Beginning a fitness routine can be a daunting task. Most people don’t know where to begin or are afraid of getting no results, or worse, injuring themselves during their workout. This is where hiring a certified personal trainer can make the difference between successfully meeting your fitness goals or not. A good personal trainer should help you set up a fitness program that meets your goals and teaches you the best way to exercise.
What is a Personal Trainer?
A personal trainer should be educated in anatomy, exercise physiology, nutrition, and certified through a national fitness organization (like ACE or ACSM). Your personal trainer’s job is to assess your current fitness level, set up an individualized workout program for you and keep you focused on your fitness goals. A personal trainer will also get you to train harder than you normally would on your own. A personal trainer also provides:
- education about strength training, cardiovascular exercise and basic nutrition
- goal setting strategies
- security that your workout is safe and effective
What to Look for In a Personal Trainer
- Education: A personal trainer should be certified through a nationally recognized personal training organization.
- CPR: your trainer should be currently certified in CPR and/or first aid.
- Experience: Your personal trainer should have several years of experience in the fitness industry, especially in relation to your goals. For example, if you’re rehabilitating an injury, you want someone who knows something about rehabilitation.
- Specific expertise: If you have a certain medical issue, injury or condition (such as heart disease, hypertension, diabetes, pregnancy, etc.) make sure your personal trainer has education in these areas.
- Someone who listens: You are in charge when it comes to your training. If your personal trainer doesn’t listen to your needs or concerns, or tries to force you into following an approach you’re not comfortable with, you have the wrong personal trainer. Remember, personal training should be a fun journey to self improvement.
- Pays attention: Your personal trainer should be focused on you during your workout. They should not be talking on their phone, eating lunch, or generally distracted.
- Goal oriented: Your personal trainer should sit down and set short, medium, and long term goals with you and make sure you are on track to meet them. There should be a direction and strategy to your training.
Be Wary (Forgive me if I repeat myself, it’s that important!)
- Is he or she certified and insured? Just because someone has a great physique themselves does not mean that they are qualified to train you or someone else. Some people are blessed with great genetics or have figured out what they need to do in order to meet their own goals. How do you know they have the knowledge and experience to analyze your body and determine the best approach toward your goals. A nationally recognized personal training certification insures that they have shown proficient expertise in a number of relative areas relating to training. Make sure they have liability insurance as well. If your prospective personal trainer is a professional they will have both of these things.
- Are you in pain? It is normal to be sore after engaging in strength training. This should be an all over soreness that lasts for 2-4 days. This is normal and should be expected. If you find you have acute pain in your joints, low back or a small, localized area of a muscle, your personal trainer may not have you working out with proper form and/ or an appropriate weight. Again, this is their job to begin with.
- Are they distracted? During your session it is perfectly normal to carry on a conversation with your personal trainer about non training related topics. As you work with someone you develop a rapport and it can make your training sessions much more enjoyable if you can take small mental breaks occasionally from your intense training. But your trainer should always be focused on the fact you are there to train, not hang out. Also there is no excuse for your personal trainer to carry on a conversation with someone else (especially on the phone) while you are training, eat their lunch, or stare off into space waiting for the workout to be over. You are paying good money for their services, not just their time.
Working with the right trainer can be a life changing experience. I have seen it time and again with my own clients. Unfortunately, working with the wrong trainer can sour many people on exercise and fitness permanently. By doing a little research and asking yourself what you need out of your trainer, you can increase the chances that you will get a perfect fit.
- NyQuist C.P.T.