Until recently, personal trainers were considered a “luxury good,” reserved for the idle rich who lacked the will to work independently. Both male and female lycra-clad ‘dollies’ were much sought after for their aesthetic value and their inane screams of ‘one more rep’ and ‘you can do it’ (under the pretense of motivation) and were compensated handsomely for their services as aren’t-a-friend,’ the ultimate workout accessory.
Personal training, however, has changed dramatically during the past five years. It rose like a phoenix from its humble, unskilled beginnings to become one of the fastest-growing occupations of our time.
The best personal trainers of today know as much or more about the human body and how it works as many doctors do. Indeed, among the industry’s most elite are individuals trained in strength, conditioning, flexibility, rehabilitation, nutrition, psychology, life counseling, and various therapies.
More and more “average” people—those with “average” occupations and “average” incomes—are turning to personal trainers because they’re tired of obtaining “average” outcomes (minimal) from their exercise and dietary regimens. With the super trainer’ on their side, they expect faster and easier results than ever before.
Do they have a point? Never, ever!
A competent trainer can’t make decisions for you; all they can do is inspire you to take the proper actions and hold you accountable for the results. You’re the one who needs to watch what you eat, hit the gym, and stay on track. Results come from working harder, more frequently, and brighter than ever, and a skilled trainer will help you do all three.
However, some trainers are far superior to others and can help you achieve tremendous success than you would. The problem is, where would you look for such an animal? What criteria should you use to choose whether the trainer is worth your time, money, and effort?
Let’s consider the following, then.
There are dozens, if not hundreds, of fitness certification organizations, all with their requirements for education and testing. Various programs lead to the “personal trainer” title, some of which may be studied and completed on the weekend, while others might take 3–4 years.
The most respected and sought-after credentials right now are awarded by:
The National Academy of Sports Medicine (NASM) Certified Personal Trainer and Performance Enhancement Specialist Premier Training and Development credential offers a comprehensive credential in exercise, nutrition, and sports therapy.
Providing advanced, specialized training to already-qualified educators is the goal of Functionally Integrated Training Systems (F.I.T).
C.H.E.K. Practitioner Levels 1-4 from the CHEK Institute
Health Fitness Instructor YMCA Accredited by the American College of Sports Medicine Certificate in Physical Fitness Instruction
As was previously said, those above are far from the only available certifications and degree programs. Ensure that whichever your trainer uses gives them the information to coach you safely and effectively according to your needs.
In what ways have they failed?
Until individuals have experience in the field, certificates from any organization are essentially meaningless.
Those with the most academic clout rarely have practical experience in the field. As a result, they may lack the interpersonal and customer-centric abilities necessary to provide individualized service in favor of strict adherence to procedure. You may expect a secure workout environment without paying a hefty price.
Where do they put their focus and expertise?
Not every fitness instructor is the same. In the same way, medical professionals can specialize in a wide range of subfields, and those in the fitness industry can do the same. Finding a trainer specializing in your area of need is a good idea if you are serious about achieving your goals.
Elite-level trainers, such as Kinetic Chain Specialists and Corrective Exercise Specialists, are emerging with the advanced evaluation and programming skills necessary to address postural imbalances and muscular dysfunctions using integrative approaches to health and fitness.
In search of relief from the symptoms of disease, injury, or chronic health problems, more and more people are turning to these specialists, who have earned a reputation for leaving no stone unturned in their quest for answers.
Experts in performance enhancement and strength and conditioning know how to evaluate the demands of different sports and tailor their clients’ training plans accordingly. These trainers have extensive experience in helping people reach their fitness and performance goals and preventing and recovering from injuries.
Professional Fitness Coach
The gym sector relies heavily on personal trainers, who can range in experience and education. These professionals have extensive training in health-based exercise and may offer continuous assistance to anyone looking to enhance their overall health and fitness.
Weight management, golf conditioning, rehabilitation, fall prevention, children’s conditioning, and fitness for the elderly are some areas where one might get certified.
How are they maintaining their proficiency levels?
Finding a trainer with ten years of expertise in the field can be impressive, but you should always inquire how that time was spent. How many seminars and classes have they taken? In what areas?
Prompt them to share some insight into their recent education. They will always seek new information if they are genuinely interested in the field. If not, then they are only interested in your cash.
How about insurance?
Feel free to inquire. Any credible trainer will have insurance that protects you and them in an accident. If they cannot provide proof of insurance, it’s likely because they lack the necessary credentials to be insured. If you get hurt while training with them, you might be unable to file a compensation claim.
Will they be joining REPS?
To keep the health and fitness sectors running at a high level, the Register of Exercise Professionals (REPS) was established. All registered trainers and teachers must demonstrate annual evidence of continuing education to maintain their status.
Many physical therapists (PTs) have yet to sign up for REPS because it is not yet a mandated industry standard.
How much money are we talking about here?
It’s hard to give a general answer because there are so many factors to consider (such as a trainer’s education, experience, and area of expertise). Still, in the London area, you can expect to pay anywhere from £40 for an hour with a personal trainer at a gym to £85-£100 for a fully qualified kinetic chain specialist.
Is there any way to reduce the price?
Some trainers give discounts for groups of 10 or more, some let you train with a friend at a reduced rate, and still others help you stick to your financial plan by meeting with you once a month and giving you fresh challenges and routines to keep you motivated. The finest trainers will provide you with all three; some will even let you do shorter sessions more frequently.
If either of these approaches seems good to you, consult your trainer about making the most of your training sessions. However, being skeptical of anyone telling you you must do more than three weekly sessions would be best.
Can you get some recommendations or reviews?
A simple idea that is rarely put into practice. In the past eight years, I can count the times I was requested for recommendations on the one hand.
What you’re thinking about is pretty significant. Both monetarily and in terms of risk to your health and safety. Always get a list of references upon request, and don’t be afraid to phone them to verify your suspicions.
Well, how about YOU?
You’ve asked many questions, but don’t forget that this is all about YOU! You might think twice about working with a trainer if they spend much time discussing themselves and their credentials without asking you much about yourself. After all, you are supposedly receiving INDIVIDUAL instruction!
They should inquire briefly about your motivations, health, exercise routine, and current way of life. They need to find out what motivated you to choose a trainer, what you hope to accomplish with their help, and how you’d like to be handled during your sessions.
Stay far, far away from You are the one footing the bill and calling the shots in this relationship, so don’t let anyone convince you otherwise.
Not only will asking yourself the questions above help you find the ideal personal trainer for your needs, but they will also help you avoid common mistakes when making your final decision.
The decision should be based on how you feel at your first meeting with the professional and your preferences. Try different options if you have doubts. You can pick from among the more than 2,000 new personal trainers that enter the UK market annually.
Whatever you decide, keep in mind that YOU are the one who must put in the effort.
Dax Moy is a master personal trainer and performance lifestyle coach in and around London.
Dax has been featured in numerous international health and fitness magazines and is widely recognized as one of the leading fitness gurus in the UK.
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