What is a Personal Trainer?
A personal trainer should be, at the least, educated and certified through a reputable fitness organization (see below). This person's job is to assess your fitness level, figure out what your goals are (or help you set goals) set up a program and keep you motivated. He or she will push you past your comfort level--something difficult to do on your own. A trainer also provides:
- Guidance on reaching your goals
- Education about strength training, cardio and basic nutrition
- A reason to show up at the gym each week
- Aays to help track your progress
What is a Session Like?
Each session usually lasts about an hour. The first meeting is devoted to assessing fitness level, body measurements, exercise and health history and goals. Be prepared to step on the scale, have your body fat tested and answer specific questions about your goals. After that, you'll spend each session doing cardio, weight training, flexibility or other activities depending on what your goals are. Your trainer will show you how to do the exercises, help you figure out how much weight to use and give you pointers for getting the most out of each exercise.
What to Look for In a Personal Trainer
- Education: A personal trainer should be certified through a reputable personal training organization. An exercise science or other related college degree isn't necessary, but the more education your trainer has, the better your workouts will be.
- CPR: your trainer should have an updated certification in CPR and/or first aid.
- Experience: Make sure your trainer has experience, especially in relation to your goals. For example, if you're a bodybuilder, you want someone knowledgeable in that area.
- Specifics: If you have a specific medical problem, injury or condition (such as being pregnant, difficulty getting pregnant, heart problems, diabetes, etc.) make sure your trainer has education in these areas and will work with your doctor.
- A good listener: A good trainer will listen closely to what you say and make sure he understands your goals.
- Attention: A good trainer will be focused only on you during your sessions.
- Tracking progress: A good trainer will regularly assess your progress and change things if necessary.
Personality is important too since you'll be working very closely with this person. Make sure you get along with your trainer and feel comfortable asking questions.
How to Find a Personal Trainer
One place to look is your local gym. Most gyms have personal trainers on staff and offer attractive packages for personal training. You can also look in your yellow pages, use Personal Trainer Finder or IDEA Fitness Connect to find trainers in your area, or search for local personal training studios. The cost will vary depending on where you live and your trainer's experience and education. Typically, the cost will be anywhere from $30 to $100 a session.
At some clubs, you may get assigned a trainer. However, one of my readers sent me these tips for doing a bit of investigation before you take the plunge:
- Get a referral from a friend who's had success in reaching their goals with a personal trainer
- When you're at the gym, watch trainers with their clients and see how they interact. Make a note of trainers who get along with their clients and seem fully involved in their workouts...that may be a good one to choose.
- If you do get assigned to a trainer, make sure you tell the manager if you'd prefer a male trainer over a female trainer or vice versa, or if there's anything special you'd like to work on (getting in shape before pregnancy, getting ready for a marathon, etc.) so you'll get a trainer with experience in that area.
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