Personal Trainer Practice

Personalized guidance and motivation...Screen shot 2011-06-03 at 6.26.20 PM

Whether your goal is to lose weight, gain muscle or stay healthy, using a personal trainer could be an important step in reaching it. You don't have to use a personal trainer to get a good workout, but personal trainers are a great resource for getting you started on the right foot. To get the most of your personal trainer do your research and don't settle for less than what you need to get a great workout.

Personal trainers can help you to lose weight, strengthen your muscles and get in better overall shape. They should provide credible information, develop personal fitness programs and motivate clients who are in need of some extra guidance and help. But, before you hire a personal trainer it's wise to ask a few important questions and clearly identify your goals.

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You can expect: motivation, guidance, get in better shape

Level of Effort: Easy to Difficult - you make the choice

Time Involved: 30 minutes (or more) - you make the choice


Getting Started:

  1. Determine your goals for working with a trainer
  2. Find the right trainer
  3. Determine your desired budget, location and time available
  4. Evaluate qualifications
  5. Evaluate the trainer's working style
  6. What to expect from your trainer - fitness plan and workout sessions
  7. Review and communicate your expectations and satisfaction


What to Consider:



1. Determine your goals for working with a trainer

People choose to hire a personal trainer for many reasons, including weight loss, cardiovascular improvement, marathon training, injury rehabilitation, pre/postnatal fitness, or just getting into better shape. If you have a specialized goal it is important to find a trainer who has experience in the type of training you seek.


2. Find the right trainer

Begin your search for a trainer by narrowing down the list of possibilities based on your budget, availability and preferred training location. Once you have narrowed down the list of possible trainers based on your requirements, you will want to evaluate their qualifications and working style. It is recommend that you interview at least three personal trainers carefully before making your decision. You will want your personal trainer to exhibit the same qualities you demand of any provider of professional services, say, your tax preparer or dentist-a high degree of knowledge in their field, demonstrated expertise, plus a personality that's compatible with yours.

Sample Trainer evaluation questions:

  1. What locations do you work out of?
  2. What is your rate per session? Do you offer any discounts or package deals?
  3. What is your exercise and educational background?
  4. What is your level of personal training experience?
  5. What Days and Hours Are You Available To Train?
  6. What is your exercise and educational background?
  7. Are you certified and registered by a nationally recognized organization?
  8. Do You Have and Referrals? Can you give me references from other clients and industry professionals familiar with your knowledge and abilities?
  9. Do You Carry Personal Trainer Liability Insurance?
  10. What is your communication style with clients? How would you describe your personal style (i.e. personality)?
  11. How do you keep current on the latest personal training techniques, research and trends? Do you have a network of professionals, such as physicians, dietitians, physical therapist and other fitness/health professionals?


3. Determine your desired budget, location and time available

Your first step with searching for a trainer is to find one that will fit your budget and workout needs as far as hours and location.


Workout Location: What locations do you work out of?

Some personal trainers work out of specific gyms or studios, some work out of their homes, while others will travel to your home. You want to be certain that the trainer you hire will meet you in a safe environment in which you feel comfortable.

  • If a trainer you are interviewing works only in one fitness center, ask her if you must be a member of that center and if there are extra fees associated with joining that gym.
  • If she will travel to your home, be certain you have the space and equipment you will need to follow her fitness plan.
  • If you belong to a gym they might have trainers available, included in your membership or for an additional fee. Many gyms offer personal training programs, which include a specified number of sessions with the membership.
  • If you want to join a gym in conjunction with getting a trainer visit a few gyms and observe how the personal trainers there interact with their clients.


Budget: What is your rate per session? Do you offer any discounts or package deals?

Determine your budget overall for working with a trainer. This should include your estimate for the overall length of time you intend for the relationship and the budget per session.

  • Personal training rates could range from $20 to $100 per hour-long session, with the majority charging between $25 and $50.
  • Discounts are often available for multi-session purchases, for higher frequency (three times a week instead of two), and for training multiple clients at the same time.
  • Determine if you are merely looking for a one-time consultation about your exercise program, or do you want to establish a long-term working relationship.
  • For a modest fee, many personal trainers will perform a one-time fitness assessment and design a workout regimen tailored to your needs.


Availability: What Days and Hours Are You Available To Train?

If you're schedule requires you to work out in the morning, at lunch or in the evenings, be aware that these are the most popular times demanded by clients. You don't want to feel "locked into" a time but you should consider how flexible you are willing to be along with finding a trainer who will be able to work within your schedule. Ask what days of the week and hours your personal trainer has available. Additionally find out how easy it is to cancel or change your appointment.


Policies: Do you provide clear-cut policies on cancellations, billing and etc. in writing?

Having all policies clearly stated in writing helps avoid any misunderstandings or confusion and protects your rights as a consumer.


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4. Evaluate Qualifications

Unfortunately anyone can call himself a personal trainer, so you need to be particular when choosing the right one. There is no regulations or oversight of people who call themselves and work as personal trainers. Anyone can become a personal trainer over a weekend with very little or no experience working with people. Therefore, you must ask the appropriate questions when shopping for a personal trainer. Look for education, certification and solid references. The following questions will help you evaluate a personal trainer's credentials and determine whether his or her expertise is appropriate to your needs.


Education: What is your exercise and educational background?

The most basic question you must ask a possible trainer is about their educational background. A degree is not necessary to be a personal trainer, but is definitely a plus for someone who wants to be respected within the field.

  • Education in exercise science, human physiology and anatomy, anatomy, biomechanics exercise leadership and/or nutrition tells you that a personal trainer knows something about health and fitness.
  • Those with a master's degree should have experience and knowledge working with geriatrics, youths, pregnant women and athletes.
  • To properly design a safe and effective workout, a personal trainer should have a good grounding in exercise technique, including exercise physiology, anatomy and injury prevention.
  • A four-year degree in a fitness-related field indicates the personal trainer knows at least the basics of conducting a quality session


Experience: What is your level of personal training experience?

Make sure that the trainer has at least two years of work experience or one year of internship in an athletic, physical rehabilitation or similar work environment.


Certification: Are you certified and registered by a nationally recognized organization?

Ask trainers if they have any certifications and if so whom was the certifying professional body. Additionally, ask for copies of the certifications. Certifying organizations set the standards in the health fitness industry, and certified personal trainers must meet minimum requirements. Before the agencies certify a potential trainer, they educate him on health and fitness issues, train him on various fitness techniques and equipment. Additionally, personal trainer certifications require that the person have a current CPR certification. While emergencies during training are extremely rare, be sure your personal trainer knows precisely what to do in case one should arise during your session. There are dozens of certifying agencies but the most widely recognized in the U.S. are:

  • The American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM)
  • National Strength and Conditioning Association (NSCA)
  • American Council on Exercise (ACE)
  • National Academy of Sports Medicine (NASM)
  • PTA Global

A good trainer should be certified by at least one nationally accredited certification organization. It is a good idea to ask for copies of the trainer's certifications and then contact the certifying agency directly to verify that the personal trainer actually has the certification claimed and that it is still current.

You can also ask if a personal trainer has any specialty qualifications that might be helpful for a particular fitness goal. Some trainers receive specialized training in areas like strength building or Pilates. To verify the legitimacy of a trainer's specialty certification check online with the National Commission for Certifying Agencies.


References: Do You Have and Referrals? Can you give me references from other clients and industry professionals familiar with your knowledge and abilities?

An experienced trainer will be willing to provide contact information for a few past clients and professional references. You'll want to make sure his services are legitimate and other clients have seen the results they desired. Calling references can help you gauge whether the personal trainer has the expertise to properly serve your specific needs. Be sure people he has trained are happy with his style, work ethic and professionalism. If he is new to the personal training profession, ask to speak with people he has worked with in past jobs.

  • Ask for recommendations from other competent professionals such as a doctor, physical therapist, chiropractor, and nutritionist or massage therapist count as referrals for qualified personal trainers.
  • Ask for references to make sure that current and past clients are happy and satisfied with the trainer's services and expertise.


Insurance: Do You Carry Personal Trainer Liability Insurance?

All independent personal trainers must carry liability insurance, unless they are working as employees. The insurance must cover policies clearly stated in writing helps avoid any misunderstandings or confusion and protects your rights as a consumer. It must also cover personal and property damage, sexual harassment, negligence and other torts. It is important for your personal trainer to have liability insurance in case you are injured while working out with him or her.

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5. Evaluate Working Style

A quality personal trainer will always motivate you through positive, not negative, reinforcement, and should never make you feel incompetent or inadequate. Your personal trainer should listen to you carefully to determine your goals and needs, communicate an understanding of them, and tell you why the program that has been designed is appropriate. He or she should also ask for your input on your program, and be prepared to put in writing the principles and reasoning behind exercise program decisions.


Personality: What is your communication style with clients? How would you describe your personal style?

Give careful consideration to personality when looking for a personal trainer who will be a good match for you. The problem is there really are no questions that a possible trainer can answer that will tell you about their personality ensure that you and the trainer will have a good relationship. Instead it is important to observe the trainer as they are answering other question to see if they provide any queues about their personality. Look for a personal trainer who will continuously offer you support along the way and make you feel good about yourself.

  • A trainer with a more extrovert-type personality may not be a good match for a client who has a conservative behavior.
  • Likewise, a serious, professor-like trainer may not be a good match with a happy-go-lucky client.
  • Make sure your personal trainer's approach-energetic versus relaxed, aggressive versus low-key-fits your personal style.
  • You will experience good results if you are comfortable with your personal trainer

You can also attempt to assess a trainer's personality through their communication style. The questioning process along with observation of mannerisms should help you determine the trainer's communication skills, qualifications, professionalism and good will.


Professionalism: How do you keep current on the latest personal training techniques, research and trends? Do you have a network of professionals, such as physicians, dietitians, physical therapist and other fitness/health professionals?

Fitness is a fast-moving field, and you want to be able to rely on your personal trainer for current information on fitness, exercise and healthy lifestyle activities. Membership in a professional association is one way to tell the personal trainer is staying abreast of the latest information on a variety of important topics. You must also be able to rely on your trainer for the latest information on exercise strategies, nutrition and lifestyles. This ensures that your trainer is keeping with the standards of professionalism.

Additionally, a quality personal trainer should have established sources for specialized questions and referrals to provide you with the best service possible.


6. What to expect while working with your trainer

A personal trainer works with clients to educate, train, motivate, and guide them towards living a healthy lifestyle. Most personal trainers will first conduct extensive analysis of your health, abilities and goals. After they talk with you at length and possibly observe your initial performance in a gym, they will write a plan for you. This plan will detail your goals and the steps you will take to meet your goals. Most plans outline your shared expectations for how long and how often you will work out, where you will meet, and your trainer's fees and payment plan. This is your personal trainer's contract to you and your pledge to her that you are committed to her program. Your personal trainer should also motivate you to stay on track and make sure your workouts are safe, enjoyable and effective.


Health Assessment - When your trainer begins to design your exercise program he should start with an assessment of your physical fitness level, an evaluation of your health history and a review of your current lifestyle. He may also encourage you to consult with a physician before beginning the program.

  • The fitness assessment should measure your: body mass index, current strength, cardiovascular health and flexibility.
  • The assessment should include a blood pressure test, a body composition test, posture test, movement screening and cardiovascular capabilities.
  • Your trainer should ask questions about your lifestyle, including your eating habits, whether you smoke or drink, and other activities that could affect your ultimate health.
  • Many medical conditions or past injuries can affect your participation in a training session and the program your personal trainer designs for you. A quality personal trainer needs to know relevant details of your past medical history, including any medications you may be taking, before he or she can provide you with an effective workout.
  • If you are under a doctor's care for certain conditions, your personal trainer will need to discuss any exercise concerns with your physician.


Customized Exercise Program - A personal trainer should tailor an exercise program to help you achieve your individual fitness goals and will push you gradually to do more on your own.

  • The program should include a variety of activities and cover cardiovascular exercise as well as strength training and flexibility.
  • The plan should include instructions if there is anything you should do in preparation for each session or following the sessions.
  • Additionally, he or she should encourage you to make optimal use of your time when working out. The best trainers teach you proper exercise technique, evaluate progress and adjust your program as needed. Good trainers explain the purpose of each exercise and offer positive feedback to their clients. He or she should also take steps to tailor your program to your unique needs throughout the life of your training relationship. You should feel free to bring up questions or concerns you have at any time.


Focus On Reasonable Goals, Not Unattainable Results - No reputable personal trainer will promise you unattainable results, such as you will lose 30 pounds in 30 days. It is vital both for your health and your motivation to set realistic, achievable goals. This prevents disillusionment and disappointment, raises your chances of success and is a proven technique to keep you moving toward your goals.


Continuous teaching and motivation - A personal trainer should provide you with healthy lifestyle habit advice throughout your working relationship. This advice should include nutritional, fitness and physical conditioning information. Furthermore, in order for a client to reach their full potential, a desire must be nurtured through recognition and praise. Different things motivate different people. A good personal trainer motivates with enthusiasm and is a reflective of how to inspire passion in her clients.


Exercise Routine and Schedule - You will want to determine the length, frequency and intensity of your workout sessions and then prioritize them on your calendar..

  • Length - determine the length of your workouts
  • Frequency - determine how often you workout during the week
  • Schedule it  - set aside the days and times you will perform your workouts so that you are more likely to stick with it. Remember the idea is to make it a habit, so schedule at least 4 sessions, don't miss or change them and you are on your way.
  • Activity variety - a personal trainer should help you keep things fresh so you don't get bored and so you stay on top of trends. Additionally they should keep pushing you to try new things.


Workout tracking and progress - Your trainer should keep track of your workouts, chart your progress and update your medical history periodically. Your personal trainer will help you establish realistic short- and long-term goals and assess your progress towards them. He or she might chart areas such as weight; percent body fat, body measurements, cardiovascular improvements, strength and endurance. By updating your medical history from time to time, your personal trainer will also be able to adjust your workouts as necessary to reflect your new abilities.


7. Review, Evaluate and Communicate

  • Throughout your relationship with your trainer you should feel comfortable enough to provide feedback and communicate your satisfaction.
  • Based on your determined working relationship with your trainer be sure to include any plans for moving forward with your exercise program and changing things up after the relationship has ended.
  • Write in your activity journal - Even though your trainer should help you keep track of your workouts and progress it is a good idea to keep your own record to evaluate how you felt before and after certain activities and what you really enjoyed. Learn more…


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