Grand County Health and Fitness: How to Choose a Personal Trainer or Group Exercise Instructor |

Grand County Health and Fitness: How to Choose a Personal Trainer or Group Exercise Instructor

Jackie Smith
Fitness Trail

1. Begin with a National Certification and Extensive Training/Experience

A personal trainer and group exercise instructor should be certified through a national certifying body, such as the American Council on Exercise (ACE) or the American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM), to ensure they have the foundational knowledge to provide you with a safe and effective exercise program.

The certification examinations, which ACE offers, are comprehensive 150-question, three hour exams which cover exercise physiology, kinesiology, anatomy, health screening, nutrition and instructional methodology. The trainer or instructor should also have extensive practical training prior to working with any clients or participants.

The most effective types of practical training are mentor/apprentice structured programs which require the trainer/instructor to work with an experienced fitness professional for an extended period of time. While possessing foundational credentials is crucial, experience is what enables the trainer/instructor to translate their knowledge into safe and effective fitness program designs.

Also, make certain you see written proof of certification to confirm that the certifications are current as some trainers/instructors allow their certifications to lapse.

Additionally, the trainer/instructor should hold a current CPR certification.

If you are interested in participating in specialty classes such as Pilates, Yoga or Indoor Group Cycling, require sport-specific training, or have special physical needs, your trainer/instructor should have the following:

– Specific certifications or degrees in addition to the foundational certifications mentioned above; and,

– Specific training and extensive experience in those disciplines

2. Ask for References

Asking for references from a group exercise instructor is probably not practical if you are a member of a large health club. However, you can certainly request information from the health club, which details the training that their staff is required to possess prior to working there. And, you can poll the membership, simply asking members what their opinions are regarding the instructor staff, the class formats and the results that those members have achieved. When working with a personal trainer however, you should always ask for references from their clientele to determine if this trainer is a professional and has met and exceeded their needs.

3. Make certain personal trainers and independent contractor group exercise instructors have liability insurance

Since many personal trainers and some group exercise instructors work as independent contractors, they should carry professional liability insurance. Also, trainers/instructors should explain to you in detail what their price structure is and their policies regarding cancellations, refunds, make-up sessions, and billing procedures. All of these business policies should be in writing and you should be given a copy for your records.

4. Identify the goals and objectives of the exercise program

Before hiring a trainer/instructor, clearly identify what your program goals are and make certain that you and your trainer/instructor are on the same page. Additionally, they should have you complete a thorough health history form and if you have special limitations, then you should be required to have your physician complete a physician’s release and exercise guidelines form, prior to beginning the exercise program.

Specific to trainers, they should perform a fitness assessment, take your body weight, girth measurements and body composition, prior to beginning the exercise program, to establish a baseline from which to progress and these measurements should be taken regularly to assess your progress.

5. Scope of Practice

Most trainers/instructors do not hold advanced degrees or licenses as registered dieticians, as physicians or physical therapists. Consequently, they should never dispense advice beyond their scope of practice which is clearly detailed in their certifications. They should refer you to licensed professionals if you are in need of that level of expertise.

6. Assess whether the trainer/instructor is a good fit for you

Lastly, is this someone you like and feel you will get along with throughout your training “partnership”? At the end of the day, if you like your trainer/instructor, have faith in them, and enjoy your sessions together, you are more likely to see the results you seek and that is what hiring a trainer/instructor is really all about!

” Jackie is a seasoned fitness professional with over 22 years teaching/coaching experience. She holds a B.S. in Exercise Science, ACE personal training and group exercise instructor certifications and is a LeMond RevMaster Group Indoor Cycling Master Trainer. She operates Never Summer Fitness in Grand Lake, which specializes in small, group fitness programs and personal training.

You can contact Jackie at her e- mail address: , phone number which is 970-531-3541 or via mail at P.O. Box 730, Grand Lake, CO 80447.

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