Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Do I need a Personal Trainer?

Do I really need a personal trainer?

What to consider:

No matter what gym you go to, chances are you have seen at least one personal trainer. Their purpose is simple: To provide an individual with a strong foundation, confidence, and ability to achieve their fitness goals. While some trainers may be useful, a common misconception is that they are experts in health and fitness. Despite the fact that some gyms only hire trainers with quality references, many do not, and such practices can lead to false information, and injury.

If you ever choose to use a trainer, it is always in your best interest you ask them a few basic questions first.

  • Where did they get their credentials, and how long did it take?
  • What process did they have to go through to become certified?
  • Do they have a degree in kinesiology, or another health/fitness field?
  • How long they have been a personal trainer?
By asking these basic questions, you can begin to understand how much time and effort this individual spent becomming a trainer. If you are interested in working with a personal trainer, then it is also a good idea to familiarize yourself with the organization that provided their credentials. Below is a basic list of some of the best in the industry.
  • National Strength and Conditioning Association(NSCA)
  • Cooper Institute for Aerobics Research (CIAR)
  • American Council on Exercise (ACE)
  • American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM)
  • National Federation of Professional Trainers (NFPT)
  • National Academy of Sports Medicine (NASM)
  • National Council of Strength & Fitness (NCSF)
  • International Sports Sciences Association (ISSA)
  • Aerobic and Fitness Association of America (NFAA)

With the basic questions out of the way, and a little knowledge of accredited fitness institution, you can get a little more into detail. Below you will find some very good questions and topics to think about when deciding on whether this (or any) personal trainer is right for you!

Things To Try:

  1. If you have been going to this gym for awhile, chances are you might have seen this trainer before. Give yourself a week or two and watch how the trainer interacts with their current clients, for it may give you some insight into whether or not this person knows what they are doing.
  2. Another option would be to get to know whomever the trainer is currently working with, and ask them whether or not they are getting anything out of the experience. The latter may be hard for the timid, but under the given circumstances, could save you money and time. (Who knows, it may even give you a chance to talk to that cute girl / guy the trainer has been working with all week!)
  3. Ask for some work history too. Just because they claim to know all there is about physical fitness and nutrition, doesn’t mean they really do. Ask for a couple of references, whether it be previous places of employment, or previous clients, and learn all you can. At any rate, checking up on the trainer’s references will usually provide you with information the trainer will not.
  4. Nutrition is another key aspect when it comes to choosing a trainer. No trainer is complete without a knowledgeable background in healthy eating. Any good trainer worth his weight in gym equipment will make you write down a detailed log of what you eat and when you eat. Doing so will ensure you are actively thinking about what you put into your body, thus helping you eliminate the bad foods. After all, when it comes to changing your appearance, diet is 80% of the battle (at least!), and exercise is the remaining 20%. If a trainer does not make note of what and when you are eating, he either does not care, or does not know. Both of which are red flags. If however, you fully understand the concepts of healthy nutrition, then you should be doing this already on your own time. This is discussed in greater detail in the Nutrition aspect of this website.
  5. Liability insurance is always a plus for a trainer to have. This isn’t always the case though. Some trainers might be covered under their gym’s insurance plan. However, if this person is not fully affiliated with your gym, or you’re not sure about your gyms policy, then this is a good question to ask. If you get hurt while with a trainer, and they’re uninsured, then you’re the one left holding the gym bag. Also ask if they have any emergency preparations ready. A well prepared trainer will know CPR, or at least a cell phone handy in case of an emergency.
  6. Beware of any trainer that tries to sell you on supplements of any kind. While these supplements may be the best in the world, that doesn’t mean they are the best for your body. A good trainer will avoid pushing a sale on you just to make a commission. Instead, they might recommend useful supplements or aids to help you in your progress. Even so, supplements should be taken with extreme caution, and always ask your doctor before starting any kind of supplement plan, no matter how insignificant.
  7. Make sure your trainer is up to date on all the latest health news! There are always new research studies, articles, and test results emerging, so having a trainer with his finger on the pulse can really make a difference. This is especially true if you are taking supplements of any kind. Ask your trainer, he may know of something you don’t.
  8. Your hard earned cash is too valuable to waste on a trainer that only claims to know what he’s talking about. Ask for a free session. You don’t buy a car without a test drive, so apply the same mentality to your trainer! This will be a good insight into his or her workout styles, and whether or not they know their stuff. Try and get their opinion on matters like nutrition, workout equipment, and training styles, for this can be a good indicator on how they will work with you. Not only will this reveal how much the trainer actually knows, but you might also learn something out of it too. A personal favorite of mine is asking the trainer to provide multiple methods for working out the same body part. If he cannot answer with more than 3 different exercises for a major muscle group, then they aren’t worth your time.
  9. Life is unpredictable, which makes it very easy to miss gym appointments. Ask the trainer whether or not they allow rescheduling. If they are truly there to help, then they will usually let you reschedule appointments. Some gyms however require their trainers to follow strict scheduling guidelines, which could cause you to lose your appointment, money, or both. So make sure you ask to avoid missing out.


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About The Author

I am a 24 year old college graduate from California. I am big into health and fitness, and feel everyone should get out there, be active, and live the best life they can.

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