How to Choose a Personal Trainer or Exercise TherapistBy
Who you select to be your Personal Trainer or Exercise Therapist can determine how successful you will be in achieving your fitness goals.
Like other professional service providers such as a physicians, lawyers, or accountants, you should look for a Personal Trainer with the right mix of skills, expertise, and capabilities. And you want someone with the right personality fit for you.
The following are some questions to ask when you evaluate a Personal Trainer, Exercise Therapist or Fitness Professional.
1. What Certification do They Have?
Certification and training is becoming increasingly important in the fitness field. The problem is that there are a large number of organizations providing certification programs and the standards among organizations vary.
Keep in mind that there is no regulatory body for Personal Training looking out for you. Other professional groups have such bodies. For example, in Ontario, the College of Physiotherapists of Ontario requires that all practicing Physiotherapists pass an exam every five years and be subject to the regulations of the College. The College does not represent the interests of the Physiotherapist; it represents the interest of you, the public, to ensure proper delivery of service.
Several of the Fitness certification bodies such as a the National Strength and Conditioning Association (NSCA), and American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM) require that their members possess a degree in the health field, pass an series of qualifying entrance exams and complete ongoing education to maintain their certification.
Why is certification important to you? Three reasons:
- The person who possesses the certification from one of these bodies has demonstrated a level of competency and knowledge in their professional area as defined by the body.
- The person has to complete continuing education to maintain certification.
- The person has access to ongoing research and literature from these bodies in the area of fitness and health.
2. What is Their Approach?
Ask them how they work. Do they do an assessment? What is involved in the assessment? Will you be exclusively working with them or will they bring in an assistant?
If you have expectations of how things work and do not want to be surprised, ask these questions.
3. Do They Have the Specialized Skills Required to Meet Your Needs?
As you can probably tell from the first point, Fitness Professionals, like many other professionals, are specializing. That is good since each of the major areas of fitness requires domain expertise and a Personal Trainer can only have domain expertise if he or she commits time to the area.
Some Fitness Professionals are starting to focus on areas like sports conditioning (in some cases for specific sports), the aging adult, and women’s issues. You should consider looking for someone who has expertise in your area.
4. What are Your Fitness Needs and Goals?
If you can clearly answer this question, you will be able to quickly determine which Personal Trainer is right for you.
If you have a pre-existing medical condition and an exercise program will be instrumental in addressing the condition, then you should be looking for a Personal Trainer or Fitness Professional who can assess the condition and design a program that is both effective and safe. More than likely, that Fitness Professional will have a medical background. A Registered Physiotherapist with a background and credentials in fitness conditioning will probably fit the bill.
If you play a specific sport, then you should be looking for a Personal Trainer who has a track record of training athletes in that sport. Quite often, these type of Fitness Professionals have worked at the university or even the professional sports levels.
Maybe you are into bodybuilding – either competitive or recreational. Again, you will want to look for someone who has trained others in this specific area.
5. Is There the Potential of an Injury?
Your Personal Trainer may not have the right training or background to deal with someone with a pre-existing medical condition. The possible result: a new injury or aggravation of an old injury.
Make sure that they are qualified to assess and treat specific conditions.
You should make a point of asking questions related to each of the points I brought up. Also, don’t hesitate to ask for client references if you are unsure about the person.
Good luck with your search and your fitness program!