Finding the Right Personal Trainer for You

by Alison McIrvin

We all know the many benefits of regular exercise.  Sometimes, however, we need that extra push and motivation to keep us at it.  Many times it is just plain smart to have the sharp eye of a professional to keep us in good form, lifting properly and maintaining good body position to help prevent injuries.  Personal trainers will not only help to coach you in regards to cardio and lifting, but good ones will address all areas of a healthy lifestyle for you, including nutrition and diet.

There are many highly qualified trainers out there to choose from.  It is important to understand the various certifications and professional organizations that certify personal trainers, as well as the credentials offered so that you can better assess if a personal trainer and his/her certification are a good fit for you.

  • Photo source, labeled for reuse.

    Photo source, labeled for reuse.

    Are they certified and if so, what are their credentials?

  • The National Commission for Certifying Agencies makes sure that certification programs demonstrate adherence to specific standards for the industry.
  • The American Council on Exercise (ACE) provides fitness certification, continuing education, exam prep for a variety of specialty certifications.
  • The National Strength and Conditioning Association (NSCA) provides education, certification, support materials, conferences with a more specific focus on strength and conditioning.
  • The American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM) provides education and certification for CPT, HFS, or CGEI instruction.
  • The National Academy of Sports Medicine (NASM) is one of the most highly recognized standards in personal training certification, offering A CPT certificate with specialized focus credentials such as fitness nutrition, weight loss, senior fitness, corrective exercise and more.
    • Once you have determined their certification, find out how much actual experience they have and what kind. Hours logged is important, but equally, if not more important is what has been their focus. Sports-specific, age groups, re-hab, or lifestyle management. Make sure you choose a trainer whose focus and experience is a good fit with your fitness goals for yourself.
    • Ask about their cost and also availability.  How far in advance do they require to book sessions.  Do they charge by the hour or a flexible fee for service approach? Some trainers are happy to schedule semi-private sessions with clients of similar fitness levels and goals.  You can save considerably with this option.
    • Have a clear understanding of cancellation policies and additional.
    • Many trainers have specific training styles as their predominant focus.  CrossFit, TRX, Pilates, YogaFit are just some to start. Be sure that their style is compatible with your goals and find out how much they are willing to blend the two.

Using some of these guides will help you to not only find and decide on the best fit personal trainer for you, you will rest assured knowing you did your homework and are getting the best value for your fitness dollar.  Most of all, your personal trainer choice will play a critical role in keeping you on track and injury free on your road to a more fit lifestyle.

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