Hiring Personal Trainers

A really good personal trainer can make an immediate as well as a long-term impact on the quality and success of an individual's training program. For that reason, an exceptional trainer can be an incredible asset to a club. But how can one be sure that the trainer is qualified? Well, the answer is not all that difficult to discern. Here are some things to look for as an employer to ensure that the trainer will provide effective, efficient and safe service.

Verifying certification by a professional organization that specializes in personal training is a good start when looking for consistency in a personal trainer or fitness professional. There are many groups that have developed programs for certification, but look for groups such as ACSM (American College of Sports Medicine), ACE (American Council on Exercise) or IDEA (International Dance and Exercise Association), among others, that provide data-based and proctored examinations as well as continuing education. If a personal trainer's certificate is "in force," it means he has participated in continuing education on a regular basis to remain updated on all of the new information and trends in the profession.

Personal trainers should also have an educational and/or practical background or experience in fitness. This can include degrees in the field (e.g., physical education or exercise science) or experience in a fitness setting such as a commercial fitness center or recreation center. Professional references are often helpful in determining the extent and content of an individual's practical background. Quite obviously, an individual with both an educational and practical background in the exercise sciences would be the most desirable.

Client evaluations can be a great way to "prove" the efficacy of a personal trainer's methodologies. Reviewing these evaluations (if available) can provide tremendous insight into the effectiveness, consistency and style of an individual personal trainer, particularly if the evaluations cover a significant time frame. This review may also allow the prospective client or employer to determine the ability of the personal trainer to meet specific schedule requirements and scheduling flexibility.

Every truly professional personal trainer should understand and regularly use the basic tenets of organized record-keeping, as well as proper exercise progression. One is not generally possible without the other, and the information that is consistently collected and recorded is the real key to effective and individualized training. Providing accurate data to the client on a regular basis helps to provide both consistency and motivation.

- Dr. Paul Kennedy is the assistant vice president of personal training services for Bally Total Fitness. He is also a successful lecturer and speaker.


Online Training: Friend or Foe?

With the proliferation of web sites that promise personalized exercises programs at low costs, trainers may fear that the Internet will net their customers. However, Gregory Flor-ez, president and CEO of First Fitness Inc. (a Salt Lake City company that provides coaching, motivational and personal training services) doesn't see the 'Net as a threat. "Personal training is not going to decline," he says. "[The web] will act as an enhancement."

Florez points out that personal training carries a premium price. So a person who can't afford to see a trainer two or three times a week may choose to work with the trainer once or twice a month instead and use a fitness site for additional support.

As far as completely replacing trainers, Florez points out that a web site just can't compare to the individualized attention of an actual person. "It takes the personal out of personal trainer," he says.


Constructing a Better Body

Impulse Training and Assessment Inc., a personal and sport-specific training center located within the property of Evans Construction in Greentown, Ohio, is putting the nearby construction equipment to good use. Impulse now offers a construction zone workout, which consists of wheelbarrow lifts, shoveling, lifting heavy chains and more in a fun, safe environment. The program is perfect for anyone who wants a change in his fitness routine - or wants to try his hand at hard labor.


A Checklist for Identifying Quality Personal Trainers

* Insist on nationally recognized certifications.
* Determine if certifications are "in force" (i.e., current).
* Evaluate educational and practical fitness background.
* Review client evaluations and professional references (if available).
* Discuss expectations concerning scheduling requirements.
* Review written instruments used for record-keeping.