Sometimes when striving for a goal, no matter how good the intention may be, we might find ourselves unable to set a goal and begin the work, the plan stalls in some manner, or the whole project gets abandoned completely.
While I am all for self-motivation, there are times we need to call in the professionals. Someone who can help develop and oversee our plan, find some insights we may be missing, or direct us when we become overwhelmed and feel like giving up.
This step should be taken slowly and with intent. There are an abundance of personal trainers, health coaches, and life coaches to choose from. The field is growing rapidly. A word of warning here:
The fitness and wellness business, as well as the life-coaching business, is largely unregulated in the U.S. Any person can claim to be one or all of those professionals with no credentials. This is very disappointing to those of us who have worked hard to become educated and certified. It reflects badly upon the whole industry of wellness and motivation.
We are working hard to establish minimum standards within our industry, but until that day comes I have a few suggestions to help you find a qualified fitness/wellness professional.
First, get it in your mind, you are making an investment in yourself. Your health is everything. You would not invest your retirement money with an uncertified financial manager, and neither should you invest in your health with an uncertified trainer or coach.
#1) Check your trainer’s credentials *
Do not assume just because your trainer or instructor is employed by a facility they hold certifications. Some facilities do not require their trainers/instructors to be certified. Or at minimum may give them a quick 2 week training course, and most of that concerns marketing and selling over actual fitness knowledge. Several popular fitness brands require no group fitness or trainer certs to take their training. After a few hours on the weekend, you are, according to their standards, qualified to teach their classes. This might be okay if you could ensure everyone taking your class was a generally healthy person. I have yet to teach a class in 20 years in which every single participant was generally healthy. There is always someone with a tweaked knee, a sore hip, pregnant, bad shoulder. It is helpful to have addition knowledge on common conditions, and the modifications that taken to ensure the participant has a safe and successful experience.
I will happily show my certs to anyone who asks. My certs ensure I have, at the absolute minimum:
- a general knowledge of the human body and how it functions related to exercise in a healthy person.
- I keep my knowledge current through continuing education and re-certification every two years.
- I am qualified to purchase liability insurance (if your trainer or coach works independently, as I do, make sure they have liability insurance)
- I keep my CPR training current.
#2) Shop around-the price of training varies greatly. Rates are generally based on the facility, the trainer’s education, and the trainer’s experience. In my area it ranges from $25-$100/hr. Just like grandma always said, “You get what you pay for.” Another grandma said, “Don’t buy the cheapest item, don’t buy the most expensive item, if you find one that is mid-priced, you will likely find your best value.” Keep this in mind when determining what you are willing to invest in yourself.
#3) Check your options-most trainers offer session packages, the more you buy the less it costs. Consider small group training which is personal training with generally 2-4 people and can cut costs considerably. Online or in-home training with the right trainer is a nice alternative when time is tight. If you are a self-motivator you might only need a program design and run-through.
Maybe you just need a well-organized group fitness class. Most group fitness programs are less expensive than personal training, and some classes, like the ones I run, are designed and taught by a personal trainer, the downfall being less attention to the individual goals. Most experienced instructors will offer modifications to either make the movements easier for those who need a lighter workout, and progressions to pump it up for those wanting a bit more. The upside to this type of training is a lot of social interaction which also keeps us healthy. Win-win
#4) Make sure you and your trainer “click.” Many trainers offer a free initial consultation. This is the perfect time to evaluate if this person will be a good fit for you. If you are not feeling the love, move on. They should be discussing you and your goals. If most of the consultation is focused on selling you their skills, run. Find the right trainer with the right attitude to help you achieve your goals.
#5) Do you need specialty work due to your age or an injury? Some trainers now specialize in various formats. My clientele is getting older and so am I. I now carry additional specialty certs in Senior Fitness, Mind and Body Fitness, and Orthopedic Fitness to accommodate my clients and participants. And most of my continuing education is on these topics so I can stay informed on the subjects. Older adult fitness is a rapidly expanding field.
#6) Ask for references.
With a little bit of work on your part, you should be able to find a trainer or instructor who is well-suited to help you achieve your goals. And you will soon be on your way to success.
* Nationally recognized fitness certifications:
Personal Training: the top four- American Council on Exercise (ACE)/ American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM)/ National Academy of Sports Medicine (NASM)/ National Strength & Conditioning Association (NSCA)
Group Exercise: the top three-American Council on Exercise (ACE)/ Aerobics and Fitness Association (AFAA)/ National Exercise Trainers Association (NETA)
Health and Life Coaching: these are relatively new additions to the wellness world, and I cannot find enough research on the effectiveness of current programs to recommend any. I do carry my Health Coach cert through ACE. It used to be called a Lifestyle and Weight Management cert, which I previously held. I liked the idea of wellness/ health coaching so I went for it. I do not know much about life coaching, but do know of several people who swear by it. It is a new and emerging field, my best advice is to do your homework, and check references.
* Please make note there are many online certifications which are not worth the paper they are printed on. They require no knowledge, just a credit card. If a trainer has not invested in their education, do not invest in them to take care of your well-being.