Friday, December 12, 2008

Picking a personal trainer

Another blog was brought to my attention today and it had posted a news story well into last year. The news story discussed trainers that don't really know what they are doing and got some express certifications. It had a very negative connation towards personal trainers and really didn't go over how to actually pick one as a consumer or as a business.
For the consumer: You have made the right choice, whether you need motivation, drastically need to lose weight for health reasons, or just want to fine tune some areas of your body that you seek improvement in... you need to made an educated choice on who your personal trainer is... you have a choice, you are paying for the service. You want a trainer that has expertise in the area you are wishing to improve in. If you want to improve aerobic performance, pick a trainer that has personal training certification as well as some group fitness certifications... or that has experience running half or full marathons. if you want to improve strength, find some one with a strength and conditioning certification from the NSCA... Another essential part in picking a trainer is that any gym you go to should have trainer bio profiles posted or on their websites. Look over those to get a glimpse of the trainer's personality and certifications. There collegiate degrees should also be posted. Look for a trainer with an undergraduate degree in Fitness and Wellness, Exercise Science, Physical Education, Kinesiology, and/or a masters in exercise physiology exercise and wellness or a related field. These degrees still do not definitely get you the perfect trainer, so make sure before you pay that you may switch trainers if you are not comfortable with the one you are assigned to or your first choice.
Do not settle for "oh, my trainer is ok." This trainer is here to help you and you are the consumer, you should get the most for your money as well as the most results. Realize that you are not just paying for a lifting buddy, your trainer is there to motivate you to achieve your goals not to be your best friend. But they should have reasons for the training modalities they put you through and should not get defensive when you ask them during a rest period or consultation why they chose a specific exercise.
I try to give reasons to my clients that aren't filled with ocnfusing jargon to the general public and really give them specific reasons why they are being put through the workout I have written for them that day.
Also, if you feel pain... your trainer should let you STOP. Just because the workout is hard doesn't mean to stop, but you need to know the difference between "hey, my trainer is pushing me" to "ow, I am going to limp for two days after this." Please inform your trainer of previous injuries. A great trainer should have a vast exercise bank in his/her head and be able to adapt to a different exercise for any muscle group.

For the business: Your trainers need current cpr, aed, and first aid certifications from the American Red Cross and you need copies of those forms on file. You need copies of every certification they say they have as well as recognizing legitimate certifications. When in doubt, give them a brief quiz during the interview on methods a trainer should know... how to warm a client up, how to resistance train, proper running form, target heart rate determinations, how to stretch, how to cool down... This is your gym, make the trainers you hire the best. Have monthly meetings or have your trainers email each other new ideas for workouts they thought of... when fitness professionals share the information they know, it makes evry one better informed. Even if a trainer brings you an idea that is not correct (i.e. doing romanian deadlifts with a curved back) tell them why it is wrong, but be constructive with your criticism. Teach your employees. Be up to date on training techniques and the research that is out there on the best methods. Attend conferences, google, workouts, read books... absorb as much as you can.
Another pointer is to never let the trainers take the money, have a pay system that allows the front desk or you as the supervisor to take the money and the trainer gets paid for each session after it is completed. This compltely takes the temptations of the trainer just taking the money and not telling you about the sessions. If the clients pay up front for 30 sessions, log that and only release money to the trainer as the sessions are completed. have each trainer have client log sheets that have to be initialed by both trainer and client as sessions are completed.
Please install a cancellation policy. The client has to notify the trainer within 24 hours of a cancellation or they will still be charged even if not completing a session.
Tell your trainers to wait at least fifteen minutes for a no show before leaving. If a cient shows up and the trainer is still there after fifteen minutes they have two options: either train the client for the remainder of the time period that the session was planned or call it a no show. Either way, your trainer still gets paid. Make sure the trainers know that to maintain a client base they need to use their best judgement on these policies. If a client is always late, well, they are only going to get 50 minutes of the planned hour. If you have time and the client was late once, why not train them a full hour from the time they get there. I recommend having the trainers give out their cell phone numbers, that is the easiest way to get in contact and communicate.

These are not fail-safe methods, but they should help both you as the consumer and you as a fitness business pick qualified personal trainers.

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