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A personal trainer should hold a current NCCA-accredited certification. This will give you the assurance that you are working with a professional who has the knowledge and skills to provide you with a safe and effective workout. Currently, only 10 of nearly 70 certification agencies have achieved this recognition. For a complete list of the NCCA-accredited certification agencies, visit www.noca.org and click on the NCCA link. Never be afraid to ask to see a copy of a personal trainer’s certification to ensure that it is current. You can always contact a certification agency to verify a trainer’s status. Most certification renewal periods run between 2-4 years and require that personal trainers take continuing education credits or courses designed to keep them up-to-date on the latest information and training techniques. Reputable certifications include ACE, ACSM, NASM, and NSCA.
Educational background & degree
While an NCCA-accredited certification is the professional credential you should look for in a personal trainer, a college degree in exercise science or a related field is a definite plus. This lets you know that your personal trainer has a solid educational foundation in exercise program design.
Work experience & area(s) of specialization
Ask how many years of experience a personal trainer has working with clients, particularly those with your needs or limitations. Does the trainer have expertise in a certain area of fitness or prefer to work with certain types of clients? If you have a medical condition or a past injury, a personal trainer should be able to design a program for you that accounts for this. If you are receiving care for a medical or orthopedic condition, a personal trainer should obtain your consent to discuss exercise guidelines and contraindications with your healthcare provider. Your personal trainer should also ask the doctor for medical clearance.
Professional liability insurance & business policies
Many personal trainers operate as independent contractors and are not employees of a fitness facility. Find out if the trainer you want to hire carries professional liability insurance. A reputable personal trainer should make sure you understand the cancellation policy and billing procedures. The best way to avoid confusion and to protect your rights is to have those policies in writing.
Personal training fees vary based on a trainer’s experience and reputation, facility prices and geographic area, but they are well worth the investment. There are many excellent trainers out there and you are sure to find a qualified trainer who can work within your budget to develop a training schedule and
Talk the talk and walk the walk
Does your trainer practice what they preach? There are many trainers who do not follow their own advice and instead choose to make poor nutritional choices and fail to workout out on a regular basis. You want your trainer to not only be knowledgeable, but be able to apply their knowledge to themselves as well as their clients. Your trainer should be your role model for a healthy lifestyle.
Talk to the trainer and decide if this is someone you can work with
Developing a personal, yet professional relationship with your trainer is very important. Trust your instincts. Do your personalities mesh well together? Do you get along well together? Do you enjoy their style and methods of training? Do you think the trainer is genuinely interested in helping you? The personal trainer you select should motivate you using positive, not negative, reinforcement. Importantly, that trainer should be someone you like.
Some people like to exercise in the morning, some in the evening. Can a personal trainer accommodate your schedule? What about the trainer’s gender? Some people do better working with a trainer of the same sex; others prefer the opposite sex. Find a personal trainer who is knowledgeable and experienced and who fits your personality and "want list" for what you expect out of your trainer and program.
Initial assessment and meeting
Trainers should have new prospective clients fill out a medical questionnaire, complete a fitness evaluation before beginning an exercise program. Your personal trainer should discuss and evaluate your written goals, activity levels, fitness assessment, previous injuries, sports experience, and exercise programs. Your trainer may also perform flexibility and postural assessments. These all serve as tools to develop your fitness program as well as for risk assessment. A doctor’s medical clearance might be necessary if a potential client’s risk assessment is high.
Your trainer should require some form of fitness assessment requiring you to perform specific exercises that will help establish your present strengths and weaknesses. A respectable trainer will develop a customized fitness program focusing on your goals with consideration given to your commitment level, time constraints, fitness level, injuries, and availability to equipment. Your trainer should ask for your height, weight, and age and may also take your bodyfat measurements, body measurements with a tape measure, and before photos.
A detailed food diary may be required upon the initial trainer/client meeting. This is a good thing! A healthy nutritional program and exercise program go hand in hand and hand and you will have a better chance at achieving your goals. Keeping a food journal throughout your is a good idea so that your trainer can analyze your diet and help you make adjustments to ensure adherence and succeed.
Ask for references
Ask the personal trainer for names, phone numbers and even testimonials of other clients he/she has worked with, particularly those who share similar traits and goals. Trainers may be more likely to empathize and understand your unique challenges and needs if they’ve worked with similar clients. If available, call previous clients to see if they were satisfied with their training experience and results. Inquire whether the personal trainer was professional, punctual and prepared, and whether the client’s individual needs were addressed. Talk to fellow members of your health club or friends who are currently working with trainers for their recommendations.
How To Choose The Right Personal Trainer