Choosing a Personal Fitness Trainer

Dear Friend,

Tis the season after the season. That means gyms are filling up and fitness trainers are getting busy helping all those with New Years Resolutions and Holiday Season Expansion to live healthier and lighter lives. In today’s blog I would like to take a closer look at the process of deciding whether or not you should hire a trainer, what benefits to expect from hiring a trainer and how to select the one that fits your needs best.

In a first step let’s explore whether you are actually in need of a trainer.

  • Are you an experienced fitness enthusiast, a novice or the off and on work out type?
  • How fit are you? Out of shape or in top form?
  • Are you already following a structured exercise program or are you winging it each time you come to the gym?
  • Are you healthy or do you have health conditions that require close monitoring while exercising?
  • How comfortable are you using different exercise equipment at the gym?
  • Do you educate yourself about trends in sports and exercise science?
  • How would you define your own goals for the trainer?
  • What is your financial situation like?

Answering the questions above should give you a good idea whether you could benefit from a trainer or whether it would be a wasteful investment. A Personal Fitness Trainer provides the expertise to create customized exercise programs that consider your risk factors and help you accomplish your goals. He/she will asses, motivate, track progress and hold you accountable. A personal trainer can be the difference between an enjoyable and safe work-out or a no hum work out that possibly leads to injury. If you indeed have special health needs  i.e. due to metabolic conditions (i.e. Diabetes) or orthopedic problems (arthritis, joint replacement etc.) or suffer from a neurological disease (i.e. Parkinson’s, MS, post stroke etc.) you should very seriously consider hiring a qualified trainer that is experienced in working with these types of limitations. Once you have decided to hire a fitness trainer you need to screen several candidates in order to find the best fit.

Personal Training clients are typically part of either one of two categories. They already have a gym membership or they don’t. If you are currently member of a Fitness Club you might want to start your trainer search right at that club. Trainers at clubs are often (not always) a little less expensive, as the employer already makes some income of membership dues. To those of you who aren’t members there are two options available, the Traveling Trainer who offers to meet you at your home or work-site or anywhere else convenient to you, and the Fitness Training Studio Trainer who is part of a small Fitness Center that generates income through Personal Fitness Training and/or smaller scaled fitness classes rather than through membership fees.

To find the right trainer you can interview candidates at your club or utilize the internet and find possible candidates on so called referral sites. These sites often are run by Fitness Organizations that certify and/or educate fitness trainers, or are commercial sites that offer trainers an affordable way of self introduction on the internet. Profiles commonly list education, specialties, target groups, insurance status, experience and CPR/AED certification status.

Here is a list of some popular sites:

PATrainer.com
Personal Trainer Listing Service
IDEA Fitness Connect
Fitness Jobs Place
SimpleFit
FindMyFitnessTrainer.com
ACSM Pro Finder
Find an ACE Pro
Find an NSCA Trainer

Personal Trainer Certifications are the industry’s self imposed minimum standard. Unfortunately there are today so many certifying bodies that it is very confusing for any prospect client to figure out which certifications are the most reputable. Personally I would welcome a State Board Exam for Personal Fitness Trainers to create a single standard instead of multiple educational standards. For that reason I personally prefer to hire trainers with a four year- or advanced college degree in a Fitness and Exercise Science related field to come to work for Back In Form. Please don’t misunderstand, there are many excellent certified trainers out there without college degrees, it’s simply up to you to find them.

So how do you screen for the right trainer that meets your needs? A personal interview and asking the right questions can make the decision easier. Here are some of the questions I ask and areas I investigate when looking to hire a trainer.

Philosophy:

  • Please describe your philosophy on fitness training.
  • What are areas of emphasis? Body Composition, Aesthetics, Health, Weight loss etc.?
  • What made you decide to become a fitness trainer?

Education:

  • What is your educational back ground?
  • What are your degrees and certifications as they pertain to fitness training including CPR/AED?
  • Any expertise in working with special health conditions? 
  • Any references?
  • How do you keep yourself educated on latest trends and science?

Location:

  • Are you offering in-home or work-site training?
  • Where is your gym located? (Convenience is a big factor. We typically don’t stray more than 5 miles away from home or work to train)

Insurance and Policies:

  • Are you liability insured?
  • What are your business policies? Cancellations, missed sessions, terms of contract etc.

Budget:

  • How much do you charge per session?
  • How long is each session?
  • What are your typical contract terms?
  • Are their discounts for long term contracts, partner work-outs etc.?

    The trainer needs to fit your budget

And last but not least, as you conclude your interview, decide whether or not you liked the candidate and if you made a true connection. Only if you enjoy the trainer’s attitude and demeanor, and respect his/her expertise will you trust and have success.

I hope that 2014 is going to be the year in which you will improve the way you look and feel. Be it with me,  with any of my colleagues, or on your own.

A Sante,

Hartmut

Sources:
http://www.ideafit.com/fitness-library/how-to-choose-a-personal-trainer
http://www.sparkpeople.com/resource/fitness_articles.asp?id=1369
http://www.sparkpeople.com/resource/fitness_articles.asp?id=895
http://www.acefitness.org/acefit/healthy_living_fit_facts_content.aspx?itemid=19

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