How Personal Training Works
Is a Personal Trainer Right For You?
A personal trainer is an expert who can guide you to achieving the results you desire in a safe and effective manner. If there are obstacles keeping you from exercising, a personal trainer is just the expert to show you the way. They are the experts at overcoming obstacles and making sure that within the shortest period of time that you can see the benefits of your efforts.
Some of the reasons you might consider enlisting the support of a personal trainer are:
- You want to achieve a fit body
- You have tried exercise and failed at achieving a physical result in the past
- You have thought about exercising but don’t know where to begin
- You are intimidated by gyms
- You are afraid to get injured
- You have health concerns
- You are training for an event
Personal trainers will educate you about your body. They will guide you through specialized exercises and share a plan for your success. Trainers will coach you towards achieving the physical results which would be difficult to achieve alone. Even advanced exercisers and athletes use personal trainers and coaches to motivate, educate and take them to levels they could not achieve alone.
Honesty, there is not a single person for whom a personal trainer would not serve them well. As long as someone is coachable, keeps an open mind to learning and is willing to do their part in showing up for workouts and following through with proper eating, sleep, supplementation and managing stress levels, everyone can benefit from a personal trainer.
Where Do You Want to Exercise?
Once you decide you want to work with a personal trainer, the next decision would be to determine where you want to exercise. Personal trainers can be hired to train in all settings from your home to theirs home, in fitness centers, personal training studios, universities, community centers, clinical settings, outdoors and so on.
Training from Home
If you want to exercise in the convenience of your home, consider your space, the ability to be uninterrupted by phones, children, pets, a home business, etc. You should also consider your equipment, although you don’t need much for a great workout. You should expect to pay a premium for a personal trainer to travel to your home. Some of the premium benefits include the convenience and your level of comfort in your home. You can also be guaranteed to actually use any equipment that the trainer recommends you invest in. Other advantages include the ability to control the temperature, music, lighting, and other environmental factors. Some of the negatives to have a personal trainer come to your home include, interruptions such as deliveries, keeping a space in your home reserved for workouts, finding a trainer you can rely on to be on time (given traffic, construction, etc) as well as your comfort level potentially having a male come into your home if you are a female. Overall having a trainer come to your home can be an excellent option for getting fit.
You can also go to a personal trainer’s home. In this case you would likely find the trainer by word of mouth. In home trainers can offer you personalized service in what may be a more comfortable and non-intimidating atmosphere. Some of the drawbacks are relying on one person. If they are ill or on vacation or there is a clash in personalities, you may need to find a new trainer.
Training at a Gym
Most people think of going to the gym to get fit. You can expect to have a variety of trainers to choose from who may have varying degrees of experience and specialties in working with different populations such as pre-natal women, seniors or with orthopedic conditions. Additional benefits include the variety of equipment, more flexible options for scheduling, amenities you can use outside of your training times such as a pool, sauna or group fitness classes as well as the motivation of being in a gym setting. Some of the drawbacks to personal training in a gym are that the gym may be over crowded, there may not be trainers available when you need one at a prime time or you may feel pressured to purchase a large package of personal training sessions. Overall exercising with a personal trainer in a gym setting is the most popular option given the benefits.
Training at Work
More employers than ever before are in favor of health promotion at the workplace. They realize the potential for corporate fitness centers to reduce costs, reduce absenteeism, and improve the welfare of employees. Most all companies have some fitness benefit which may come in the form of an on-site fitness facility, a discount to an off site gym or a dollar amount to be allocated towards fitness services such as personal training or a gym membership. Ask your human resources department what fitness benefits are available to you and also check directly with your health insurance company to see if they provide a fitness benefit.
The great outdoors has always been a viable place anyone can exercise and now personal trainers are conducting workouts outdoors as well. You can find personal trainers at parks leading group or one on one sessions. You may also see them leading a boot camp style workout in a school parking lot or in a recreation area. There are outdoor running clubs lead by personal trainers as well as any other host of other options such as stroller size and cycling training.
If you live in a community with a center, you may find a trainer there. You can also find trainers in clinical settings, and various recreational settings. Regardless of where you decide to train, you can expect to receive a challenging and productive workout. Be open to different environments.
How Often Should I Use a Personal Trainer?
Personal trainers can be seen on varying schedules depending on your abilities, goals, schedule and budget. Typically personal training is engaged in more often when a client begins training and then over time they wean off and become more independent. Guidelines from the American College of Sports Medicine state that exercise should be engaged in most days of the week.
While a person is still developing the habit of incorporating exercise as a regular part of their lives, it helps to have a personal training session 2 – 3 times weekly during the initial period of 1 – 3 months. In that time a client can see significant results, learn how to perform the basic exercises, develop exercise as a habit as well as understand the intensity to exercise within. After the initial period and when the client feels they are ready to become more independent, they can reduce the number of sessions and check in with a personal trainer on a less regular basis such as once a week, then every other week, then monthly.
During a monthly visit, the personal trainer will review your progress since the last session and provide a new workout based on your improvements and any changes to your abilities, schedule and goals.
Regardless of the intervals which you choose to see a personal trainer, you should still strive to engage in moderate to vigorous physical activity most days of the week. Having the support of a trainer aids you in achieving that fitness recommendation.
In addition to an exercise session, personal trainers are also seen for assessments and re-assessments as well as coaching sessions to review goals, identify behaviors you are ready to improve as well as establish a plan for your fitness and wellness.
How Should You Go About Finding a Qualified Personal Trainer?
The personal training industry is still maturing and although fitness professionals are aligned with other alternative health care practitioners, there is no one clear cut way to find a great personal trainer. Finding the right personal trainer can make the difference between a great workout and even no workout at all. Working with a qualified personal fitness expert keeps you motivated, on track and sure your workouts are safe, enjoyable and effective. Finding that person requires a similar approach as hiring, a dermatologist or financial planner. You want to look for a high degree of applicable knowledge and demonstrated expertise. A recent IDEA survey showed that personal trainers provide a wide variety of services, including nutritional guidance, fitness assessment, lifestyle management advice, weight control programs and many more.
The following are some secrets to securing a personal trainer who can be a perfect match for you.
- A degreed or certified fitness professional or both. Some of the top certifications to look for include: American Council on Exercise, American College of Sports Medicine, The National Strength and Conditioning Association, the National Academy of Sports Medicine, and the Aerobic and Fitness Association of America. While this list is not all inclusive, these certifying bodies are considered among the most credible and they show a minimum level of competency among trainers. Many of the certifying agencies have locator services to find a trainer by zip code. Also ask to see proof of their certification and note if the date is current.
- A degreed professional in a fitness or related field. A minimum of an associates or higher degree shows that a person has dedicated 2 or more years to the study of the exercise sciences. This should represent a person who is committed and knowledgeable.
- Someone who produces results. Look for someone who has a proven track record of transforming bodies through photos and testimonials.
- Someone who can provide letters of reference from clients. A professional personal trainer should be able to provide you with letters of reference from clients who are happy to rave about the services they provide.
- Someone who has experience working with clients who match your demographics. If a trainer specializes in seniors they may not be the best match for your young athlete or if they specialize in body building, they may not be a fit for a beginner with over 100 pounds to lose.
- A trainer who feels like a personality match for you. You may prefer a man or women or someone more your age or with similar personality traits. Until you interview the trainer, it may be hard to make that determination from a web page or friend’s reference.
- Someone who is highly recommended by a friend. Referrals are a great way to find personal trainers. Typically someone will only rave about someone or something if they are truly great. If a trusted friend is thrilled with their trainer, it would likely be a good place to begin your search.
- Through locators – There are directories that provide listings of trainers by zip code and specialty.
Decide if you are looking for a personal trainer for the long term (3 or more months) or someone to perform a fitness assessment or design a custom-tailored workout regimen.
If you belong to a fitness facility, ask the membership staff about their staff personal trainers. Friends, health professionals or your doctor are great for referrals. Check the local yellow pages, newspapers and magazines. Interview at least three candidates before making a decision. Make sure your personal trainer has liability insurance and find out how much they are insured for and if they have ever had any claims against them.
If you work traditional hours you will either want to workout in the morning, at lunchtime or in the evening. You may want to try different times to see what feels best for your body. Different personal trainers are going to be available at different times so ask how flexible your trainers hours are if you anticipate needing flexible training times.
Your personal trainer should express genuine concern for your personal needs, goals and abilities. Expect them to ask questions about your lifestyle, including eating habits, whether you smoke or drink and other activities that could affect your health.
Communication with your trainer is key. You should feel comfortable enough to bring up questions or concerns anytime.
What about if I want to find a Virtual Personal Trainer?
It’s become more popular to use technology as a source for many things and fitness is included. You can find personal trainers to send you customized workouts to you. You can also purchase pre-designed workouts. Some workouts are developed personally for you much like a personal trainer would do in person. They gather information on your health history and fitness goals and send you a customized workout based on your abilities. You may receive that workout via e-mail or go to a website and sign in as a member to retrieve your workout. Workouts can be done anywhere and are both convenient and affordable; however the responsibility is on you to do them. You can also purchase workouts that are pre-designed by trainers and sent to your PDA or iPod.
Virtual personal training is still new and while it’s still too soon to know the long term effects, information to date shows that having a virtual personal trainer falls somewhere between having a live trainer and trying to exercise on your own.
How do I Interview a Personal Trainer?
Once you have located a personal trainer, the decision is not over. You should begin by interviewing the personal trainer. The following are some questions to ask:
- Are you certified? By whom? Is it current?
- What do you specialize in?
- What is your training philosophy?
- What are your rates?
- Do you perform a fitness assessment and re-assessments?
- Do you provide nutritional information?
- Where do you train clients?
- What is your availability?
- What is your cancelation policy?
- What continuing education have they completed since getting certified?
- What would a sample workout session consist of?
- What type of equipment do you use?
- Do you offer shared sessions or 30 minute sessions?
If you are satisfied with the trainers responses, consider purchasing a session as a trial and then ultimately if it feels like the right fit making a larger investment in your fitness.