The Challenges of Personal Training and Personal Training Apps

The Challenges of Personal Training and Personal Training Apps


In the modern day of health and fitness, more and more people are flocking towards personal training and since the introduction of smartphones, mobile apps have become increasingly popular as a way to be able to do much of your life’s necessities whether it be your banking, music, communication and now heath. With our fast paced society, the convenience of accessing a training session at your fingertips is all too tempting.

Many people seek the expertise of a personal trainer or a personal training app to help them achieve specific fitness goals, whether it’s weight loss, muscle building, improving cardiovascular health, or enhancing overall fitness. While people seem to get some short term results in some of these areas, many don’t, and at worse end up with more injuries than they first started in their pursuit of health.  

These avenues seem to offer potential benefits for individuals seeking guidance in their fitness journeys, but are not immune to challenges, and a Functional Patterns perspective sheds light on some of the reasons for their failures.


Personal trainer certifications start at as little as 4 weeks up to 3 months to become certified. For example, the ISSA personal trainer course which is a personal training certification course takes 4 weeks. Although this may seem like a short time frame to understand how the human body works and what is the healthiest way to train a client, the issue lies more in the content and concepts that are being taught within a personal trainer certification.

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Topics like anatomy, biology, and nutrition are all taught within personal training certification courses but they miss the understanding of how the body works as an integrated system. Even a Bachelors and Masters of Exercise Science, a university degree, are taught similarly to what personal trainers are taught, just spend longer time on the topics, yet a big component missing from these courses is understanding human biomechanics and how much of an influence this has on one’s health. These courses focus on a lot of information from textbooks and articles but lack real life application in training people and getting results. The main reason for this is that there’s no acknowledgement of our biological traits as human beings and no reference to training in optimising our ability to stand, walk, run or throw. These four movements, known as the Functional Patterns Big 4, were the four most important movements for human survival. 

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The science behind their training philosophies separates training into either strength, cardio, or mobility. A common personal training session would look like: 5-10 min warm up on a treadmill or bike. Followed by stretches on the floor or mobility work. Then resistance training either on machines or free weights for 20-30 mins. Depending on the clients goals, the set and rep range would be adjusted accordingly to target either strength, hypertrophy, endurance or power. Dynamic exercises are thrown in as well for some clients like box jumps, KB swings, or sleds or some HIIT training using these movements or on a cardio machine to increase the HR.

Some aspects of this style of training isn't necessarily bad, it just misses understanding the first principles of how our bodies are meant to move. These training programs tend to get ahead of themselves as they bypass understanding the fundamentals of basic things like standing. By overlooking these fundamentals, it doesn’t cater to people with very low athletic capacity as it doesn’t help them to scale up and the client often creates compensations in their movements and leads to injuries or pain.


Most personal training apps do not take a first principles approach to training. A first principle way of thinking means you take a problem-solving and decision making approach that involves taking down complex problems into fundamental principles or basic truths.

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As stated above, by breaking down how we are meant to move as humans, you will be able to address the root cause of health issues for a lot of people. One of the major reasons clients see a personal trainer is to get in shape without getting hurt, especially if they are dealing with musculoskeletal issues or chronic discomfort. If you don’t understand the human blueprint of movement then most other solutions are a band aid approach to solving the problem. 

Let's take someone who has been told they have a ‘’weak’’ core and that’s the cause of their lower back pain. They go to their personal trainer or use a personal training app and are taken through a series of core exercises in an attempt to strengthen their core via exercises such as crunches, sit-ups and bird dogs to name a few. Although this isn’t inherently wrong, it's not looking at the problem deep enough.

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Traditional bird dog 

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Functional patterns plank                                     

The way core exercises (just like other body parts) are taught in a personal training certifications are usually with the focus on engaging the muscles in an isolated matter. With this approach, many people can’t access their core and compensate using either the wrong core muscles or other muscles and don't end up being useful for them. They are not accounting for concepts such as structural integrity, which is an important facet to understand when trying to create tension and build muscle. Integrating the pelvis, ribs and thoracic spine is not looked at when taking someone through these exercises. When the body becomes properly aligned during an exercise, say during a plank, the whole structure is being challenged in an attempt to realign each joint to one another. When you don’t account for looking at the body as an interconnected system, it can create postural imbalances within the body and can lead to further pain.


Functional Patterns have an amazing track record of getting people out of pain utilising first principle’s methods. There are thousands of results that are on the FP website and social media that showcase people’s postures, structure, pain levels and overall health improve. This is because Functional Patterns utilises the understanding of the blueprint of human movement down to its most fundamental components and all these concepts are taught within Functional Patterns certification courses.

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FP Practitioners are equipped with understanding biomechanics and the ground roots of functionality to help any client they work with optimise their health. A practitioner will take a systemic approach to enhance movement or movement patterns in relation to FP first 4. The practitioner focuses on the quality of the movement rather than quantity, volume or intensity. The practitioner will take a client through a series of movements and once the client is able to execute these movements in a precise manner to the highest degree, the client will feel the benefits transfer to literally every other movement they do in their life. The practitioner will also break down these concepts to the client, for them to understand. We want clients to be empowered with the appropriate skills to problem solve their own bodies dysfunctions, and take control over their own health.

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An alternative to personal training apps is the Functional Patterns 10 week online course. This course is a step by step approach specifically designed to help people eliminate and stay out of pain. Rather than just a personal training app that gives you exercises to do, this course educates you to coordinate and control your muscles in space, so you can move your joints in a way that doesn't grind but instead glides. A progression from the 10 week online course is the Functional Training System, which is designed to be rehab and performance at the same time. This isn't just another workout, but rather a way of training your body with the intent of becoming more efficient with everything you do.


Functional Patterns is a one stop shop when it comes to training with the objective of creating sustainable health changes for the long-term. Compared to personal trainer certifications, Functional Patterns certifications apply first principles thinking to its approach in solving problems for society and therefore produce the best results in the fitness industry. 

So next time you’re considering purchasing a personal training app or seeing a personal trainer, just think if you’re wanting to learn the best way to move and stay pain free, consider looking at one of the Functional Patterns online courses or find the closest practitioner near you. 

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