Choosing a Personal Trainer

By: Bobby Moseley

In parts one and two of this series you learned how to get a short list of good, qualified personal trainers. This final phase is a more personal one, where you get the opportunity to talk with these trainers and find that perfect fit.

The 'Getting to Know You' Phase

In this phase you get to meet with your potential trainers, whether in a formal trial exercise session (which may be either free or one you have to pay for), a 'get acquainted' talking only session, or even an e-mail or phone exchange to swap information about each other.

The first thing the trainer should do is get a medical history for you and a list of your goals. Without this he/she has no way of determining the correct program for you. If they don't ask for these things and want to just get started right away with your sessions, it's likely they don't have your best interests in mind. Either that or they haven't been properly trained themselves.

Your medical history

This is an extremely important step for the trainer to take. It will reveal if you are at risk for cardiovascular disease, and identify any other health challenges your program will need to account for. If anything out of the ordinary is identified, for example you display numerous risk factors for a heart attack, the trainer should request you receive medical clearance before participating in a training program. If the trainer doesn't require a medical history don't hesitate to ask why.

Certified trainers are typically required to have CPR certification, but they would obviously prefer to help you prevent a heart attack instead of causing one for you.

Your List of Fitness Goals

This is an easy one. When your trainer-to-be wants to talk about your goals, just whip out the list you learned to create in part 1 of this series. They can then work off of that list and will probably probe deeper by asking additional questions in order to design the proper program. This is also a good time to include a list of question you have related to fitness.

This list of fitness goals should include a discussion on your preferred methods of exercise. The more you enjoy certain forms of exercise, the more likely you will be to continue a program long term. A good trainer will want you to continue your fitness program long after your need for them has passed, so placing you in a program you enjoy is essential. A poor trainer is only interested in you if they can continue to make money off you by scheduling more training sessions. If they try to wedge you into a program that isn't right for you then they probably fall into the latter category, or they simply don't have the expertise to adapt the one program they know how to run. Many trainers will simply put you on the same program they use for themselves, and the majority of the time this isn't appropriate.

Decision Time

At this point you should have all the information you need to select a trainer. If you're sure about your decision, you can often get a discount by purchasing multiple sessions up front. If you have any doubts, start off more slowly with fewer sessions because you can always purchase additional groups of sessions when you become more comfortable. And be honest with the trainer that you want to make sure the fit between you and him/her is right before committing long term. A quality trainer will understand and not apply unnecessary pressure.

Conclusion

I can actually condense the contents of this article in one simple statement. Do your homework. Act as if you were hiring this person for a very important position in your company, because in a very real way you ARE hiring them. Personal training isn't usually cheap, and you want to make sure you get the most out of the money you're spending. Even more importantly you want to make sure your trainer doesn't put you in harm's way, which would be the opposite of your ultimate objective of being healthier and more fit.

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