With the New Year approaching, many people will look for a personal trainer or boot camp style class to help them get in shape.
What do you picture of when you hear "Personal Trainer" or "Boot Camp"?
Arnold Schwarzenegger? Mike "The Situation" from Jersey Shore? Jillian Michaels? Bob Harper?
The truth is, finding the right personal trainer or boot camp instructor that will help you achieve your goals is crucial. The last thing you want to do is waste money or even worse, get injured in the process.
Here are some things I would recommend you look for when searching for someone to help you. Remember: Having everything listed below isn't necessary. What is important is feeling confident in knowing that you have found the right person who is capable and passionate about helping you achieve your goals.
1. Certification. There are many organizations that "certify" personal trainers. The better organizations require a good mix of education and practical experience. Try to look for a trainer with a certification from the National Strength & Conditioning Assoc. (NSCA), American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM), or the American Council on Exercise (ACE)
2. Education. A degree in Exercise Science, Kinesiology, Physical Therapy, Nutrition or other health related field goes a long way in showing how knowledgeable a trainer is.
3. CPR & Liability Insurance. Having current CPR and some form of professional liability insurance shows that a trainer is professional and does this as a career and not a part-time job.
4. Experience. This is a tricky one. While many years of experience can be good, we all start with no experience. If your trainer has little experience, make sure they make up for it in other ways, i.e. college education, certifications, etc.) If your trainer has 15 years of experience, make sure that they are not just going through the motions and are just looking to make $$$ off of you.
5. Recommendations. Asking for testimonials from other clients shows that a trainer is both likable and successful. Be careful that these recommendations aren't from his wife or good friends trying to make them look good.
6. Compatibility. Just as important as education and experience is compatibility. You have to be able to get along with your trainer and feel motivated by them. If not, I am pretty positive you two will not be working together for too long. There have been times where a client and I have not meshed very well. It was not for a lack of trying by both parties. In the end, our personalities were not compatible. As a professional, I am more than happy to help the client find another trainer that they got along great with.
There are lots of things to consider. Let me know if you have any questions.
Daniel Shamburg, MS, CSCS