So, you have decided that it’s time to take control of your health and well-being. Maybe getting rid of some body fat is on the menu. It could be that adding a few pounds of muscle might be your goal. Or possibly the goal of heightened athletic performance is a driving force. Maybe it is just a matter of regaining some physical fitness that has been lost along the way. Regardless, you are now on a mission to make your desired goal a reality. But, where do you go from there if you have no experience when it comes to establishing effective training programs?
That is when the idea of hiring a personal trainer might be the logical step to take.
But, how do you know if you are getting the right kind of personal trainer?
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Let’s find out.
The following is a checklist of the important things that you should look for in a qualified personal trainer to make sure you are getting quality service.
1. Is your trainer a holder of a fitness related university degree that gives him/her a background in anatomy, biomechanics, exercise physiology, and injury management?
A degree in Kinesiology, Exercise Science, or Physical Education demonstrates that your trainer has a solid academic foundation from which to draw when designing a safe and effective lifestyle program for you. Higher education also means that your trainer is making health and fitness a career, not just a part-time effort.
2. Does the trainer have a valid certification through a recognized professional organization like the NSCA (The National Strength and Conditioning Association), Can-Fit-Pro, ACSM (The American College of Sports Medicine), ACE (The American Council on Exercise), as well as other reputable national organizations?
It is well within your rights as a paying customer to ask a trainer for proof of credentials. A responsible personal trainer should, at the very least, have a valid certification. This assures a basic knowledge of how the human body works, and a minimum level of competence in designing and implementing basic training programs.
Remember that big muscles are no substitute for certification, no matter how much muscular trainers would like you to believe otherwise. Everyone in a gym with many years of training under their belts fancies himself or herself as an expert. Stay away from the alleged trainer that is trying to sell you the idea that certification is not necessary. Looking good or winning a Mr. Muscle or Miss Fitness competition, while an admirable accomplishment and the product of serious dedication, is never a substitute for quality certification.
Ideally, your trainer should have a combination of both qualities: the sound, academically-backed knowledge to help you achieve your goals, and the type of healthy and vibrant body that is the product of that very knowledge. Simply put, does the trainer “walk the walk, and talk the talk”?
As a role model, your trainer should demonstrate that he or she is applying the same lifestyle habits that are being suggested to clients. A trainer that eats fast food and hardly trains, or does not train at all, cannot be seen as a source of inspiration, or even as credible.
3. Is the personal trainer a member of a health and fitness association that requires continued education in order to maintain certification status?
Continued study will ensure that your trainer is staying current with the advances in the health and fitness industry. It is also an assurance that the certifying body is a serious organization that has the population’s best interests at heart by keeping their members up to date on the newest developments.
4. Does the trainer hold a valid CPR/AED card? Does the trainer have first aide experience?
While it is hoped that no client suffers an injury or has a life threatening experience, it is of extreme importance that your trainer be certified in CPR, automated defibrillator (AED) usage, and first aid should such episodes occur.
5. Has the trainer developed a network of professional health practitioners such as doctors, physical therapists and nutritional experts to whom you can be referred should the need arise?
Unless your personal trainer is a licensed medical health practitioner, he/she is not allowed by law to give out medical advice or prescribe or dispense drugs of any nature to clients. In the event that a medical intervention be needed, your trainer should be able to refer you to the proper professionals for consultation. Information from these professionals will help your trainer to design a safe and effective lifestyle program for you.
6. Does the trainer require you to fill out a health screening form, or obtain a written clearance from your doctor, before proceeding with the creation of a training and lifestyle program for you?
A trainer will need these sources of information in order to design a personalized fitness program that caters to your goals all the while taking into account your limitations and special needs.
7. Does the trainer perform a physical fitness assessment analysis before prescribing a workout regimen?
A personal trainer should, at minimum, assess blood pressure and resting heart rate to be sure that they are within acceptable ranges. Body fat, strength, cardiovascular endurance, flexibility, and posture are also fitness parameters that a trainer might also test before establishing a specific exercise plan.
8. Does the trainer have liability insurance?
Again, while it is hoped that no client sustains an injury, accidents do happen. An insured trainer demonstrates that your protection is taken care of, at least from the compensation point of view. If the trainer is working for a fitness center, chances are he or she is covered by the facility’s global insurance policy. You should ask about this important detail, however, when soliciting the services of an independent trainer.
9. What are other clients saying about the trainer?
References from other clients can be valuable as those individuals know the trainer and can offer some insight that can help you in your decision-making process.
10. Lastly, do you get along with the personal trainer?
Having a good time with your trainer is definitely an integral part of the experience. If there is conflict, or a lack of motivation, then maybe the individual is not for you. Good personal dynamics between trainer and client through active listening and empathic communication often make the difference between continuing or abandoning an effective lifestyle program. Make sure you hire someone with whom you get along and who inspires you.