Choosing a personal trainer right for you

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Sometimes we all could use a little help or maybe even a lot when it comes to exercising.  Some of use may think we know what to do to get ourselves in shape while others of us may be completely clueless.  Whatever end of the workout competency spectrum you fall in, there may come a time in your life when you might consider using a personal trainer to help you get in your best shape. 

If your goal is to lose weight, get healthy and/or build muscle, then a personal trainer can be a step in the right direction.  Personal trainers are people who can design an exercise program to meet your fitness goals, keep you motivated and adapt your training as you progress. 

The trick though is to choose a personal trainer that is suited best for you.  This is where it can get a little confusing as there are not any national standards or minimum requirements for someone to call themselves a personal trainer.  But, if you ask the right questions and do your homework, this can help you make the right decision of choosing someone who will bring out the best in you.

What questions should you ask?

There are several things you should inquire about any personal trainers educational and qualifications.  Here are the ones you should ask:

·      What is your educational background in personal training?

Ideally, a four-year degree in exercise science or physiology, kinesiology, physical education or a field related to health and fitness would be a great start on finding the perfect match.

·      Are you certified by any national certifying organizations for personal trainers?  If so, what are they?

Any personal trainer should be certified by a respected organization such as the following:

·      The American Council on Exercise

·      The American College of Sports Medicine

·      The International Sports Sciences Association

·      The National Academy of Sports Medicine

·      The National Strength and Conditioning Association

·      How many years have you been training clients and how many have they worked with? 

Be sure to ask for their resume and current references.  Actually contact the references they provide to get a good feel for their opinions.

·      What do you charge?

Asking about their fee can be a decisive factor in the final decision you make.  Fees can vary widely depending on where you live, the trainer’s qualifications to the length of each of the sessions.  Some personal trainers may charge as low as $20 an hour to more than $100.  Ask if lower hourly rates are available if you prepay or agree upfront to a certain number of weeks or months.  Once you make your decision, ask the trainer for a written agreement that details fees, your workout schedule and policies regarding cancellation and payment.

Other factors of what to look for in a personal trainer

·      Specifics – if you have a specific medical problem, injury, or condition such as being pregnant, heart issues, diabetes, etc., be sure your personal trainer is educated in these areas and will work with your doctor.

·      Someone who is a good listener who knows and understands your fitness goals.

·      A trainer who regularly assesses your progress and suggests and makes changes if necessary.

·      Find someone you like being around and get along with.  Make sure your feel comfortable asking them questions and have a good rapport with them.

·      When looking for a personal trainer, arrange to meet with them before making your final decision. 

Where to find a personal trainer

One obvious place to look for a personal trainer is at your local gym as most of them have them on staff and can offer attractive packages for personal training.  When at a gym notice trainers who are working with a client and see how they interact.  A good trainer should be fully involved and engaged in helping out their client.

Another way is to use IDEA Fitness Connect which can help you find trainers in your area.  Referral’s from a friend who has had success in reaching their fitness goals with a personal trainer is another option of finding someone who is good. 

Healthcare professionals such as your doctor or a physical therapist may be able to refer you to a personal trainer. 

Warning signs

Once you have made your decision, be alert if your trainer does any of the following:

·      Ignores or dismisses your questions

·      Doesn’t return phone calls or emails

·      Works you too hard to where you are in pain for days.  Soreness is normal but should not last days on end.

·      Recommends questionable supplements or herbs.  Always talk to your doctor before taking anything.

·      Diagnoses injuries or illnesses instead of referring you to your doctor.

·      Interrupts your session to talk to friends or takes phone calls.

·      Gives you detailed nutritional advice.  If the trainer is a registered dietitian, that is okay. Otherwise, they should not give you more than very basic nutrition information. 

How to get the most out of your sessions

Once you’ve made your decision of which to hire as your personal trainer, here are some tips on how to make the most when working with them:

·      Make certain they are aware of your medical history that is pertinent to working with them.  If you have specific health issues, let them know that so they can adjust the workout to meet your personal needs and to prevent any unnecessary injuries.

·      Discuss thoroughly what personal workout and fitness goals you want to achieve. A good trainer will design a program to help you attain these objectives.

·      Always ask questions but write them down before the session to eliminate time for talking and allowing more time to focus on the workout.

·      Remember, a personal trainer is there to guide you but you are still the one having to do the work.  Personal training can help you get closer to your goals, but it is not a magic bullet.