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  • Writer's pictureMike Scruggs

Selecting a Personal Trainer -

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Mike Scruggs - Elite Health and Fitness, Inc.

ACE Certified Personal Trainer

Whether you want to lose weight, tone up your body, or work on a complete change of lifestyle, a personal trainer can be a wise investment in maintaining overall good health. If you've made the decision to take this major step in your fitness program, you'll want to find a good trainer who will meet your specific needs.

If you've never worked with a trainer before, it's important to find the right trainer for you; someone who sees eye-to-eye with your goals and meets your budget. Some trainers can be more expensive than others, but the right one can be well worth the investment. Like anything else, sometimes it takes a little trial and error to find that happy place where you are comfortable and enthusiastic.

"There is something to be said about having someone in your corner, making sure you follow through with your goals," says cover model Dave Dreas. "A good trainer can set you up for success by keeping you motivated, on task, and accountable."

Talk with friends or acquaintances who already use a personal trainer. Word of mouth can be an excellent resource and can provide you with reliable information. Do keep in mind, though, that personality and specific needs play a large role in the rapport between trainer and client. The best trainer for your friend might not be the best one for you.

Look in the yellow pages of your phone book or on the internet. Here you should find listings for trainers in your area. Also check the classified ads in your newspaper. Some independent contractors will run their ads there.

Call nearby fitness centers, gyms or. Most gyms have personal trainers on staff and offer an assortment of packages for personal training.

There are some guidelines to follow that should help as you investigate the many choices available. Keep a checklist when considering potential trainers.Check for references and certifications. Determine if the trainer has liability insurance. Look for a trainer who can address any special needs you may have. Ask what the trainer's fees are.

Find out if the trainer is certified by a nationally recognized body such as the American Council on Exercise ( or the American College of Sports Medicine (which requires a health-related academic degree).

Realize that the cost of a personal trainer will vary according to the trainer's experience and education, and will also depend on where you live. Typically, trainers can command anywhere from $50 to $250 an hour.

Avoid hiring a trainer without an initial consultation and trial workout to see if a trainer is suited to your personality and shows a genuine interest in you and your goals.

Choose a trainer or teacher with a good grasp on your workout level and limitations. You want someone who motivates and challenges you without setting impossible goals or pushing you too fast or too hard. Creative workout planning will help avoid burnout.

Determine if this is someone you can easily work with. You are looking for someone to support and motivate you, you are not looking for a best friend. Your trainer should be able to understand where you are coming from and relate to you, as well as, your needs and goals. Communication is a big factor in getting the most out of your personal trainer, or “the most bang for your buck.”

Here is a good example of a communication conundrum:

How many versions of "I like variety" there are out there, but I'll bet your definition is different than mine, and different from the next person. I've heard variety described as "same exercises, different numbers of reps," "a different exercise each month," and "a different exercise each day." What really helps is if you can be as specific as you can to your trainer about what you like and don't like, or what you are expecting.

A strong support network and a great coach are some of the most underrated drivers of fitness success.

Face it, millions of people resolve each year to get healthier. At the beginning of every year they flood the local gyms and parks, they sign up for classes, and they start dieting. The reality, however, is that by the Super Bowl nearly half have given up. By the end of spring, 8 out of 10 have given up and gone back to their previous life style. For the majority of us, until we are exposed to a life changing event such as the death of a friend or the prognosis of impending bad health or disease, we do nothing. It takes too much effort and will power to make such a change, as to adopt and live a healthier life style.

Recently I found on the internet where a woman posted a question concerning the efforts of a personal trainer, which was answered by several personal trainers. Brande asked: What exactly is a personal trainer suppost to do?

“I've just been wondering what exactly personal trainers are supposed to do? I just started with my personal trainer at AF. For $50 an hour, I thought I would be getting more than a few exercises. Granted, it was a workout, but isn't he supposed to do more than just that? I guess I'm not sure what exactly they're supposed to do. Are they supposed to do things with you on food or is it just exercises?”

  • “Services of a personal trainer come in many forms. The most being educating. We are there to educate you on exercise, health and nutrition. Keep in mind, most of us are NOT certified dieticians or nutritionist, so we can't allocate meal plans and specifically tell you what to eat. We can however offer you advice on correct eating principles, calorie contents on foods, do's and don’ts, myths and misconceptions and we can critique you on your current diet, but again, we are not qualified to tell you exactly what you should be eating day in, day out.”

“In regards to educating you on exercise and working out, we cannot teach you everything you need to know in a single session and if we give too much information at once, it simply won't sink in. As a beginner, it is extremely important to ensure you are doing exercises suited for your particular circumstance (taking past injuries into account) and ensuring you are doing the exercise in proper form. Once you have 'learnt' the exercise (this goes beyond 'knowing' what to do and looks more at your 'coordination' on performing the exercise), then we can 'advance you to do more challenging/difficult exercises. It is a learning curve and safety is our number one priority, so at the start it may 'seem' like you are doing the same thing over and over again, but it is because we must be sure your brain/muscle connection has 'learnt' the exercise.”

“After about 3-6 months, a trainer can probably teach you everything they know (depending how much they know to begin with), and after this time the 2 main reasons why people stay with a trainer is no longer to learn new exercises (although when we learn more, we teach you more along the way), but it is for motivation and being held accountable to working out and ensuring you hit your goals. It is also for the added intensity a trainer can give. No matter how self-motivated you are, you will never work as hard as you can with a trainer (someone to tell you to do 3 more reps).”

  • “A Trainer is responsible to assess your goals, abilities, strengths and weakness. From there, their job is to design appropriate programming to help you reach attainable goals in the smartest and most efficient manner. Another big part of a Trainer's job is to hold you accountable to make your sessions and do what is best for your body in your off time i.e. rest and proper nutrition.”

  • “As a trainer, the one thing I would say to you is make sure you communicate with your trainer. Don't just blindly do everything he/she says (unless that's OK with you) but ask why or what exactly it's doing for you. You should get a good answer in response. Also ask about nutrition and what he/she can help you with. Depending on the question maybe he/she can help, maybe not. Remember, you are paying him/her. You are the customer. I don't mean for you to become demanding and obnoxious, but you should expect to become educated as you become healthier.”

“Lack of communication lost me a few early-on clients when I wasn't very experienced. Yeah, bad for me as far as earnings went, but worse for the client who went away dissatisfied and now may be very reluctant to ever ask for help in increasing their fitness and health! That does not happen anymore - I make darn sure about that!”

“If, in the end, you feel you are not getting what you want out of your trainer, ask the gym manager or head trainer for a different trainer. A lot of the success of a client is due to a good connection between the client and trainer. Not everyone fits with everyone else.”

  • “A good trainer will teach you proper form; open up a world of new possibilities for exercise; assist you with working around injuries rather than aggravating them; help with injury rehab, advise on diet and nutrition; look at your current diet, exercise, lifestyle and offer educated advice on where and how to change things up for your goals.”

To summarize, what you are looking for in a personal trainer is a qualified, educated mentor; someone who is easy for you to get along with and communicate effectively with. The right trainer is someone who can relate to you, your person situation and goals. They need to be able to educate you as they help you reach your fitness goals. Most importantly they need to make your new life style fun while motivating and challenging you to meet or exceed your goals. If you meet and exceed your goals, then it is worth your effort and money spent. If it is fun and endearing, and becomes your new, adopted life style...THEN YOU WIN! For every hour of exercise completed you increase your life span by two (2) hours..a two for one payout, not bad!

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