Many individuals who exercise use a personal trainer at one time or another. Services provided by trainers include: educating the trainee about strength training and cardiovascular training, tracking the trainee’s progress, and providing motivation and accountability in the fitness program. Personal trainers can assess an athlete’s strengths and weaknesses, provide a comprehensive fitness plan, and even design a sports-specific training program. While using a personal trainer may be beneficial, how does one choose a trainer? There are several factors to consider when choosing a personal trainer, including education, experience and specialization. Taking some time to interview a prospective trainer can help make the exercise experience a happy and successful one.
Factors to Consider When Choosing a Trainer
- Education – while it doesn’t take a PhD in exercise physiology to be a personal trainer, it is helpful for a trainer to have had some formal education in exercise physiology and human anatomy. Many personal training certifying bodies require the trainer to have a fairly comprehensive knowledge of these subjects.
- Certification – it is important to make sure your prospective trainer is certified, but what, exactly, does that mean? There are multiple certifying agencies, most of which require trainers to pass a written exam to achieve certification. Although there is some disagreement over which certification is “best”, hiring a trainer with some type of certification insures that the trainer has a baseline knowledge of training principles. Some of the better known certifying bodies include the American College of Sports Medicine, the American Council on Exercise (ACE), and the National Academy of Sports Medicine (NASM).
- Experience – Beside the obvious idea of looking for a personal trainer with adequate training experience, one should attempt to find out what type of experience a trainer has. For example, if an individual is middle aged, and hoping to lose weight through training, one should look for a trainer who has worked mostly with this type of client in the past. Alternatively, if one is a high level athlete looking to gain an edge on the playing field through training, then that is the skill set to look for in a potential trainer.
Additional Things to Consider
- Get a referral if possible. Chances are that if a friend has used a particular trainer and had a good experience, then the new trainee will also have a good experience.
- Observe the trainer at the gym. This type of on-the-job observation can help one decide if a trainer’s methods are compatible with the potential trainee’s personality.
- Make sure the trainer will allow for a short term commitment initially. This will give the trainee the opportunity to make a change if the initial experience with the trainer is less than satisfying.