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how to choose a personal trainer

Buyer Beware: How to Choose a Personal Trainer.

Hiring a trainer to get you in shape is all the rage. And the days of one-on-one sessions with an accredited and education person are long gone. With everyone and their brother now calling themselves a trainer, coach or fitness expert, you have to be overly cautious when investing money into your fitness.

If you are considering hiring a personal trainer or coach, make sure you do your homework. You are putting your health and your body in someone else’s hands. You wouldn’t let a mechanic off the street work on your car, so why would you do the same with your body?

Here are a few tips to consider before hiring a personal trainer:

are they certified?

A personal trainer should hold a CURRENT NCCA-accredited certification. The National Commission for Certifying Agencies (NCCA) has 26 years of experience accrediting allied health professions such as registered dietitians, nurses, athletic trainers, and occupational therapists. In 2006, the International Health, Racquet and Sportsclub Association (IHRSA) recommended that club owners only hire personal trainers with certifications from agencies accredited through the National Commission for Certifying Agencies (NCCA) or an equivalent accrediting organization. Currently, there are over 300 certifying agencies, but only a handful that are accredited by the NCCA. A few that made that list are ACE, ACSM, NASM, NCSF, NFPT & NSCA (to see the full list go to www.credentialingexcellence.org/ncca).“It’s sad, but there are a lot of “fitness experts”, “fitness professionals”, “coaches” and personal trainers out there who are not certified.”It’s sad, but there are a lot of “fitness experts”, “fitness professionals”, “coaches” and personal trainers out there who are not certified, or are certified, but not by a reputable and nationally recognized agency. If you hire one of these people, you are putting your health and body in danger.

are they insured and CPR/AED certified?

In the event that something should happen during your session, you want to make sure that you are protected. Before beginning any type of workout, your trainer should show you proof of liability insurance, proof of a CURRENT CPR/AED certification, have you sign a waiver and complete a health history. If these steps are skipped over – run away as fast as you can!

do they have experience with people who have the same goals/health issues or injuries as you?

If you are looking to train for a specific sport or activity, have medical issues, are pre or post natal or are coming back from an injury make sure you choose a trainer that has experience in that area. The last thing you want is to become re-injured or set further away from your goal.

ask for a trial workout or consultation.

Not every trainer will be a good fit for you. If you are looking to run a marathon, hiring a trainer who specializes in body building probably won’t be a good choice for you. You need to find a trainer that can help you reach your goals.“A good trainer will be more than happy to meet with you, discuss your goals with you and find out if you would work well together.”A good trainer will be more than happy to meet with you, discuss your goals with you and find out if you would work well together. During your trial workout or consultation, don’t be afraid to ask questions. You are hiring a trainer to help YOU reach YOUR goals and you need to know everything you can in order to make the right decision.
After your consultation or trial workout ask yourself these questions:

  • Does this trainer motivate me?
  • Could we get along?
  • Do I feel comfortable with this trainer?
  • Does this trainer have an interest in helping me reach my goals?
  • Are their previous/present clients happy with their results?

A reputable trainer will have no problems giving you references. Request email addresses or phone numbers of previous and /or present clients. Ask the client if the trainer was on time for sessions, addressed their needs and acted in a professional manner.

watch your personal trainer in action.

If you can, check out your possible trainer in a real life situation. Some trainers talk a good talk, but when it comes to training – they can’t walk the walk. Watch to see if they are attentive to their clients form, keep their workout area safe (equipment out of the way) and stay focused on their client during the session.

the nine types of trainer NEVER to hire.

  1. Cookie Cutter Cal. This trainer has one workout that they do and they do it with every one of their clients. Leg press, lat pull down, chest press – repeat. Bicep curl, bench dip, front raise – next! It doesn’t matter if you’re 18 or 81 – all their clients get the same workout.
  2. Chatty Cathy. This trainer is a talker. He/she talks constantly about everything and anything. You could be pinned underneath a barbell and he/she won’t even notice because he/she is too into recapping The Walking Dead and how Carl should just stay in the house (Walking Dead reference – sorry).
  3. Pill Poppin’ Pat. With all the supplements he/she carries in their pocket, this trainer can be heard coming from a mile away. This trainer has a magic pill for everything. Red, blue, orange, green – every pill has a purpose and he/she thinks YOU should be taking all of them.
  4. Flexing Felix. Usually a male trainer, but not always. This trainer is more interested in how he/she looks in the mirror than in your form. This one can usually be found flexing in front of any reflective object. If he is wearing a shirt (but probably not), it will most definitely say “Welcome to the Gun Show!”
  5. The Gossip Queen. This trainer is almost always a woman. She is in this business for 1 reason, and 1 reason only – the gossip. She attracts clients that love the gossip as well. Sessions don’t focus on working out or getting fit. Oh, no. It’s all about who is doing what with who. Needless to say, the only goal that these clients achieve is big, strong jaw muscles.
  6. DR. PT, MD.  To the weight room, stat! This trainer actually thinks because he/she knows where the patella is located that they are a medical doctor. He/she will diagnose your injury or illness and tell you how they can heal you. You “You don’t need to see a doctor for that debilitating pain in your leg – it’s just shin splits. Here, let’s do some sprints to warm you up!” This trainer may actually carry surgical gauze and a trach kit in their pocket. Yikes!
  7. Social Media Sam. No need to ever wonder what your trainer is up to, all you have to do is check their Snap Chat, Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and Tumblr accounts and you will know what they are doing every minute of the day. And that includes during your workouts. You also may often wonder if this trainer even has a face because you have never seen it in real life. It is ALWAYS glued to the phone. SM Sam feels the need to take endless photos of you and with you during your reps and has no problem asking you to take their picture during the session because “this lighting makes my abs look sick”.
  8. The Scam Artist. This coach/trainer is sneaky!!! They post before and after photos one after the other and try to charm you into buying what they are selling. Supplements, online programs, weigh loss wraps. If they can make money off of it, they are trying to get you to buy it. And after you have shelled out your money and realize all that you got was an ear full of promises and no results, they have magically disappeared.
  9. Last but not least: The Drill Sergeant. Combat boots, a whistle and camo pants are a part of this trainer’s wardrobe. This trainer yells, screams obscenities and works you so hard you’re in pain for days. Complaining only leads to more reps and throwing up makes him/her laugh uncontrollably. After a session with this trainer, you’ll be lucky if you can breathe without crying!