How To Find A Personal Fitness Trainer by Michael J. Merlino, BBA, ACE, BSMI (CPFT, RES, SCS)
Cooper Institute for Aerobics Research
Owner, Merlino Fitness, MerlinoFitness.com
This month's feature article was originally published in the August,
1998 issue of
Houston Sports News magazine.
to find a trainer
Personal training is a booming business and there is no shortage of qualified
trainers no matter what your personal goals may be. So where do you begin?
Word of mouth is probably your best bet. Other options include asking
your local gym or YMCA for a recommendation or taking a tour of some of
the more private personal studios that are popping up in most major cities
across the nation. Local magazines and newspapers are another source.
The American Council on Exercise (ACE) can also steer you in the right
direction by giving you the names of reputable trainers in your area by
calling them toll free at 1-800-825-3636. ACE's on-line Internet personal
trainer directory is also available at the following link:
Choosing a trainer that is right for
Once you have asked around, made a few phone calls, searched the Internet
and obtained the names of a few trainers to check out, set up some face-to-face
interviews and consider the following items before making your final selection.
These tips are intended as a guide, not an end-all list. Pick a personal
trainer just as carefully as you would pick a doctor or dentist, realizing
that in the end your comfort level with the trainer will probably be the
most important factor with any qualified trainer.
CPR and First Aid - Is
the trainer currently certified in Cardiopulmonary Resuscitation and
First Aid? This is a must and a potential lifesaver in the event that
an emergency occurs during one of your sessions.
Experience - Probably
one of the most important factors. How long has the trainer been in
the personal training business and with what types of clients has he
or she worked? Does the trainer's experience and area of expertise match
well with your personal fitness goals? If you have a specific medical
condition(s) such as arthritis, diabetes, asthma, coronary artery disease,
etc., has the trainer had experience working with other clients with
similar conditions? If you are a Senior citizen, pregnant or thinking
about getting pregnant, has the trainer worked with others with similar
situations? Does the trainer have exercise rehabilitation experience
or worked with others that have certain limitations due to previous
injuries or conditions? If you are a weekend or amateur athlete, does
the trainer have sports-specific training experience to help you excel
at your sport and reduce your risk of injury?
Education & Certifications -
Does the trainer have an exercise-related degree (exercise
physiology, kinesiology, anatomy etc.) or personal training certifications?
This can get very confusing and is a subject of constant debate. Currently
a trainer does not have to be licensed or certified to train clients
in this country, but a college degree or certification does show that
someone has had at least basic training in exercise physiology, anatomy,
proper exercise programming and nutrition. Most certifications also
require continuing education classes to keep the certification current,
which is just added assurance that the fitness professional you hire
is at least somewhat current with his or her skills and the latest fitness
information. The American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM) is the gold
standard of fitness certifications. Most of the other certifying bodies
use the exercise principles that have been developed by ACSM. Another
nationally recognized certification is The American Council on Exercise
(ACE). ACE is probably the most well known certification to the general
public. BSMI, is the popular choice for trainers in the Houston area.
BSMI certified trainers complete a rigorous training school with Professional
Fitness Instructor Training (PFIT), which includes instruction from
a highly competent staff of Physicians, Orthopedic Surgeons, Ph.D's,
athletic trainers and experienced fitness professionals. The Cooper
Institute of Aerobics Research (CIAR) in Dallas, Texas also offers a
wide variety certifications to trainers such as Physical Fitness Specialist,
Biomechanics of Strength Training, and Dietary Guidance. Other certifications
include The National Academy of Sports Medicine (NASM), The National
Strength & Conditioning Association (NSCA) and many more. Search for
a personal trainer who is well grounded in exercise skills, education
and knowledge but also realize that all of the certifications in the
world are meaningless if the trainer does not apply techniques learned
on the gym floor during each session.
Ask for references - Most
qualified trainers should be more than willing to refer you to a current
or previous client. If not, then you may want to look elsewhere. This
is your chance to ask some very specific questions about the trainer's
style, personality and how he or she conducts business.
Ask for a test drive - If
you are not sure about your commitment to personal training or your
choice of trainer, ask if you can purchase a few sessions and try it
out before you commit to anything long-term.
Your Comfort Zone - Does
the trainer seem motivational, passionate about his or her work, and
truly have your best interests and goals in mind? It is imperative that
you feel comfortable with the trainer and how he or she approaches your
fitness program. Don't ignore your gut feelings. You are unlikely to
reach your goals if you have poor rapport with your personal trainer.
A Healthy Investment
Investing in your health now and consistently building fitness
into your lifestyle is nothing more than preventative medicine. Every
day, more undisputed research is pouring in to reinforce the benefits
of consistent, life long exercise. There is nothing more important than
your health. If hiring a trained professional to get you started or to
improve your workout program and that can help you reach your fitness
goals and promote a more healthy lifestyle, it is an investment that will
pay you big dividends for the rest of your life.
Michael Merlino is a Certified Professional Fitness Trainer and
owner of Merlino Fitness and MerlinoFitness.com. He trains his clients
at the Houston Downtown YMCA. Michael can be reached at 832-577-7770.
E-mail him at email@example.com.
Click on one of the links below for more information on Michael and his
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