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How genetics play a role in personal training

Tailoring your workouts to best work for your client's body is nothing the fitness industry hasn’t seen before. In fact, personalized programming to help people who want to tone parts of their body they aren’t quite happy with yet will continue to grow in popularity. But there are other elements besides programming and diet that contribute to your clients' results.


From classes focusing on a booty burn to boulder shoulders, we’re used to seeing niche programs to sculpt your body the way you want it to look. Some people pick up running for lean legs. Some people master yoga to improve circulation and flexibility. Within all aspects of sports, it would be nice to almost “see into the future” as to what you’ll succeed in, and what you shouldn’t waste your time doing. What if we told you you could know how your own personal genetics affects every workout you partake in?


The use of genetic testing for personal training is an area surrounded with controversy. In 2016, Sports Illustrated reported on potential recruitment via genetic testing for the NFL. USA Today’s High School Sports outlet touched on whether or not the tests could lead to faster identification of standout stars. While predicting major professional athletes through genetic testing may go against some the morals of many corporations, genetics testing in personal training has already taken a huge leap.


New companies on the forefront of genetic testing

DNAFit, a UK based testing company, started their journey in genetic testing in 2013. Their company offers services to improve overall health, and shows you how your body and its chemical and physical makeup reacts to diet and exercise changes. You’d assume they’d need bodily samples that would make you cringe – but in actuality, the company simply requests for a saliva sample.


In the coming weeks, they sift through hundreds of medical studies and make your unique results into a comprehensive guide to improving overall health. Your results could tell you about your likelihood to injure yourself, where on your body you may have trouble losing weight, or how you will perform in your given sport.

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DNAFit isn’t the only company that wants to show you learning about your unique composition can make you a healthier person. AnabolicGenes provides a similar service and shows you just how your body would react to a change in eating or exercise. FitnessGenes has a similar service, all focused on helping you on your journey of health. All of these services focus on giving you a surprisingly non-invasive option to figure out what you should be doing to focus your time in the gym for max results.


What’s the takeaway?

After sending off a sample of saliva, the customer is offered a comprehensive breakdown of their health. Many of the DNA analysis programs will tell you how likely it is for you to be a carrier of disease, like cancer or cardiovascular disease. You may be able to get this information from a doctor’s screening, but the services offer additional information to the client, like

  • Whether you’re more fit for endurance or powersports (think: swimming and biking versus hockey and football)
  • Blood supply, work ability, and metabolic levels in your muscles
  • If you have fast twitch or slow twitch muscle fibers
  • Cell energy levels
  • Constant energy supply in your body while exercising
  • Protection levels against fatiguing muscles


Though these tests often promise to give you valuable insight as to your genetics, they’re also aware of the ethics behind offering “advice”. The personal training aspect of the kits are laden with disclaimers as there will never be one true way of knowing the complete physical and genome makeup and how best to capitalize this to turn you into a superhuman.


At the end of the day, the tests can truly help impact how you eat and exercise. They’re on the forefront for determining a “smart” fitness routine, one that maximizes the small amount of time many have to dedicate towards health and wellness. In an article through The Verge, writer Angela Chen notes that after speaking with DNAfit owner Andrew Steele, he mentions not to switch up a successful routine even if after a genetic result may lead you in different direction. If you feel like the current exercise and diet plan you’ve made for yourself is healthy, keep with it. It’s important to recognize these tests as supplemental information (to pair with 3D body scanning results) to what you feel is already working for you.

Raj Sareen

Written by Raj Sareen

Raj is the CEO and Co-founder of Styku, a 3D body scanning and body shape analysis system for health, fitness, and wellness professionals. He is also a physicist, with a background in extra-solar planetary astronomy and once worked in the Human Space Flight Program at NASA.