Fitness Trainer Basics

Fitness can be defined in many different ways. To some people fitness might mean a slim waistline. To others it could be the ability to bench-press their body weight. And to others it might be a general feeling of wellness.

When you think of fitness, it’s important to look at the big picture. It’s not just about strength, endurance or fat content, but a combination of all these. You might be strong but have no endurance. You might have endurance but have little flexibility.

What you want to strive for is balance. Listed below are five key components important to a good definition of fitness. Investigate each one. Consider areas where you are strong and the areas where you are weak. Strive to improve in all these areas, because the results will permeate your overall well-being.

Why a personal trainer may be right for you.

If you want to lose weight, get healthy and/or build muscle, hiring a personal trainer can be a step in the right direction. A good trainer can help you set up a program that meets your goals and teach you the best way to exercise. Here’s what you should know before you hand over the cash

 What is a Personal Trainer?

A personal trainer should be, at the least, educated and certified through a reputable fitness organization (see below). This person’s job is to assess your fitness level, set up a program for you and keep you motivated. He or she will push you past your comfort level–something difficult to do on your own. A trainer also provides guidance on reaching your goals education about strength training, cardio and basic nutrition a reason to show up at the gym each week accountability ways to help track your progress

What is a Personal Fitness Session Like?

Each session lasts about an hour. The first meeting is devoted to assessing fitness level, body measurements, exercise and health history and goals. Be prepared to step on the scale, have your body fat tested and answer specific questions about your goals. After that, you’ll spend most of your time on strength training and cardio.

What to Look for In a Personal Trainer

  • Education: A personal trainer should be certified through a reputable fitness organization such as ACSMACE or NSCA). An exercise science or other related college degree isn’t necessary, but the more education your trainer has, the better your workouts will be.
  • CPR: your trainer should have an updated certification in CPR and/or first aid.
  • Experience: Make sure your trainer has several years of experience, especially in relation to your goals. For example, if you’re a bodybuilder, you want someone knowledgeable in that area.
  • Specifics: If you have a specific medical problem, injury or condition (such as being pregnant, heart problems, diabetes, etc.) make sure your trainer has education in these areas and will work with your doctor.
  • A good listener: A good trainer will listen closely to what you say and make sure he understands your goals.
  • Attention: A good trainer will be focused only on you during your sessions.
  • Tracking progress: A good trainer will regularly assess your progress and change things if necessary.

Personality is important too since you’ll be working very closely with this person. Make sure you get along with your trainer and feel comfortable asking questions.

Personal Trainer Warning Flags

Like all professions, personal training has its share of losers. But, just because you’re assigned to one trainer doesn’t mean you can’t work with someone else. It may be a personality conflict or you may wonder if you’re getting the best advice. Either way, here are some warning flags that it’s time to switch.

Beware if your trainer does any of the following:

  • Ignores or dismisses your questions
  • Works you so hard you’re in pain for days. Soreness is normal, but you should still be able to get out of bed
  • Neglects any part of a complete program or recommends a level of training that’s too hard for you
  • Recommends questionable supplements or herbs. Always talk to your doctor before taking anything!
  • Diagnoses injuries or illnesses instead of referring you to a doctor
  • Interrupts your session to talk to friends or take phone calls (unless it’s an emergency or can’t be avoided)
  • Doesn’t return phone calls or emails

A personal trainer should watch you, correct your alignment, and explain what you’re doing and why. If you’re having problems, talk to them–they may not be aware there’s a problem. Another option is to talk to the manager or terminate your sessions and look for a different trainer. It’s your money and your body…you have a right to get what you want and a good trainer will understand that.

How to Help Your Personal Trainer

You can help your trainer do a better job by being a good client.

  • Save the chit-chat for after your session.
  • Be prepared by bringing your own towel and a full water bottle.
  • Give at LEAST 24 hour notice if you need to cancel or reschedule
  • If you have questions, write them down and bring them to your session–you’ll spend less time talking and more time working out.
  • If you have a problem with your trainer, address it immediately.
  • Don’t interrupt your trainer when she’s with a client. Wait until she’s finished before approaching her.
  • Recognize that your trainer is there to guide you–but YOU still have to do the work!