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.
How 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:
American Council on Exercise (ACE)
Click on the "Find an ACE Pro" link
Choosing a trainer that is right for you
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
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 and his
private fitness studio. Michael can be reached at
713.523.2577 or e-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org. Click on one of the links below for more information
on Michael and his fitness services.