The other day at the gym, I
spotted a personal trainer working with a soccer mom type. He had her locking out her knees on the leg
press and arching her back on the bench press. It was awful.
For those of you who may
not know this already, both of these techniques can cause serious injury. What
made things even worse was that I later found out she was paying $80 per
session to workout with him!
As it turns out, he had only been working out himself for
about three months and had no certification to train others. Yet she trusted
him with her time, money and even worse, her body. To an extent, thats almost
as bad as letting a random stranger off the street pull your teeth or give you
open-heart surgery. You cant just trust anyone with your physical well-being.
So how should one go about selecting a personal
trainer? Well for starters, youll want
to make sure that your trainer has a certification to do so. Some of the most well respected certification
organizations include ACE, NASM, ACSM, CIAR, ISSA, AFFA and NCSM. I know this
may look like alphabet soup to many of you believe it or not, there are
actually more than what I listed. Point
is, you should ask to see proof of your potential trainers certification and
make sure that its up to date and has not expired.
If your potential trainer is not certified, you should
proceed with extreme caution. You cant just take advice from any person in the
gym so youll need to at least weed out who you can trust.
If the person is not a certified personal trainer, do they
at least have a degree that is related to fitness such as Exercise Science or
Physical Education? Are they in an apprentice program that will allow them to
gain a certification upon completion? Do they have any sports training or
military experience where they may have picked up a few training
If your answer was no to all of these questions, you may
not have made the best selection on who will lead you to your fitness goals. Just because someone may have a six-pack and
has read a few fitness magazines, they still may be unqualified to design a
program that will also work for you.
Ive seen about 50 episodes of The Peoples Court and Judge
Mathis, but I would never try to represent someones case in court as their
lawyer. The same theory applies in the gym. If someone is just trying to help
you out for free, thats one thing. However if they are calling themselves a
Personal Trainer and asking you for money, you should question why they havent
taken the steps necessary to gain a cortication to validate their knowledge
Your trainer should also be CPR/AED certified. Hopefully they will never have an actual
reason to use this certification during your sessions but its comforting
knowing that they are capable of doing so in the event of an emergency.
Your next step should be to take the trainers physique and
lifestyle into consideration. I know
that in general you shouldnt judge a book by its cover but this is one
situation where that rule may not necessarily apply. Your potential trainer
should actually look the part. If this person appears as though they spend more
time at Dairy Queen than they do on the treadmill, this may not be someone you
want to take fitness advice from.
Im not saying every trainer has to look like an Adonis
however he or she should at least be in shape! You wouldnt take advice from a
dentist who had yellow crooked teeth would you?
If you have the opportunity to watch your potential trainer
work with other clients, this could also play a key role in making your
decision. Has that clients body transformed in a reasonable amount of time
since the trainer started working with them? Is the trainer attentive to the
client or looking off into the distance and bored with the process? You dont
want to work with someone whos going to be checking text messages and talking
to friends while youre trying to focus on working out.
Finally, you should discuss your goals and see if theyre
the right person to help you reach them. Every workout should be personalized
and designed specifically to suit your needs, not just a general template that
works for some and not for others. Every
trainer may not know how to help you complete a marathon or perfect power
lifting techniques for example.
Find out what your trainers specialty and areas of
expertise are and see if theyre in line with your needs. Dont be afraid to
ask them questions about their background and experience. If the trainer
appears defense or annoyed than save your money and move on. Youll be spending a lot of time with this
person, so take all of the time that you feel is necessary to figure out if
your personalities and goals for your body are a match.
Choosing a personal trainer should be a well thought out and
educated decision. If a trainer is pressuring you to work with them to the
point of harassment, they may only be looking out for their wallets and not
your best interests. Whoever you chose should genuinely be passionate about
fitness and care more about helping you than they care about taking your
Of course, this is how they make a living, so you also
shouldnt expect for them to give you the world for free. Instead, you should
take your time to find the right match so that youll feel comforted in knowing
that your payments are being put to good use. A personal trainer is truly an
investment in your health, so take the steps necessary to ensure that the
services provided and end results will justify the means.
Until next time be good or be good at it.
Here is the MP3 soundtrack to go along with this editions
Crazy Train (remix) Lil Jon, Trick Daddy & Twista
The New Workout Plan Kanye West
Night Train James Brown
Darrell W. Butler is a
certified personal trainer and strength coach with the American Council on Exercise (ACE). He is the founder of Industrial Strength & Performance (I.S.P Fitness) and has trained at facilities throughout the nation. You can
find out more about his work at www.isperformance.com