I haven’t always been a certified personal trainer or diabetes coach. When I started to get really serious about fitness, I was a corporate girl and didn’t know much about the nuts and bolts of working out and how it would impact my blood sugars.
The first personal trainer I signed up with had no experience working with clients with diabetes, so I had to find out everything for myself (and educate her as well) as I became more informed.
Last week, one of our readers wrote a very sweet email to me about how she was newly diagnosed and had just started working with a personal trainer. She also mentioned that they were both super nervous about the whole setup. That made me think of what I would have told my trainer back when I started, had I know what I know today.
Working out and including resistance training in your routine is one of the best things you can do for yourself and for your diabetes management. Combined with a good nutrition plan, working out has helped me tremendously in my diabetes management. My blood sugars are much more stable now and I need less insulin.
Aside from the impact on my diabetes, I’m also stronger, healthier and happier with my body than I’ve ever been. It’s so weird to be in my late thirties and feel that I’m in better health and happier with my body than I was in my twenties 😀
I have worked with several different trainers over the years so I have developed a list of what to tell them up front about my diabetes. The list is based on my experience as a Type 1 Diabetic so it reflects the needs of an insulin dependent diabetic. It may be slightly different for you if you are Type 2, but most of it should be relevant for anyone.
I would love to hear your experience with working out with a trainer, so if you have other ideas on what to include in my list, please leave a comment below
The 10 things to tell your trainer about diabetes
- Let your trainer know that you have insulin-dependent diabetes and what that means (you have to manage your blood sugar, etc.). Show him or her the equipment you use to manage your diabetes
- Tell your trainer that you can be pushed and coached just like any other person and just as hard (assuming you have no injuries or other issues). Diabetes is something you need to manage, not a disability
- Explain your hypoglycemic symptoms and whether you’ll need assistance when low, as well as how the trainer can assist you
- Let your trainer know where he or she can find your glucose meter and glucose tablets/juice if he or she needs to bring them to you
- Make sure the trainer understands that if your sugars go low (or if you pass out), you don’t need more insulin
- In case you get severe symptoms during hyperglycemia, inform your trainer of that as well and tell him what he or she should do
- Tell your trainer that it’s ok for him or her to ask you to test your blood sugar if you seem extremely out of energy (might be a little annoying at first, but in the heat of the moment you might not feel the low sneaking up on you)
- If you wear an insulin pump or CGM, let your trainer know what it is and where it’s attached so that it won’t get in the way
- If you ever have a serious accident in the gym (knock on wood), your trainer should know to tell the paramedics that you have diabetes
- Finally, tell your trainer that you are responsible for your diabetes, not him or her. Your trainer should assist and support you, but he or she can’t and shouldn’t try to manage your diabetes for you
Remember, your trainer is not responsible for your diabetes management, but if he or she is a good trainer, you become a team and all team members need to be equally informed.
If the trainer is also doing your meal plan (which in my opinion should always be included in what you pay for), talk through what you do to treat your low blood sugars and how to incorporate that into your plan.
Good luck with your training!
If you liked this post, please sign up for our newsletter (and get a sign-up bonus) in the form below. We send out a weekly newsletter with the latest posts and recipes from Diabetes Strong.
Steve Kooy says
Christel, those are excellent points. I’ve been working out with a trainer for about 8 months and it has helped me tremendously in reaching my fitness goals as well as managing my T1D. It is absolutely annoying when he asks me to check my BG’s. He has only done it twice, but I was in the 50’s and dropping fast and had no idea. I would have passed out for sure.