There's a sea of personal trainers out there, and they all promise to help you reach your fitness goals.
How do you choose? What makes one better than the other? Check out this list of things to look for and questions to ask your potential trainer.
Your trainer must be certified so they know how to train you safely and effectively. The process involves a lengthy exam. Nearly every trainer associated with a gym is certified, but ask to be sure. There is some disagreement as to who's the best certifying organization. Here are the four most widely recognized:
• American Council on Exercise
• National Academy of Sports Medicine
• American College of Sports Medicine
• National Strength and Conditioning Association
Formal schooling — say, an exercise science degree from a university -- is usually a bonus but doesn't always translate to being a good trainer, said
Diane Ehlers, a local doctoral student who has written about personal training for a national certification group. There's a difference between having the knowledge and applying it.
Many trainers specialize if you have certain needs.
• Senior citizen
• Strength or endurance
• Injury prevention
• Posture alignment
When you're picking a trainer, you're the boss. You can request a male or female. You also should make a list of questions. If you're not comfortable with the answers, it's OK to meet with someone else.
• Are you certified, and do you have any specialties?
• How many people have you trained or how many hours have you put in training?
• How would you describe your style of training?
• How do you determine what workout plan works for which client?
• I hate (running/biking/pushups/fill in the blank). Will you make me do them?
• How will you assess my progress and how often?
• What do I need to do to succeed?
A good trainer gets to know his client. It's called personal training for a reason. Make sure he asks you at least the first two questions:
• What is your health history?
• What are your goals?
• What motivates you?
• What exercises do you hate?
Rates vary. One session typically costs between $40 and $100. The more sessions you buy, the lower the cost per session. Your gym might provide personal training at a lower cost than a place that only does personal training. Ask about one or two free sessions to see how well you work together. Many gyms also offer couples training (two people to one trainer) or small group training at a discounted rate
A few financial questions to ask before you sign up:
• What does a package or session include?
• Do you offer special introductory rates?
• What will I pay for additional sessions?
• Am I eligible for upcoming specials or are specials reserved for new clients only?
• If I'm low on sessions, will you tell me about an upcoming special that I'm eligible for?
If you have a problem with your trainer, explain your concerns to him first. If that doesn't work, ask the fitness director for a new trainer.
Remember, though, that you must be willing to change, learn and be challenged.
Sources: Diane Ehlers, doctoral student of health promotion and disease prevention research at the University of Nebraska Medical Center; Alex Cavazos, director of personal training at Urban Active in Omaha; Jocelyn McNamara, personal training client of Tory Robinson at Aspen Athletic Club at Aksarben Village
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