How to Choose An Exceptional Personal Trainer

leigh-rowWith so many of us on the go nowadays, it’s often hard to find time to fit fitness into our daily routines. Even more challenging is the task of finding an exercise program that is effective, efficient and most importantly, one that we’ll actually stick with. Marketers, manufacturers, infomercials and self-proclaimed “fitness gurus” offer a myriad of solutions ranging from instructional DVDs that claim to help you “in as little as 10 minutes a day,” to pre-packaged programs that come with generic recommendations and awkward gadgets. So how do you solve the personal fitness predicament amid a sea of sales tactics and slick marketing tricks? The answer – hire a qualified personal trainer.

Personal training as a profession is an interesting field, where many un- or under-qualified individuals obtain jobs or start their own endeavors touting themselves as “personal trainers.” For the consumer, there are several things to consider when hiring a personal trainer to ensure that the individual in question is qualified:

1. Examine education and certification. Qualified personal fitness professionals will have either a degree in Exercise Physiology or a related field, or a nationally recognized certification, or both. Certified fitness professionals may have varied educational backgrounds, but most reputable certifications require at minimum a college degree. Some “personal training certifications” can be found online and may only require completion of a 20-question quiz and a credit card number. Qualified personal trainers hold, and are required to maintain, nationally recognized certifications from certifying bodies such as The National Strength and Conditioning Association, American Council on Exercise, National Academy of Sports Medicine, or The American College of Sports Medicine. Maintenance of these certifications requires that the fitness professional complete continuing education credits annually, helping them stay on the forefront of new information and education. Don’t be afraid to ask for proof of certification to ensure that the trainer in question is not only certified, but also that their certification is current and in good standing. In addition, you can perform online research at any one of the above mentioned association websites. These websites will often have databases of certified trainers in your area for your review. IDEA Health and Fitness Association even has FitnesssConnect - a feature that provides bios and contact information for qualified fitness pros.

2. Inquire about experience. Certifications are important, but an individual may become certified and then begin training shortly thereafter, with little hands-on, practical experience. Now this may be okay for the relatively healthy client who is seeking to undertake a beginner program, but may not be wise for an individual with numerous health conditions or prior/existing injury. In addition to general experience, ask the trainer about their experience with clients who have had similar goals to your own. Ask what kind of results they have been able to achieve with this client base. Also ask whether or not they hold any specialty certifications that enable them to train these more specific goals or situations. Most trainers have portfolios or client testimonials that they are happy to share with you.

3. Get a sense of personality. Even with certification and experience, you want to ensure that the personal trainer you’re interviewing has a philosophy, style, and approach that fit your needs. Because of the personal nature of the relationship you’ll develop with your trainer, you want to be sure that your personalities “click.” You don’t have to share the same hobbies and interests, but you do want to feel comfortable with the trainer and feel confident that they will be a good instructor, listener, and motivator.

In summary, a qualified personal trainer can be the solution in your quest to change the way you feel, function, look and live. Remember, when looking to hire and begin working with a personal trainer, focus on the three “R’s” – reputation, results, and rapport. If the individual in question meets these requirements, then your experience will undoubtedly be able to be referred to by another “R” – rewarding.

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