By John L. Boos, L.M.T., N.S.C.A., C.P.T.
No one is more important than you! When you finally decide to stop intending and take that first step towards doing –please, step with caution. Remember when you were a young child and your mother or father were standing waist high in the swimming pool and wanted you to jump in so that they could catch you? Remember how cautious and concerned you were about your safety?
But after you gave it some careful thought, gathered your trust and realized your parent’s care and commitment towards you, you jumped. Everything was OK 99% of the time. The reason for all of the hesitation and anxiety in the first place was that you, yes you, were and still are very important. You were truly worried about succeeding, but once you realized your parents were trustworthy, committed to you and cared very much for you, you and your parents became a working team.
I then ask you–why don’t people use this same attitude in picking a trainer? In the past 10 years I have had and still do have personal trainers as clients. It surprises me when I talk to them about why they want me to work with them, without fail they all say they don’t know enough. There is nothing wrong with that comeback. (I’m the first to admit that I’ll never know enough).
The big surprise to me is how little most of these so-called personal trainers know in the first place. They know some anatomy and even less physiology. Their knowledge of the top five pathologies is nil and their understanding of common bio-mechanical physics is zip, to say the least. If your trainer doesn’t have a clue of these things, then your results will be very limited and the trainer’s ability to work progressively with you through life situations could generate more harm than good.
The trainer’s I’m speaking of are the ones that have no formal education in exercise physiology or health and have less than enough years of personal experience in a learning environment. Do you need a degree in the field to be good? No! But it’s a good start. The reason I say it’s a good start is because to have all of the knowledge of what exercise can do is one thing, but to know exactly how to exercise is another.
A book may show and tell you, but it will never give you the in-depth understanding of experience. Most exercise-related educations over emphasize the cardiovascular system and under emphasize the brain (neurological), bio-mechanical level and the function of physics. This has been expressed to me by numerous people who are trainers and hold various degrees in the health field.
Nevertheless, having an education in the exercise field is a good start if you know how to acquire the much needed requirements. In addition, many clients think that because their trainer works out and has big muscles -he or she is therefore, a good trainer. Nothing could be further from the truth.
A trainer has to be a good analyst –of both themselves and others. A trainer must be able to assess and evaluate physical concerns that arise as the client deals with life’s physical challenges. The trainer must be able to negotiate each session based on those assessments with confidence and accuracy. The trainer must know when to refer out to other health professionals in a situation that calls for additional evaluation, assessment or another mode of care. A trainer must have a solid network of highly competent medical and health professionals for this.
These people should have a good understanding of the trainer’s competence and experience in order to assure that their goals are safely and properly obtained. A trainer should understand proper injury response. This can assist the client in reducing the negative effects of injury in the event of a mishap (sports, work, etc.). The trainer should be on call for common sense assistance or recommendation.
At our facility, we are available for assessment, evaluation, treatment or referral. We don’t just handle strength and fitness issues, because there are many other aspects to a client’s life. A good personal exercise professional should have many aspects to those services available. I find that most so-called personal trainers have little knowledge and experience yet are especially exuberant on fees.
Personally, I feel a trainer shouldn’t try to ask for the most from their clients. Trainers should give the most and expect the client to pay for the true worth of the service, of course, upon agreement.
So, when it comes to picking a trainer, please be advised that there is a lot to consider. No weekend course or 20 hour certification program is close to what is required to give an adequate service. Most quick certification courses are designed to make big bucks for the course developers at the expense of the person paying for it. That expense gets passed down to the consumer (as usual) who pays too much money and puts in too much time for inadequate results. It’s bad enough that the consumer pays with time and money but to get little in return, is worse yet.
There is also always the chance that injury can occur (an added insult to the wasted time and money). I realize that a lot of readers feel I’m exaggerating a bit. That’s your prerogative but if it were the case, I wouldn’t have clients that had so-called trainers and received little to no results. The compliments we receive for what we do for such clients are gratifying but also alarm me of the shortage of truly good professionals.
You have to use your head on this as well as your gut feeling (even if they come highly recommended). Can you trust them? Are they committed to you? Do they really care? Find ways to answer these three questions. Add their experience and knowledge. Follow it up with talking to several of their clients and then decide. Remember you’re worth it!