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Picking a Personal Trainer
A personal trainer can be a major boost to your fitness efforts. A trainer develops a fitness plan that meets your objectives and takes into consideration your goals and limitations as well as your schedule. Plus, most people are more likely to commit to their workout efforts if they have money on the line.
You can find a trainer through a gym, or you can work with an independent trainer at an outside facility or in your home. It usually is somewhat less expensive to work through a gym, although you also are restricted to working with the gym’s trainers. Regardless of where you find a trainer, though, there are some basic criteria you should look for. And of course, check with your doctor before you begin any fitness program.
Give some thought to the kind of trainer you want. For example, do you prefer to work with someone of the same sex or the same age? Do you have physical issues that will affect your fitness efforts? Do you travel a lot or have other scheduling concerns?
When you interview potential trainers, ask about their training and certification. Look for a certification that is accredited by the National Commission for Certifying Agencies, or NCCA; these include ACE, ACSM, NASM and NSCA, among others. There also are college majors, such as exercise science, that prepare a person for a job as a personal trainer.
Also ask about the trainer’s experience. How long has he been a trainer, and where has he worked? What kind of clients does he work with? Ask for references, and then check the references, asking about their experience with the trainer and what they did – and did not – like about working with him.
Especially if you have physical limitations, talk to the trainer about whether she has experience working with people with those limitations. For example, if you have back problems or a cardiac arrhythmia, can she adapt the program to meet your needs?
Also talk with the trainer about exactly what you want to accomplish. For example, do you want someone to work with you on changing your eating habits? Are you looking to lose weight, to tone or to build muscles? Does the trainer have experience in these areas?
Talk about what the trainer charges and how he structures his training sessions. Typically you train more often with the trainer in the beginning, then work more on your own once you are familiar with the routines. This is also a good time to ask an independent trainer whether he has professional liability insurance.
Finally, be sure to spend enough time talking to the trainer to determine if this is someone you can work with effectively. Remember that you are evaluating whether this person can motivate you to stick with a fitness plan; you are not looking for a new friend. You want the trainer to listen to what you have to say about what you want to accomplish through the training and about any concerns you have.
Make sure that you both understand the arrangement. How often will you meet, how long will you agree to work together, how will you pay the trainer? What happens if the arrangement doesn’t work out for one or both of you?
Finally, once you are comfortable with your choice, get started. But continue to evaluate both your trainer and your training program as you go along, and discuss any concerns you have as they come up. That way, you can make the most of the time and money you spend with your trainer.