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Is What You See What You Get? Perceptions of Personal Trainers' Competence, Knowledge, and Preferred Sex of Personal Trainer Relative to Physique

Boerner, Patrick R.; Polasek, Katherine M.; True, Larissa; Lind, Erik; Hendrick, Joy L.

The Journal of Strength & Conditioning Research: March 18, 2019 - Volume Publish Ahead of Print - Issue - p
doi: 10.1519/JSC.0000000000003027
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Boerner, PR, Polasek, KM, True, L, Lind, E, and Hendrick, JL. Is what you see what you get? Perceptions of personal trainers' competence, knowledge, and preferred sex of personal trainer relative to physique. J Strength Cond Res XX(X): 000–000, 2018—The role that a personal trainer's (PT) physique plays in how potential clients perceive the PT is an understudied, yet potentially powerful area of inquiry that has important professional implications. The purpose of this study was to investigate how a PT's physique could influence perceptions of his/her (a) PT competence, (b) level of personal training knowledge, and (c) preferred sex of the PT. Subjects (n = 191) were presented with pictures of male and female volunteers labeled as PTs. The pictures emphasized physique and consisted of varying body types (ectomorph, mesomorph, and endomorph) and muscularity (muscular vs. nonmuscular). Subjects examined pictures to answer surveys to rate trainers' competence, knowledge, and preferred sex of PT. Personal trainer physique significantly influenced individuals' perceptions of trainer characteristics. Both mesomorphic and ectomorphic body types were rated as more competent than an endomorphic body type. Muscular PTs were perceived to be significantly more knowledgeable and competent than their nonmuscular peers. Female PTs were perceived as more competent and knowledgeable than male PTs. Findings also suggested many more males preferred to work with a male PT while females lacked consensus. Collectively, PT physique seems to have a profound influence whether they are approached or avoided. These findings may have implications for how PTs market themselves to potential clients.

Kinesiology Department, SUNY-Cortland, Cortland, New York

Address correspondence to Dr. Erik Lind, erik.lind@cortland.edu.

Copyright © 2019 by the National Strength & Conditioning Association.