The Perfect Fit: Finding A Personal Trainer

You’ve heard time and time again how important exercise is but it can still be hard to drag yourself off the couch on a regular basis.

That’s where a personal trainer can come in handy, to help you get and stay motivated to exercise. And it won’t necessarily cost you an arm and a leg, although you may end up with less of some other body parts.

The number of personal trainers in the United States is projected to increase 24 percent by the year 2020, with new professionals being certified by the American Council on Exercise (ACE), the National Academy of Sports Medicine (NASM), the National Strength and Conditioning Association (NSCA) and other accrediting groups on an ongoing basis. In addition, many community gyms, park districts and hospitals now offer some one-on-one training. And in some cases, your health insurance may help defray some of the cost.

Motivating factors

A trainer can help with accountability and motivation (not to mention checking your form to help you from preventing injury).

A gym membership won’t call and ask why you skipped your workout, but a personal trainer will. A trainer can teach you how to properly use equipment and can help you work around any health conditions or ailments, such as bad knees.

As with any new exercise program, always check with your healthcare professional before you get started.

Finding potential candidates

Just as it’s important to ask questions when you hire an accountant or an attorney, it’s equally important to do some research to find the right trainer for your fitness levels, your goals, your personality and your budget.

Ask your friends and family for suggestions. Your local park district, gym or hospital may have leads on personal trainers, even if these institutions don’t offer training services directly.

Experience counts

When you’ve found some likely prospects, start by checking out their credentials. Once you have established that a trainer has been certified by ACE, NASM, NSCA or another reputable organization, you can feel confident that his or her skills are being updated on an ongoing basis.

Some certified strength and conditioning coaches and professionals have athletic training backgrounds as well, so it’s crucial to talk to the trainer about your fitness goals and how they gel with the trainer’s professional philosophy.

If a trainer mentions he’s into marathons and distance running, for example, and you’re planning to train for sprints, it’s OK to keep looking for someone who specializes in your interests. In the best scenario, you’ll be spending a lot of time with your trainer, and you want someone with whom you’ll have a good professional relationship.

3 tips for selecting the right personal trainer

  1. Ask family and friends for recommendations.
  2. Look for certification by a reputable organization.
  3. Make sure your fitness goals and the trainer’s personal philosophy are compatible.