If your motivation to exercise dwindles immediately after you break your first sweat; if you're planning to run a marathon next summer; or if you want to wear that one-size-down pair of jeans again, you might benefit from the instruction of a personal trainer.
But what qualifications should you look for when hiring one? Patrick Frey, owner of TOPFIT Personal Training & Fitness Consulting, and Kit Crumb, owner of Ashland Fitness Studio, offer some questions to consider:
One option available through some personal trainers is online personal fitness training. Does that really work?
Patrick Frey, who offers online training through TOPFIT (Personal Training & Fitness Consulting), says it is a helpful option for people who need some extra reminders or motivation. "It's a lot of accountability," he says, and can be scheduled between face-to-face sessions as a monitoring tool.
Online training also works for those who travel a lot and are faced with a changing set of available gyms or equipment, or even when there is no equipment available. "All they need is someone with a little creativity in developing their program." But, he cautions, it works best for people who already have some exercise experience. "Beware that you really understand … what the exercise is before you do it unsupervised," he says. Once you are familiar with basic form and posture to avoid injuries, an online session can be helpful in keeping you motivated wherever you are in the world.
1. Are they certified?
While most states do not license personal trainers, certification offers a baseline that each trainer has had to prove they know the basics, says Frey. But with over 900 certifying bodies in the nation, Crumb cautions, it's also wise to ask about the trainer's experience. "Just like when you have surgery, you want someone who's done this before," he says.
2. What is their background?
"What are your goals and does your trainer have experience in that area?" asks Frey. "Will they be able to get you there?" A trainer's background is key to finding a good match, particularly if you have specific goals in mind. But a trainer should also have the breadth to work with you as your goals change, and be aware of the latest trends in health, diet and nutrition.
Crumb suggests finding a trainer close to your own age, if possible. A less experienced trainer might not recognize the cumulative effects those ski accidents or sports injuries will have on your physical health. "At 55, I'm a delicate flower compared to what I was 20 years ago," Crumb says with a laugh.
3. Will I be able to work with them?
Because of the nature of personal training, Frey stresses, you have to find someone you can work with. During your sessions, you will share personal information and personal space, so it's essential you are comfortable with each other. A trainer should develop a training regime based on your health history ("and be honest!" says Frey) and personal preferences.
"The best exercise is the one you'll do," reminds Crumb, so options are essential. "If you don't like sit-ups, I can come up with 15 different exercises to work your abs."
Frey agrees, "There are some things I will never push people into doing." He does recommend staying open to suggestions, however. And consider personality, too. A trainer should be positive and able to offer constructive criticism as you work together.
4. How often (and where) will we meet?
Personal trainers will vary — some, like Crumb, have their own studios; others, like Frey, will meet you at your home or gym. Be sure you are comfortable with their format or understand what your choices are. A flexible schedule can help both you and your trainer, and Frey recommends meeting at least once a week to keep accountability high and to catch any bad habits that may have developed.
5. What is included in the price?
Personal trainers in the Rogue Valley range from $25 to $45 per session, says Crumb. Because each trainer offers a variety of options, be sure you understand what is included. Some offer weight or body mass monitoring, phone or e-mail support, package deals or even group sessions. And because diet and fitness goals are often closely tied together, many trainers also offer nutritional advice or meal monitoring. But "you have to find [a trainer] that you like in their approach to nutrition," Frey cautions, otherwise "you're spinning your wheels."
Ultimately, says Crumb, a personal trainer can become an integral part of your support system as you work towards your fitness goals. So ask questions and then go for your goals with the encouragement and expertise of your personal trainer. v