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Finding a Personal Fitness Trainer

They're popular and they get results, but making a good match takes effort.
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Exercising With Special Conditions

"For people with special needs, exercise can be tremendously beneficial," says Bryant. "We're finding that exercise has a positive role in helping many medical conditions. But it has to be given in the proper doses, if you will. A trainer has to make modifications to a typical exercise program to make sure that he or she is not putting someone at risk."

According to all three experts, the number of people with special medical conditions who are getting personal fitness trainers is increasing. One reason is that as insurance companies have decreased the number of physical rehabilitation sessions they cover, people who have recently had a heart attack or a stroke are coming to the gym sooner, says Hagerman.

The trend also has to do with demographics, says Klinge, as baby boomers get older and start developing medical problems.

Klinge, Hagerman, and Bryant report seeing clients with all sorts of medical conditions: cardiovascular problems, arthritis, hypertension, fibromyalgia, and obesity. Klinge has even treated two clients with recent heart transplants. For any of these conditions, finding a personal fitness trainer with expertise in treating people with the specific condition is crucial, and getting someone with formal education is highly recommended.

Clients with medical conditions should always check with their doctor before starting a program, and your personal fitness trainer may collaborate with him or her to develop a workout routine.

It's not only people with medical conditions who require expertise. Klinge reports seeing an increase in the number of adolescents and children he sees in the gym, some of whom are brought by parents who are concerned for their health. "We try to help kids stay active as a way of replacing the physical education that has been cut in a lot of school systems," says Klinge.

Similarly, both Klinge and Hagerman see an increasing number of seniors who are seeking out personal fitness trainers in order to stay agile and limber and as a way of staying active and preventing falls. Again, you should seek out a trainer with expertise in treating those with your particular needs.

Asking Questions

Before you even meet with a prospective personal fitness trainer, you need to have a good sense of just what you want to achieve, says Klinge. Do you want to lose 10 pounds or 50? What kind of exercise do you want to do? How many sessions per week can you reasonably fit in or afford?

Bryant urges that you get the business policies of any prospective trainer in writing, so that you clearly understand his or her charges, cancellation policies, and liability insurance. You may also want to ask for references, although some trainers may be reluctant to give them in order to protect their clients' privacy, says Hagerman.

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