It is January 1st and your New Year resolutions include losing some weight, getting more toned or adding a few pounds of lean muscle mass. You've got enough courage to join your local gym. You may be even thinking of hiring a personal trainer to keep you motivated and guide you through an intimidating world of weights, workout machines and exercises you can’t even pronounce.
BUT HOW DO YOU CHOOSE THE RIGHT PERSONAL TRAINER?
Here are 10 tips for finding a trainer who is worth your hard-earned money:
1) YOUR PERSONAL TRAINER IS CERTIFIED BY A NATIONALLY RECOGNIZED BODY.
While certification alone does not guarantee high quality, it is certainly a proof of your trainer's dedication to providing the best advice possible. The top three (in my humble opinion) are the ones offered by The American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM), The National Conditioning Association (NSCA) and The National Academy of Sports Medicine (NASM). All three certifications have a CPR certification among prerequisites. Make sure you ask your personal trainer if he is certified during your first meeting.
2) YOUR PERSONAL TRAINER TAKES THE TIME TO GO OVER YOUR HEALTH HISTORY (I.E. PAR Q), LISTENS TO YOUR CONCERNS AND GOALS AND CREATES A WORKOUT ROUTINE TAILORED TO YOUR INDIVIDUAL NEEDS BEFORE YOU START YOUR PROGRAM.
This is especially important if you have any medical conditions. Beware of a personal trainer who enrolls you in a program without asking if you've experienced (or currently have) any health issues.
3) YOUR PERSONAL TRAINER HAS A PERSONAL LIABILITY INSURANCE.
If you hire a trainer at one of the fitness clubs, they will have you sign a waiver and release form giving up your rights should anything happen to you. While the use of a waiver is common practice, I’d recommend choosing a personal trainer who has a personal liability insurance. This is especially important if you decide to work with an independent trainer. A good insurance plan costs only $150-250/year, so there is no reason for your trainer not to have one.
4) YOUR PERSONAL TRAINER PRACTICES WHAT HE PREACHES AND IS FIT AND HEALTHY HIMSELF.
This is one reason I've decided to get ACSM certified myself a few years ago. I've seen too many out-of-shape trainers helping the clients to get fitter (which I find a little ironic). When you invest in a personal trainer, at the very least you should expect him to be fit to keep me motivated.
5) YOUR PERSONAL TRAINER IS ATTENTIVE AND FOCUSED ON YOU DURING THE TRAINING SESSION AND DOESN'T CUT THE SESSION SHORT.
Again, too many times I see the trainers texting, chatting to other clients/trainers or talking about themselves, instead of focusing on their client (YOU) during the session.
6) YOUR TRAINER HAS THE RIGHT TOOLS TO TRACK YOUR PROGRESS AND KEEP YOU ACCOUNTABLE.
Your workout template should be clear, informative and easy to understand. It should include your stats and relevant changes throughout your training period to show progress. This will help you to stay focused, and your trainer - to hold you accountable and make any necessary changes as you progress throughout your program.
7) YOUR PERSONAL TRAINER DOES NOT GIVE ADVICE OUTSIDE OF HIS EXPERTISE (I.E. NUTRITION, MEDICAL CONDITIONS, ETC). OR SUGGESTS TAKING QUESTIONABLE SUPPLEMENTS.
Always consult your doctor if unsure whether the supplements are right for you.
8) YOUR PERSONAL TRAINER IS ABLE TO EXPLAIN THE EXERCISES AND THEIR EFFECT ON THE MUSCLE GROUPS AND ON YOUR OVERALL GOAL, IN A CLEAR, EASILY UNDERSTOOD WAY.
Your trainer should be watching and correcting your form to make sure you don’t injure yourself. He should teach you how to perform the routine on your own so you could perform it safely when you are not training together.
9) YOUR PERSONAL TRAINER IS PURSUING CONTINUED EDUCATION RELATED TO HIS FIELD/AREA OF FOCUS AND IS WELL INFORMED OF THE LATEST RESEARCH IN THE FITNESS AND WELLNESS TOPICS.
I personally enrolled in a one-year program to become a board certified health coach (after becoming ACSM-certified as a personal trainer).
My goal was to learn more about the interconnectedness of nutrition, physical activity, career, relationships and spirituality, and their impact on our bodies. This now allows me to understand my clients’ needs better and be more effective as a personal trainer.
10) LASTLY, MAKE SURE YOU AND YOUR PERSONAL TRAINER ARE COMPATIBLE AND YOU FEEL COMFORTABLE ASKING QUESTIONS.
If this is not the case, do not feel guilty or too shy to ask to switch a trainer. You are spending your hard-earned money, so it is only fair that you set the rules.
Now go have fun and make sure to give it your best!