• How Do I Find a Personal Trainer That is Right for Me?
    Recommendations for any fitness enthusiast looking to work with a personal trainer.
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  • Personal Traininer right for mePersonal trainers work in a variety of settings including health clubs, recreation centers, and small studios. Certain personal trainers may work at off-site locations including parks or clients’ homes. It is also helpful to ask friends, colleagues, and medical professionals for their recommendations on fitness professionals in your area.

    When you have located a personal trainer, or trainers, take the time to interview them to find one that best fits your needs, goals, and personality. Use the following checklist of questions to help you with the interview.

    What was required in the certification process?
    Some fitness certifications are not accredited. The National Commission for Certifying Agencies (NCCA) is a reputable accreditation agency in charge of verifying the legitimacy of many different types of certifications from personal trainers to medical assistants.

    What continuing education is required to renew the certification?
    Most fitness certifications require continuing education to maintain the credential. The specific requirements vary amongst different fitness organizations. The NSCA requires their certified personal trainers to accumulate 20 hours of continuing education per calendar year.

    Certifications such as the NSCA-Certified Personal Trainer® (NSCA-CPT®), and the Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist® (CSCS®) are nationally recognized certifications that follow stringent standards for continuing education and recertification.

    Does the personal trainer have a degree in a health or fitness-related field?
    Trainers with an educational background in exercise physiology, sports medicine, health and wellness, physical education, or anatomy and physiology have a more thorough understanding of the human body and the effects of exercise.

    If the trainer recommends a nutritional program, do they have any nutritional education?
    Personal trainers are permitted to give general nutrition advice to their clients, but guidelines that are too specific may be outside of their scope of practice. Be aware of nutrition guidelines supported by the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics and the United States Department of Agriculture’s “2010 Dietary Guidelines for Americans.”

    How does the personal trainer keep current on research in strength training and conditioning?
    Many personal trainers may be members of fitness organizations as well as certified. Some memberships, such as the NSCA Membership, provide research-based educational resources for personal trainers to advance their careers.

    Does a personal trainer perform a health screening, conduct testing, and evaluate my current fitness level?
    A personal trainer should begin by learning about any past or current medical conditions; including injuries, pains, and cardiovascular conditions. The trainer may also conduct fitness tests to determine a safe and effective starting point for your training. In some cases, the trainer may ask for a medical release from your physician, or may request to consult with your physician.

    Does the trainer have a network of other health professionals such as physicians, physical therapists, nutrition specialists, and other fitness leaders?  
    A trainer should recommend sources for answering special questions outside of their scope of practice, including weight management, nutrition counseling, and rehabilitation. 

    Get more resources with an NSCA Membership. Locate NSCA-Certified Personal Trainers using NSCA's Find a Trainer. 

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    About the Author:


    The National Strength and Conditioning Association is the worldwide authority on strength and conditioning. We support and disseminate research-based knowledge and its practical application to improve athletic performance and fitness.

  • Disclaimer: The National Strength and Conditioning Association (NSCA) encourages the exchange of diverse opinions. The ideas, comments, and materials presented herein do not necessarily reflect the NSCA’s official position on an issue. The NSCA assumes no responsibility for any statements made by authors, whether as fact, opinion, or otherwise. 
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