How to Hire a Personal Trainer
Check it out. If you're thinking about working with a personal trainer, those may be the three most important words in your vocabulary. Before you start any program, you need to know some vital information.
The first thing you should ask for is a current certificate from one of the national personal training certification companies. If your trainer hasn't taken the time to get certified, you need to ask yourself how they learned what they're trying to teach you.
You can confirm their license is current by making one phone call. If you don't know what companies are reputable, here's a list of the top ones in alphabetical order.
SCAM ALERT! In 2012 IDEA Health & Fitness Association found that 36% of people who CLAIMED to be a certified trainer were NOT actually certified! When someone tells you they're certified, CHECK UP ON IT.
Aerobic and Fitness Association of America (AFAA)
American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM)
American Council on Exercise (ACE)
American Fitness Professionals Association (AFPA)
National Academy of Sports Medicine (NASM)
National Council on Strength and Fitness (NCSF)
National Endurance and Sports Trainers Association (NESTA)
National Exercise Trainers Association (NETA)
National Federation of Professional Trainers (NFPT)
National Strength and Conditioning Association (NSCA)
Certification by one of these organizations is no guarantee of a good trainer, but it's a start.
Your first visit with a personal trainer should NOT be a workout. They should go over your goals (making sure they are realistic) and assess your physical condition. Serious health problems will require clearance from a doctor.
Get in writing the hourly fees and any rules about whether you pay for sessions you missed or have to cancel. Be wary if a trainer tries to sign you up for a non-refundable long-term commitment or asks for cash under the table.
Your trainer should also have a current CPR (cardiopulmonary resuscitation) certificate and a first-aid certificate. They're easy to get from local charities like the American Red Cross or the American Heart Association. Because working out is a strenuous activity, you want someone who's trained to help if an emergency happens.
Speaking of emergencies, ask your trainer for a copy of their liability insurance certificate and then call the company to verify they're covered. If they work as an employee, make sure the facility you're working out in covers them. In many cases, trainers will work as independent contractors, so they should carry their own insurance. A policy covering them for $500,000 is a reasonable minimum amount.
If your trainer doesn't have insurance and the facility they're working in won't cover them, run away as fast as you can. To get insurance, trainers must have current certificates and credentials. If they don't carry any, that means they're either not insurable because of previous problems or they simply don't care enough to make sure you'll be protected. If an insurance company won't take the risk on them, you shouldn't either.
A trainer is hired to push you, but there is a fine line between a healthy push and an unrealistic shove. Generally, workouts should not increase by more than 10 percent each week. Consider it a warning sign of a poor trainer if you are experiencing extreme muscle pains or injury. Mild soreness should be expected, it shows your muscles are being torn down and rebuilding themselves stronger. But if you can't walk upstairs or wash your face, your muscles are seriously inflamed and you might have been pushed too hard.
You should get a new workout routine every 6 to 10 weeks. Changing routines keeps your muscles challenged and helps you avoid boredom.
Your trainer should never leave you alone on a piece of equipment. You are hiring them to help YOU improve, not chat with their friends.
You should get a workout program customized for YOU. Someone who wants to improve their tennis game would have quite a different workout from someone who wants to put on 20 pounds of muscle.
A good personal trainer will write down every set, rep and weight. Plus, they should make notes if you have any particular problems so they can work with you to improve. Nobody can remember every detail of every client. If your trainer isn't writing everything down. they aren't doing their job.
If your trainer guarantees you will lose weight, tries to sell you supplements or is pushing a diet plan, dump them. Some trainers are given basic instructions on diet and nutrition. But it's just that, basic information. For detailed dietary information or a nutritional plan, a trainer should refer you to a registered dietician.
A personal trainer is not a doctor. If you ask your trainer about drug interactions and working out or the medical consequences of specific actions, they should say, "let's talk to your doctor together."
Ask for references. What do other clients think of their training style? Did they help them make progress? Would they use them again? If they don't use them anymore, why not? If you've got specific health issues, try and talk to other clients they have helped with the same problems.
Inspect the facility you'll be working out in as closely as your trainer. Here are some basics to look for. If you're doing a lot of cardio, make sure the air is clean and free of mold. Look at the equipment and see that it's well maintained and that cables don't show signs of fraying or wear. Weights should be on racks, off the floor and there should be sweat towels available for everyone.
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Confirm that there's a first aid kit nearby to handle minor cuts or bruises. One of the most important safety things you should look for is an AED (Automatic External Defibrillator) and ask if anyone is trained to use it. Each of those things may seem minor, but the last thing you want to do is hurt yourself and have your trainer scramble trying to figure out how they'll deal with it.
Finally, protect your wallet. Because anyone can call themselves a personal trainer, you don't want to be scammed. It's easy for a "trainer" to take your money upfront and then disappear without providing the service. You can protect yourself by paying with a credit card. Then, if you don't get the sessions or services you paid for, your credit card company will reimburse you for the balance.
Hiring a personal trainer is a big decision. You'll be working closely with whomever you choose, so take a few minutes to "check it out" and make your decision with all the facts.
Are you paying to have your personal trainer workout with you?
Don't do it!
Would you like a waiter that ate food off your plate? How about a bartender that took a drink from your glass?
When you hire a personal trainer, the focus should be entirely on YOU for health and safety reasons. Unless the sessions are free, paying a personal trainer to workout with you is cheating you out of a good workout.
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CAUTION: Check with your doctor before
beginning any diet or exercise program.