It’s New Year’s Resolution time and many of us break out our workout clothes and dusty sneakers, motivated to get back in shape and fit into our “skinny” clothes. For those of us who need more than just access to a fitness club, personal trainers are a great option to get motivated, stay on track and get the results we are looking to achieve.
But like all things, no two personal trainers are alike. With over 250,000 personal trainers in the US, according to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics, the quality and level of expertise can run the gamut. Not only are there a large number of personal trainers, the quality and standard for personal training services is unregulated. This means that, as a consumer, you need to do your homework and find a personal trainer that can help you achieve your health and fitness goals.
Qualifying your personal trainer is just as important and finding the right real estate agent, financial planner or doctor. You are looking for professionals who can help you to get results, yet avoid injury and harm. When you are actively looking for a personal trainer, you should treat the process like a “job interview” to qualify the right personal trainer for you.
STEP ONE – The Q & A Interview
Before agreeing to purchasing any personal training sessions it is best to meet with the personal trainer to get to know them and qualify them. Below are areas to identify which personal trainers meet your needs and expectations regarding your health and fitness goals.
Certifications & Qualifications
There are a wide variety of personal training certifications available on the market today. These range from weekend courses/workshops and online certifications to four year University degrees. These certifications set a baseline of knowledge that you should expect from your personal trainer. Highly sought after certifications include: National Academy of Sports Medicine (NASM), American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM), National Strength and Conditioning Association (NSCA), National Federation of Personal Trainers (NFPT) and the American Council on Exercise (ACE). Below are a few questions to consider asking your personal trainer:
- What Personal Training and/or Fitness Certifications have you completed? Are they current?
- Have you completed your First Aid/CPR/AED certification? Is it current?
Experience & Credibility
It takes thousands of hours of hard work and practice to become a good personal trainer. Exceptional personal trainers put even more time, effort and dedication to their craft. The experiences that personal trainers have with clients over time help them to develop their own personal style and area of expertise. Most people who are seeking out a personal trainer want someone who knows what they are doing and can deliver results. Below are a few questions to consider asking your personal trainer:
- How long have you been a Personal Trainer?
- Based on your experience, what is your area of expertise?
- Provide an example of a client that you recently helped achieve their health and fitness goals.
Philosophy as a Personal Trainer
Each personal trainer has a specific philosophy and style that evolves over time. Some personal trainers like working with de-conditioned clients who are just starting to get into exercise. Some like to work with results oriented clients who are seeking very specific physical results (i.e. bodybuilders). Some like to work with clients who are athletes looking to improve their athletic performance (i.e. marathon runners, football, basketball, etc.). Some like to work with specific client populations and special needs (i.e. active aging, rehabilitation, youth, etc.). Below are a few questions to consider asking your personal trainer:
- What types of clients do you find are a better fit for your Personal Training style?
- Briefly explain the exercises, equipment and format of a personal training program you would include to address my health and fitness goals.
- As my personal trainer, what would you do if I did not achieve my health and fitness goals in a realistic timeframe?
If the personal trainer completes the Q & A Interview to your approval they can then complete the second part of the interview process … the first training session.