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Personalising with gene profiling

Gene technology can help fit pros deliver personalised training plans to their clients, says Robert Smith, founder of Agenica, a genetic analysis company for health, wellness and fitness, and presenter of FitPro LIVE workshop Intelligent Genetic Performance.

With over 200 genes identified as playing significant roles within our health and fitness, from the regulation of glucose metabolism to those that influence baseline inflammation levels, the landscape is well and truly changing as genetic analysis enters the playing field. Health and fitness just got personal.

The idea that the genes we inherit influence our sporting and performance abilities is not new; any coach will tell you that what works for one individual doesn’t necessarily work for another. Everything being equal, genes formulate our individual blueprint in health, fitness and performance, with their exact influence being shown to be anything from 30-60%, certainly a significant factor.

A personal plan

As health and fitness professionals, the underlying goal is to create change – positive change for clients in an effort to establish positive behaviour, which will lead a client to enhanced health, fitness, wellness and performance. The inclusion of health assessments, nutritional assessments, lifestyle analysis, performance assessments and now intelligent genetic analysis should underpin this change. How can your client resist? You’re offering an unprecedented insight into their health and genetic potential in areas such as injury, recovery and fitness.

The research

All variation in human traits or phenotypes results from the interactions between an individual’s unique genotype and environmental stimuli. These intrinsic and extrinsic factors interact, modifying certain biomechanical and physiological properties that, in the end, are responsible for our ability to succeed.

We will inherit approximately 20,000 genes that define each of us as human. However, there is substantial variation that exists between individual human genomes or genetics, which include the ‘replication’ of gene sequences (copy number variation, tandem repeats) and changes in individual base pairs mutations, referred to as single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs)1.

Single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) occur when single bases in genes are changed or deleted, which may result in an amino acid change at a specific position and a change in the activity of its associated protein. SNPs have been identified to influence many physical traits in health and performance, nutrition and the development of chronic disease.

Genetic influence

The completion of the human genome project in April 2003 and the subsequent advancements in genomics and bioinformatics has enabled the analysis and integration of molecular genetics. At the same time, new techniques in genomic expression profiling are able to characterise individual genotypes, thereby opening the door to personalised health and fitness.

Muscle performance is strongly influenced by muscle mass and its ability to adapt to stressors such as training load. In addition, the efficiency of muscle activity and contraction is likely to be influenced by a number of genetic factors.

Power through delivery

Identifying the relevant genes for human athletic performance has been and remains a challenging task, in part because each causal gene makes only a small contribution to overall heritability. It is generally accepted that physical capability phenotypes are highly polygenic. This means that they result in multiple options so, as an example, instead of determining the presence or non-presence of freckles, they determine a person’s height or skin colour, for which there is huge variability. The ways in which polymorphisms combine to influence the physical capabilities of individuals and populations are still being researched.

To enhance a client’s performance in health and fitness, comprehensive forms of health and nutritional assessment – working alongside and being supported by genetic analysis – should be incorporated to create effective training strategies that will enhance and promote positive health and fitness behaviours.

As powerful as the genetic analysis currently is, its only true value is its delivery. Here again it is your talents as a health and fitness professional to understand these underlying processes and learn how to manage them optimally for your clients.

Agenica intelligent performance is leading the way in bringing genetic analysis to the health and fitness industry, offering health and fitness professionals a comprehensive education pathway through its practitioner programme. The Agenica accredited practitioner programme is an incremental health and fitness education programme aimed at the elite personal trainer. Designed alongside fitness education leaders, this programme aims to enhance the personal trainer’s professional expertise and learning to a new level.

The Agenica accredited Performance Practitioner programme offers global recognition for health and fitness excellence. The programme focuses on the development of enhanced professional knowledge and skills that represent an elite level of trainer. It also gives a structured programme that will offer you confidence and applied ability to develop as an elite trainer.

Be it individuals or teams, the role of our genetics must not be ignored but should be included when looking at key performance markers such as endurance, power, speed, recovery and injury potential. It is critical to remember that this form of genetic analysis for sports performance is still in its infancy and so the results gained from genetic samples and any interpretation should only be used as an example of what your clients’ potential ability under optimal circumstances would be and should not be interpreted as ‘this means that’!

Through more research and development, our technologies become more sensitive and more and more genes will be implicated in health performance and, thus, the analysis of our reports will be more precise.

FitPro LIVE Workshop Series is proud to present Agenica’s Intelligent Genetic Performance workshop, which provides a foundation of practical genetic knowledge that will enable fit pros to deliver personalised training programmes like never before. Find out more at


Don’t miss our next article on Genetic performance – published in Fitpro’s Summer Magazine! 


  1. Zuden et al (2011) Genetic influences in sport and physical performance. Sports Med. 41(10): 84S-859.

Further reading

Eynon, N. et al (2010a) Is the interaction between HIF1A P582S and ACTN3 R577X determinant for power/sprint performance? Metabolism. 59(6): 861-865.

Gómez-Gallego, F. et al (2009b). Endurance performance: genes or gene combinations? Int J Sports Med. 30(1): 66-72.

Yang, N. et al (2003) ACTN3 genotype is associated with human elite athletic performance. Am J Hum Genet. 73(3): 627-631.