In most countries, there are no regulations for the personal training industry, ANYONE can be a personal trainer. As such, you need to be very careful in choosing one. Having the wrong personal trainer can be dangerous (read: Permanent long term injuries). My team and I have had new clients getting us as their trainers as the ones that they had were either not producing results or causing them injuries.
We’re not biased – yes we’re good, qualified and experienced, but there are many good trainers out there too. Read on and learn who you should choose.
Testimonials – Get genuine testimonials from their existing clients. As above, anyone can put a before and after photo (which they can buy online) on their website. You’d want to find those that are unscripted and unbiased 🙂
Certifications – Anybody can call themselves a trainer, as such you should be very careful in choosing one. Find one who is preferably certified internationally -such as those from American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM), National Academy of Sports Medicine (NASM) or National Strength and Conditioning Association (NSCA). These certification bodies are reputable and trainers need to put in a lot of hours studying before getting certified. Their exams are usually stringent. Good personal trainers usually have multiple certifications to their name.
In house certifications from private gyms may be good – but nowhere close to certifications from neutral fitness bodies.
Diplomas and Degrees – Choose one that have a diploma or better still a degree in sports science or exercise. These trainers are serious about exercise and devote lots of time learning about physical fitness and exercise. Check which institutions their diplomas from – get a personal trainer from a reputed college.
Ability to teach the exercises & Teaching Certifications -National Coaching Accredition Practice (NCAP) – Anybody can learn and get certified. Get one that can use what they learn and TEACH you in an effective manner. This is a national program and is run by the Singapore Sports Council. There are also personal trainers with teaching diplomas and degrees too, look out for these. Your personal training sessions would with him/her will be of higher quality as he can impart and share his knowledge better that the average trainer.
Experience – The longer the experience in personal training and coaching the trainer has, the higher the chances that he is mature in this field and able to work with you, especially if he has experience in working with different populations (different types of people – body types/injuries/goals). Beware of fly by night trainers who try to make an extra buck. Get full time fitness professionals to give you professional advice. Remember, part time trainers means you’ll get part time service!
Trainers in Big Fitness Centres – Many trainers start out from these big fitness centres as they do not have a client base to start a career. So by joining a gym, they get referrals and personal training assignments by members who sign up at the gyms. What’s disturbing is that there might be some who are not qualified in fitness but are employed in these gyms – they go through a 1 or 2 weeks crash course in fitness and gets certified by the in house senior trainer.
These new trainers published rates at these gyms may also be very high – starting from $80 to $100 per session. A little secret to share – most in house trainers get 25 to 45% of what you pay them – the balance goes to the fitness centres.
The trainers who are confident in their services usually move out of these gyms and have slightly higher asking rates. They also do not share with any mega gyms and the payment you make to them goes to them straight. Which means, you pay the same amount but your trainer gets a higher pay than those working full time in gyms – the amount they deserve.
Professional development: Scientific researches happen everyday. In the process of selecting your trainer, ask him what he is doing / will do about this professional development. How updated is he with regards to new knowledge?
Cost: You get what you pay for. Here you can hire trainers for $20 an hour. Please think before signing up with them, and check if they have what it takes to be one. Professional trainers earn $80 to $500 an hour. That being said, be careful when choosing trainers who overcharge – rates should match level of education, experience, clientele profile, etc.
Knowledge about how to adapt a training program to special populations, and to work around injuries. Exercise prescription skill in a trainer is essential if you want to see your results fast without getting any injuries. Ask him how to work with the current injuries (if you have any). Usually personal trainers who are certified as mentioned above are able to work with different populations as they are trained to do so during the certification process.
Creativity – A personal trainer who is able to give you multiple programs will add variety to your workouts. If not, they can be quite mundane and the possibility of you losing interest in your exercise program.
Professionalism and courtesy -Every trainer should abide by a code of ethics – check out his website or ask him about ethical issues that he believes in. Proper personal training is about achieving your fitness goals effectively, efficiently and professionally.
Talk the talk and walk the walk – Your trainer should practice what he preaches. Be careful though – there are trainers who look good but are on steroids – huge biceps and body by injecting harmful substances in their bodies. As steroids help increase the body’s adapation to exercise, many ineffective and dangerous exercises may seem to work for them – but not for you. Different strokes for dfferent folks.
These ‘trainers’ may be doing contraindicative exercises (such as over the shoulder lat pull down and jacknife exercises) and teaching them to you. Be careful!
Champions / Winners – With all due respect to my friends who are Champion athletes and bodybuilders, you have to be careful in your selection. You’d want to hire the trainer or coach who created these champions. Champion athletes are excellent (read: The Best) in their sport, but may not have the pedagogy skills necessary to work with you. Ensure he/she has a valid fitness trainer / instructor certification and a track record of the clients that he’s been successful with. I know there who have them, but there are those who don’t.
“I was fat, now I’m thin – if I can, so can you”– Yes and No. Dietary and exercise intervention could be different for you, and may not work on you. A good trainer will be able to prescribe the right exercises that takes into account your needs and situation – body type, lifestyle, environment, resources (time) and motivation level to name a few.
Doing and teaching / coaching are two separate things altogether 🙂
Written by Sharm.
Copyright TeamFitnessGuru.com™ 2009