I have been training since 1986 and in the sports/fitness industry since 1997. Through the years, training has changed dramatically. If you’re not a fitness professional or a fitness enthusiast, you might not realize how much change has occurred.
Some trainers and coaches have kept up with the current trends and some have not. If you’re just a regular person looking for a trainer, how do you know if you’re picking the right one? Unfortunately, there is no simple answer to this question. From 2001 to 2011, the number of personal trainers in the USA grew by 44%, to a whopping 231,500 trainers in the industry. Today, there are currently over 270,000 personal trainers and the sports/fitness industry is still growing.
There are over 100 certifications in America, but not all of them are created equal. The top four, in my opinion, are ACSM, NASM, NSCA, and ACE. These organizations are all accredited and require certain criteria to be met before you can become certified. They also require you to re-certify every two years by obtaining Continuing Educational Units (CEU’s) through seminars, studying, and learning the latest trends and constantly educating yourself.
I have my NSCA-CSCS, which requires you to have a four year degree in order to take the exam. When you pick a trainer, make sure to do your own research and ask him/her a ton of questions. If you’re facing life in prison, would you want to be represented by a lawyer who just passed their bar exam? I’m sure the answer would be a resounding NO. So, why would you trust a poorly qualified trainer to work with your body?
Once you decide on what organizations you respect or like, you have to ask yourself what are your goals and are you serious about being committed to training? Once you answer those questions, you need to find a trainer best suited to meet your needs and your personality.
Here are a few other questions I think you should ask yourself before you pick a trainer: Are you motivated? Do you want to be pushed or coddled? Are you mentally tough? Can you be coached hard or are you looking for someone to tell all your problems to? Are you inherently lazy? Do you give up easy? These questions are for your own self-reflection because working out isn’t easy and at times you’re going to need to be pushed because self doubt will undoubtedly creep into your mind.
I advise you to hire a trainer who has experience in the field, not somebody who just got certified over the weekend online. Look for a trainer who can give you referrals. Ask the right questions: Who did they learn under? What places did they work? Is personal training their only source of income or are they involved in other industries as well? Is this a career for them or just a pass-time? What is their philosophy on training? Any good confident trainer welcomes these questions. If they don’t provide answers you’re comfortable with, run for the hills!
Remember, if you’re going to invest time and money in improving your body, it’s ok to interview as many trainers as possible until you find the right one. One bad experience with a trainer can cast doubt on your commitment to fitness, and the competency of all fitness professionals. I have seen it happen first hand often over the years.
Just because you hire a personal trainer does not mean he/she is going to work miracles. You have to commit to each other to ensure you get the best experience and reach your desired results. Good luck on your fitness journey!
Founder & President, MCore FTS