As we become more conscious of our health, personal training has become one of the fastest growing health-related fields. According to economists from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the industry has grown by 44% since 2001, and is expected to increase an additional 32% by 2020. The increased demand for personal trainers has resulted in so-called “experts” flooding an industry that lacks any federal or state regulation. Although licensure and registration bills have been proposed in several different states, the fact still remains that, at this time, anyone can claim to be a personal trainer—even if they have no related education or prior experience.
Those new to personal training often have no idea if their trainer is good or bad. All too often, personal trainers are selected based on their own physical appearance or on their likability—but this can be a recipe for disaster. Training must follow a scientific path that takes into account a person’s past, their present and what they have planned for the future. Being able to ascertain a client’s needs and apply a program individually tailored to him or her is a skill that must be learned through proper education and experience.
The best way for a consumer to assess the quality of a potential trainer is to evaluate the trainer’s education and experience. A little research can prevent painful and costly injuries in the long run. Ask to interview a potential trainer before beginning to work with him or her, and request information about qualifications, certifications, education and experience. Follow up with some research into where the certifications are from and the requirements needed to earn them.
Learning more about the gym where your trainer works can shed some light on previous clients’ satisfaction with the facility in general, too. A quality gym will insist on hiring well-qualified personal trainers, but unfortunately many gyms don’t require their trainers to have anything more than a high school diploma. Gyms may also be motivated by financial concerns to hire less-experienced or less-qualified trainers since they will work for less. This can lead to a dangerous combination for clients who are new to personal training.
In short, learning about your gym’s hiring practices before you start working with one can prevent you from falling victim to a trainer who means well but ends up hurting you in the end. After all, the whole point of working with a personal trainer is to improve your health and limit your risk of injury.
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