1) Look for an NCCA-accredited professional
A personal trainer should hold a current NCCA-accredited certification. This will give you the assurance that you are working with a professional who has the knowledge and skills to provide you with a safe and effective workout.
The National Commission for Certifying Agencies (NCCA) has decades of experience accrediting health professions such as registered dietitians, nurses, athletic trainers, and occupational therapists. A fitness industry initiative launched in 2003 called for organizations offering personal trainer certifications to seek NCCA-accreditation of their certification exams in order to raise the standard of personal training and better serve and protect consumers. Currently, only 10 of nearly 70 certification agencies have achieved this recognition. For a complete list of the NCCA-accredited certification agencies, visit the ICE webiste and select “Fitness and Wellness”. Never be afraid to ask to see a copy of a personal trainer’s certification to ensure that it is current. You can always contact a certification agency to verify a trainer’s status. Most certification renewal periods run between 2-4 years and require that personal trainers take continuing education designed to keep them up-to-date on the latest information and training techniques.
2) Consider experience and specialization
Ask how many years of experience a personal trainer has working with clients, particularly those with your needs or limitations. Does he/she have expertise in a certain area of fitness or prefer to work with certain types of clients, for example sports conditioning, pre-natal fitness or post-rehabilitation? If you have a medical condition or a past injury, a personal trainer should design a session that accounts for this. If you are receiving care for a medical or orthopedic condition, a personal trainer should obtain your consent to discuss exercise guidelines and contraindications with your healthcare provider. Your personal trainer should also ask the doctor for medical clearance.
3) Choose the right training environment
Some personal trainers are one man/women shows that come to you and train you at your building and/or outdoors, others are employed by large gyms or work for specialized personal training only studios. You should consider what kind of environment you want to train at and if you will have the right equipment available to reach your objectives. Working out at your home gym, the gym room at your building or outdoors may not provide you with the professional equipment you need to best results. Large gyms are usually well equipped but you have to share the space with many other members, especially at crowded peak hours. Specialized personal training studios usually provide a focused training environment and the right equipment. Just make sure that the place you choose is conveniently located so that you can comfortably built your training schedule into your day.
4) Do your research
Do a search online and find out if other clients have reviewed the personal trainer you’re looking at. Also, ask the trainer for names, phone numbers and testimonials of other clients he/she has worked with, particularly those who share similar traits and goals. Trainers may be more likely to empathize and understand your unique challenges and needs if they’ve worked with similar clients. If available, call previous clients to see if they were satisfied with their training experience and results. Inquire whether the personal trainer was professional, punctual and prepared, and whether the client’s individual needs were addressed.
5) Consider the rates
Personal training fees vary based on a trainer’s experience and reputation, facility prices and geographic area, but they are well worth the investment. Although you may meet with your trainer more frequently at first, your financial investment should decrease as you become more independent, knowledgeable and fit.
6) Check for professional liability insurance and business policies
Find out if the trainer you want to hire carries professional liability insurance. A reputable personal trainer should make sure you understand the cancellation policy and billing procedures. The best way to avoid confusion and to protect your rights is to have those policies in writing.
7) Trust your instincts
Developing a personal, yet professional relationship with your trainer is very important. Ask yourself if you think you could get along well with the trainer and whether you think the trainer is genuinely interested in helping you. The personal trainer you select should motivate you using positive, not negative, reinforcement. Importantly, that trainer should be someone you like.
8) Decide if this is someone you can work with
Some people like to exercise in the morning, some in the evening. Can a personal trainer accommodate your schedule? What about the trainer’s gender? Some people do better working with a trainer of the same sex; others prefer the opposite sex. The knowledgeable and experienced personal trainer who fits your style is the one to hire – because that is the professional who will help you achieve the best results.
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