By Joli Guenther, MSSW, NASM
If you think Personal Trainers exist only in the realm of celebrities and gym rats, think again. Personal Trainers have become affordable and accessible without ever setting foot in a gym. If your home fitness routine has become a bit stale, or if you're having trouble getting started using your new elliptical or treadmill, investing in some time with a professional may be just the ticket to getting the most from your home fitness equipment.
Do you need a Personal Trainer? Although working out at home is the most convenient option for getting in your regular workouts, it can also leave you a bit isolated in designing and carrying out your fitness program. A personal trainer can help you get started on a fitness program, make recommendations for purchases that will complement your routine, bring variety to your program and keep your workouts challenging. Committing to regular appointments can also help keep you motivated and honest about sticking to your program. If you have health concerns or health-related goals, many trainers can also provide you with fitness assessments (such as body fat testing) and a willingness to work one-on-one with your health care provider to ensure your program will meet your needs. You can check out this article for more great reasons to consider investing in a personal trainer.
Find the right person. Personal trainers have traditionally been associated with health clubs, but today's trainers are more accessible than ever. Many trainers offer in-home or on-site sessions (such as meeting you at your office or in an outdoor location during lunch or after work). If you know of friends or family members who have had positive experiences, they may be able to provide you with a reference. Checking local advertisements, as well as online search tools (see the end of this article for an easy-to-use tool) is also a great way to search for professionals that may fit your needs. A reputable trainer will hold a credential from at least one NCCA certified organization (find a list of those organizations). Common certifications include: ACE, NASM and NSCA among others. Your trainer should also hold current certification in CPR and carry personal liability insurance.
Get the Most from your Personal Trainer. Personal training rates vary from $20-$100 per one hour session, with the lower end rates typical for group and package sessions. Before committing to a trainer, schedule an interview to check out credentials and talk about your expectations. Ask your trainer what they will do to keep you motivated, how often they will change your routine, what sort of assessments you can expect and for references of current clients. Discuss refund expectations, as well as cancellation policies and time limitations on the use of sessions purchased.
Although a trainer is a great way to establish diet accountability and is likely to provide you with tools that will help you measure and monitor your intake, unless your trainer is also a Registered Dietitian, he/she can only offer limited nutritional advice. Be concerned if your trainer pushes nutritional supplements because they are unnecessary for most individuals and the trainer may be receiving a substantial commission.
Finally, discuss the frequency of your sessions. If you're having difficulty staying motivated, meeting with your trainer on a weekly (or even more frequent basis) can help to drive your workouts. Scheduling a monthly check-in can provide you with frequent updates and a plan for your workouts, while giving you the independence to work out on your own. Many trainers will also offer small group sessions, providing training for you and a partner at substantial discount over one-on-one rates.
Weigh In: Have you used a Personal Trainer to get more from your home fitness equipment? What worked (or didn't work) well for you?