Making the decision to start an exercise program is an important step toward better health. However, it can be a challenging one to make if you don't know where to begin. Seeking the advice of a personal trainer can help you to get started with, and maintain, a program that is safe and appropriate for you. A personal trainer will help you to develop achievable, yet challenging, fitness goals and provide you with a plan to follow that will effectively meet those goals.
In your search for a personal trainer there are certain important points to keep in mind to ensure you sign up with a qualified and properly trained professional. Below is a list of criteria that your trainer should meet.
Your trainer should hold a current certification by a nationally recognized organization that has been accredited by the National Commission for Certifying Agencies (NCCA). Associations for personal training certification that hold this accreditation are: the Academy of Applied Personal Training (AAPTE), the American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM), the American Council on Exercise (ACE), and the National Exercise and Sports Trainers Association (NESTA). Your trainer should also be certified in first-aid and CPR. Additional certifications for specialized training, such as a certified Cancer Exercise Trainer, could be of benefit based on your health and fitness goals.
Your personal trainer should have a college degree in a health- and fitness-related field such as exercise science, exercise physiology, or kinesiology.
Experience/Area of Expertise:
Find out how long the personal trainer has been in practice. Ask what types of clients he or she works with. For example, are his or her clients primarily athletes or older adults? If your trainer has experience with clients that have similar traits to yours, it is more likely that he or she will be able to devise a safe, appropriate, and effective exercise plan that meets your specific needs and goals.
The personal trainer should have you perform a pre-activity screening test and ask you about your personal health history to ensure that you do not have any medical conditions that need to be addressed by a physician before you can safely begin an exercise program. A fitness assessment should be part of the pre-activity screening so that an appropriate level of activity can be prescribed for you.
Ask the trainer for a list of clients or testimonials of individuals with whom he or she has worked. Contact the individuals on the list of referrals and inquire about the trainer's professionalism and training methods used during exercise sessions.
The trainer should be associated with other allied health care professionals to whom he or she can refer you for health needs and concerns beyond his or her expertise. For example, does he or she know a sports nutritionist that can develop a meal plan for you if you are training for a marathon?
Professional Liability Insurance and Terms of Contract:
The personal trainer should carry liability insurance. Inquire about the trainer's fees, services included in the fees, length of the training sessions, billing and payment procedures, and cancellation policies. Expect that the trainer will require you to sign an informed consent form or waiver prior to beginning.
Talk to the personal trainer to make sure he or she is the right fit for your personality and fitness needs. The wrong one could lead to a lack of motivation and compliance on your part.
In your search for a personal trainer you may find it useful to talk to others who have had a personal training experience; such as friends, family members, neighbors, and co-workers. Your physician may also have a list of individuals to whom he or she would refer. Contacting the organizations that provide personal training certification with questions that you may have may also prove beneficial. ACE will provide you with a list of certified trainers (www.acefitness.org/findanacepro/default.aspx
Labels: ACE, ACSM, NCCA, NESTA, personal trainer