The holidays are upon us, and many people are looking to get healthy (or healthier), to offset the indulgence during holiday events. Here's our guide to finding a personal trainer, but first we talk about whether the money is worth it.
Is Personal Training Worth It?
Of course it matters how advanced you are, but if you have a few questions about anything fitness, it is definitely worth it. Yes, we are bias as personal trainers ourselves, but all of our clients have left with a lot of information to get going on their own. Personal training can cost between $60 - $140 per sessions, but understand it is an investment. Yes, you may see changes short-term, but you will leave with information and a gameplan that you can use for years on.
Certifications and Qualifications
There are many certifications out there, so make sure your trainer has a cert that is accredited by the NCCA. Personally, we like the ACSM and NSCA certifications best because they offer monthly journals with scholarly research for their members. Their content puts a little more information in physiology as well, which is absolutely important for any trainer to understand. (Check out the ones I personally chose here; the industries top and most evidence-based)
The number one qualification you should look for is a B.S. degree in Kinesiology. A B.S. degree in Kinesiology trumps all certifications because that individual was required to pass college-level courses in programming, physiology, safety, and research. Although there may be great trainers out there without a degree, make sure they have been in business for numerous years. The degree or years of experience (combined with a certification) guarantees the trainer did not just pass 60% of the minimum needed for a certification, but has put the time in to learn about the body and knows the extra steps to continue building their knowledge. The one argument we would have against this is if they are in a niche such as olympic lifting, powerlifting, or bodybuilding. If you specifically want to be good at those things, you should work with those trainers, but continue reading to help you find a good trainer within that niche.
The majority of personal trainers offer these. Yes, this is meant to be a sales pitch, but a great trainer will let their service speak for itself. Do they take the time to get to know your life and your goals? Does their workout focus on your wants, or did they just put you in a workout that is not tailored specifically to you? Do they ask about medical history and past injuries? Do they do legitimate assessments and take down quantitative data? These are all questions you should think about. Go around to different trainers, and try them out free sessions to see if you want to invest your money and time with them.
Anecdotal vs. Scholarly Research
Before I start, let me say that a great trainer should be in great shape. Find someone who practices what they preach. Saying this, a lot of trainers take advantage of their own looks as their marketing.
Pay attention to the language of the trainer. Do they actually understand why adaptation in the body occurs, or do they only show you what to do? These are the trainers that use the word "I" a lot. They will tell you to do something because that's what they do. Everyone is different. A good trainer understands this, and is able to work with all backgrounds (diabetic, obese, post-surgical, etc.) rather than just put together a workout. Great trainers know that scholarly research is tested, whereas anecdotal evidence can be bias.
Do you look forward to training every day? And when we say every day, we mean month after month? A good trainer has you buy into a philosophy that makes you excited about training every workout day. They ensure you avoid burnout, and help you take the right steps outside the gym.
At the end of the day it comes down to results. Are you seeing change? Exercise will make you feel better, but is your trainer showing you quantitative imporvement in body composition and strength? There's 168 hours in a week and you're probably with a trainer maybe 3 hours of that time, so it is up to you, but a great trainer will look at the numbers with you to see where and why things may not go your way.
Lastly, did the trainer set you up with a program that is sustainable? Do you leave your first 1-2 months with enough knowledge to workout on your own? Do they make you eat brown rice, turkey, and broccoli every meal? Do they tell you to stay on supplements your whole life, or can you hit your goals with good nutrition and exercise? You should be able to leave with confidence and independence to enjoy your life while keep in tip top shape for years to come.
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