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January 16, 2014

CHRIS DAVIES: Much to consider before hiring a fitness trainer

Now that the Polar Vortex has had its way with the Wabash Valley, it’s time to resume your quest for a new you. Many will join a gym or take classes. Some will seek professional, more specialized help through a personal fitness trainer. If you have thought about hiring a trainer, there are many things to consider.

Education and certifications

I’ll be the first to tell you that credentials do not make a good trainer. However, most who are good at their craft have invested in exercise-related education and stay current through continuing education. Look for a four-year degree in an exercise-related field. Also, certifications from ACSM, ACE, or NSCA, among others, are solid certifying organizations.

Specialization

Does the trainer specialize in any population or discipline? A jack-of-all-trades trainer might not suit you if you have medical limitations, i.e. diabetes, hypertension, heart disease or orthopedic issues. Seek someone who has experience in these populations for the best and safest results.

Experience

How long have they been in business training clients? Someone who has been training for years is likely pretty good if they are making a living at it. What is the turnover rate of clients? Do clients tend to stick around or bail after a few sessions?

Insurance

Does the trainer maintain current liability insurance to cover them in the event of an accident or injury to a client?

Consultation

Can you sit down with the trainer, at no cost to you, to discuss your goals, limitations, etc.? The consultation will give you a good idea of what to expect from the trainer. Some trainers will use “gym-speak” and lose potential clients due to a language barrier. The trainer should be able to explain the plan to you in easily understood terms.

Extras

Does the trainer promote supplements, shakes or other dietary things you are encouraged to buy? Since the FDA does not regulate supplements, you might want to save your money. Most studies are poorly structured and not found in reputable medical journals. People Magazine, muscle magazines and other tabloids do not count as reputable medical journals. In addition, if you have medical issues, it is not advised to consume dietary supplements unless under the care of a medical professional.

Does the trainer give nutritional advice on what to eat and how to eat? Do they have any credentials in nutritional counseling? They should have if they are dispensing nutritional advice. It is illegal for a personal fitness trainer to give nutritional advice.

Before hiring a personal fitness trainer, take some time to research and talk to the person you might hire. Your results will likely be longer lasting and more fulfilling.

Chris Davies, MS, owns Fitness Solutions, Inc. at 1101 Walnut St. He can be reached at fitsolutions1@msn.com or visit his website at thfitnesssolutions.com.

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