Finding a Personal Fitness Trainer
They're popular and they get results, but making a good match takes effort.
Certification isn't the only thing you need to check on.
According to Klinge and Hagerman, you should ask your trainer about his or her
educational background. The more formal education he or she has in an
appropriate field, the better; one recent study has shown that the most
knowledgeable personal trainers are typically better educated. In addition,
Hagerman and Klinge say that you should make sure that your trainer is trained
It is also crucial that your personal fitness trainer have
liability insurance. While many trainers are actual employees of gyms and get
coverage through their employers, others are independent contractors who are
responsible for getting their own insurance. According to Hagerman, Klinge, and
Bryant, you should not work with a personal fitness trainer who does not have
There are other things to consider. One qualification that many
of us tend to look for in a personal trainer is objectively superficial: do
they look fit themselves? But is that a legitimate way of evaluating
Hagerman thinks so, up to a point. "I have no respect for a
trainer who's out of shape," he says. "But that doesn't mean that a
male trainer has to be big and muscular or a female has to wear a size zero.
Good trainers come in all shapes and sizes. They just have to practice what
He also suggests that you don't get seduced by the appearance
of personal fitness trainers who dress in muscle shirts and spandex. After all,
why should they be dressed in work out clothes when they're just instructing
you? "It's one of my pet peeves, but a trainer should really dress
professionally," he says.
Knowing the Limits
A great personal fitness trainer should offer more than just
recommendations about how many reps to do on a weight machine or how to press
buttons on the treadmill -- he or she will give you a general picture of how to
live a healthy life, according to Klinge.
But it's important to resist the temptation to treat a session
with your trainer as one-stop shopping for all of your exercise, nutritional,
psychological, and medical needs. Bryant, Hagerman, and Klinge say that overly
relying on personal fitness trainers is pretty common and that it is the
trainer's job to establish the correct boundaries of the relationship.
"A properly trained personal trainer will know how to deal
with that and how to establish the scope of their practice," Klinge tells
WebMD. "They'll know when to hand off a client to a registered dietitian,
physician, or physical therapist."
By the same token, be careful if you feel your personal fitness
trainer is offering suggestions on topics that he or she isn't trained in.
"If a trainer starts giving specific diet prescriptions or
a lot of advice on ways of treating medical conditions, that's a problem,"
says Klinge. "That sort of information should only come from a medical