested in this.
The body has numerous sensory receptors, called proprioceptors, found within the muscles and joints that help to provide neural feedback regarding one’s own limb and spinal position, speed of movement, and the forces passing through the muscles and joints in order to subconsciously control any necessary response. Perhaps the most well known of the primary 6 categories are the muscle spindle and the Golgi tendon organ. All proprioceptors constantly gather vital information on behalf of the nervous system to ensure we are fully aware of and can respond to our own daily movements and the forces that we are subjected to constantly throughout each day.
Where joint or muscular dysfunction has crept in unawares, resulting in posture and movement purity corruption, subconscious human movement may no longer fall within an optimal range. Such adulterated movement will likely lead to a shift in centre of gravity, faulty loading through the muscles and uneven forces passing through the joints (see sway posture example above). If left unchecked the chronic application of such faulty movement can lead to muscular tension, fascial adhesions, joint wear and tear and the gradual breakdown of important structural tissues. These undesirable, dysfunctional outcomes can be managed and reversed if they are identified, and a suitable corrective strategy is introduced and applied in an effort to improve and perfect your posture.
A corrective strategy should involve a carefully planned process of adjustment and relearning of motor control. An effective way to support a client and plan to correct their faulty movement patterns is as follows:
- Carry out a postural assessment and identify any existing faulty positioning
- Carefully assess movement purity and identify any visible restrictions
- Determine the dysfunctional muscles based upon the posture and movement assessment observations
- Mobilise joint and muscle range of motion where limitations exist
- Select relevant activation exercises for any under-active muscles within the kinetic chain
- Apply an appropriate level of intensity within each stage to ensure good position and technique are always paramount
- Gradually progress the physical challenge towards optimal function provided movement purity is maintained
It would be impossible in a simple blog to cover all variations in postural position and movement dysfunction. But here is an example of a common and relatively simple dysfunction to address.
The Flat Back posture
- Thoracic spine in a flexed position – resulting in protracted shoulder girdle
- Cervical spine in an extended position – resulting in forward head carriage
- Pelvis is in a posterior tilted position
- Hips are in an extended position
Overactive, shortened muscles that most likely require stretching:
- Hamstring group
- Rectus abdominis
- Upper trapezius
Underactive, lengthened muscles that most likely need strengthening:
- Mid-trapezius and rhomboids
- Neck flexors
- Lumbar erector spinae
These stretches and exercises may become part of an effective workout preparation strategy for 10-15 minutes before each gym session. They can even be done as part of planned light activity on a rest/recovery day. Committing to the regular application of such a strategy can be a powerful tool in resolving imbalances to help progress and perfect your posture. This will, in turn, improve functional daily movement, which ultimately will lead to better performance in the long term.
Check out our course
We teach similar posture and movement analysis content within our flagship certification, the Nordic Personal Trainer Certificate, within the Consultation, Testing and Programme Design module.