Fitness is kind of like cooking. You can get all of your ingredients and tools and learn as you go. You can also go online, watch videos and read magazines. However, to achieve the best of the best results a wise option is to go to a professional. In this case, that would be a personal trainer or fitness trainer as they are sometimes called. Trainers often undergo a formal education through several accredited study programs. These programs typically cover topics like
- Exercise science
- Biochemistry of the body
- Nutrition basics including the science of the digestive and endocrine system
- General health information
- Nutritional supplements
Gone are the days of the 80s where the buff guy in the gym or the aerobic queen in her spandex outfit churned out their trial and error workout advice. Today trainers go through extensive education and even have to earn continuing education credits just like physicians. They are certified through a number of internationally recognized governing organizations like NASM, NSCA, ISSA, and ACE. Most of the top programs are accredited by either the Department of Education or another recognized governing body.
It is debatable which the best is and each has their own distinct advantages and curriculum. Unlike most professions, there is no singular approach when it comes to teaching fitness as there are few if any regulations, unlike the practice of medicine or law. However, your trainer should be more than willing to discuss their credentials and certifications with you.
Many commercial gyms employ trainers. They are a great asset to help new gym goers or to help members meet their goals. If you are looking to hire a trainer you should take some things into consideration. Here are some tips to consider when selecting a trainer.
How to Choose a Personal Trainer
- COST– It is the most important so why not make it first on the list. Your desires and goals in the gym are at the mercy of your wallet if you want a trainer. Some gyms will offer free training for a day or even a week. This is a perk of your membership. Cost can vary, but a survey by The National Strength and Conditioning Association found the average cost to be about $50.00 an hour. Keep in mind that this is in addition to the gym membership.
Some gyms contract with personal training companies. If you decide to hire a freelance trainer you should assure that he/she is allowed to train at your gym. Most commercial gyms will charge fees to outside trainers who conduct business in their facility. Again, look at their credentials before committing.
- THE LOOK– If you watch TV you’d likely see trainers all looking like IFBB pros or bikini models. In the real world, trainers come in every shape and size. Don’t assume just because a guy is built like a truck and can bench press a house; he’s a great trainer. There is more than one way to get in shape and sometimes even the wrong ways bring about results. Your trainer should be knowledgeable and in shape mentally regardless of the size of his biceps. Ask them questions to assure they not only know what they are talking about. This way you will gain insight on if they are the right trainer for you. If you’re just looking to lose fifteen pounds than a trainer who specializes in IFBB pros may not be a good fit.
- Q & A– Don’t be afraid to ask questions! A good trainer will welcome your questions and concerns. If he/she tells you something that you don’t completely understand, by all means inquire further. Remember that this is your health. It is not worth getting hurt because of a simple miscommunication. If your trainer is not open to discussing and explaining things with you, the partnership may not be a good fit. Also be sure to consult your physician before beginning a program with your trainer. Good trainers will require a brief health background to assure that you are trained in the safest and most efficient way possible.
- YOU ARE IN CHARGE– Don’t allow your trainer to belittle you. We’ve all seen the trainers on TV yelling at their clients much like a military Drill Sergeant. The truth is you’re not in the military and they have no right to be screaming at you. It has always been my philosophy that you can motivate people without yelling. The yelling done in the military is to help soldiers learn to operate under stress. Your local gym is neither a battlefield nor a place that should be stressful.
Make sure your trainer is invested in you as a client and your time is their time. When I first started working out I had a trainer that would step away to make phone calls or would tell me to go do twenty minutes on a cardio machine and walk away. If you are paying them, they are on your clock. Just like with any other job, personal time and work time should be separate.
- GOAL– Before you even consider hiring a trainer it is vital to have a goal. A goal is not “I want to lose weight.” A goal is “I want to lose two pounds a week for ten weeks.” A goal is specific; it has a target and a time frame. Be sure you communicate this to your trainer on the initial consult. And remember goals evolve over time.
A personal trainer can be an asset to helping you achieve your weight loss, fitness, and athletic goals. The most important thing to remember though is that the trainer is only as good as the client’s motivation. Don’t expect to succeed because you have a trainer. Expect to succeed because you are motivated and you’re willing to do the work!