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Personal Training 101

WEB-EXCLUSIVE: If you're considering hiring a personal trainer, here are some suggestions to help you choose the right one for you.

Paul Bersebach/The Orange County Register

You've done the fad diets, moved on to the expensive gym membership and even taken on running, but the idea of being able to squeeze into your favorite pair of jeans still seems like an unattainable dream and you are at a crossroad: It's time to either give up or give in – and hire a personal trainer.

Personal trainers can motivate you with that outside pressure you need to move beyond your comfort zone and into the next level of fitness. A trainer should guide and educate you and keep track of your progress.

Because there are so many trainers out there and a wide range of varying styles and philosophies, we've broken down the basics of what to look for when hiring a trainer:

Certified
Never assume anything. Even if a trainer is working at a gym, it doesn’t mean that he is certified and even if a trainer says he is certified, make sure the certification is coming from a legitimate certification board. Some of the most recognized accrediting bodies are: The American College of Sports Medicine (acsm.org), National Academy of Sports Medicine (nasm.org) and The American Council on Exercise (acefitness.org). Ask the trainer where he was certified and check him out on the corresponding website. Also, your trainer should have a CPR and/or First Aid certification in the event of an accident or injury occurring during a training (dropping a weight on yourself, dizziness, muscle pull, etc.) session.

Education
The more knowledge your trainer has, the better your results. Continued education with the latest fitness developments will translate into up-to-the-minute and enhanced workouts for you with optimal results. And if you have any special conditions like diabetes or heart problems, find out if your trainer is educated in that area.

Experience

Make sure your trainer has several years of experience in your area of focus. For example, if your goal is to improve your tennis swing, then seek out a trainer who has worked with other tennis players and comes recommended.

Physical Readiness
Is your trainer in good shape? Can your trainer perform the exercises that he or she may be asking you to do? A trainer’s physical appearance is part of his or her marketing and your trainer should look like you'd like to look.

Questioning
Make sure your trainer is asking the right questions of you as well. Your trainer should be asking about such things as your medical history and evaluating your goals and needs. Your trainer should be in tune with what you want to get out of your workouts. Your trainer should ask about your daily activities to get an idea of what muscle groups you use the most and least.  And, yes, your trainer is going to have to weigh you at some point, so don’t freak out. This line of questioning will enable your trainer to set up the most ideal exercise plan for you.  

References
Don’t be shy. Talk to previous and current clients to see if a prospective trainer is right for you. Find out if your trainer has success stories. Ask clients if the trainer behaves professionally. Is he always running late or does he miss appointments?

Compatibility
As silly as it may sound, make sure you like the trainer. Feeling comfortable with your trainer becomes very important in day-to-day training. You need to feel like you can speak openly with your trainer about your life, since your daily interactions and personal activities will often deeply impact your state of health and fitness. And you need to feel comfortable enough to ask questions. Make sure you feel that you are being listened to and that your workouts are “your” workouts: Your trainer should be 100% focused on your improvement.

Cost
Costs may range from about $60 to $125 per hour depending on the trainer’s level of certification and whether the trainer comes to your home or you train at the gym. Does the trainer bring his own equipment? Is there a sports massage included? These will affect the price.


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