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Working with a personal trainer

If you have had a hard time sticking with regular exercise, you may want to hire a personal trainer. Personal trainers are not only for athletes. They can help people of all ages and abilities reach their fitness goals. A personal trainer can help you create a fitness plan that is right for you and help you stick with it.

The Benefits of a Personal Trainer

A personal trainer can:

  • Assess your current level of fitness
  • Help you find an exercise program that is safe and works well for you
  • Help you set and achieve realistic fitness goals
  • Teach you the correct way to do exercises
  • Help you get the most out of your workout time
  • Offer support, guidance, and feedback
  • Provide motivation to continue exercising
  • Work with your health care provider or other health care professionals to create an exercise program if you are recovering from an illness or injury
  • Offer advice on lifestyle changes to improve fitness

Affording a Personal Trainer

Of course, hiring a personal trainer does cost money. The hourly rate for trainers can range from $20 to $100 an hour. These costs vary depending on the trainer's location, experience, and type of workout.

Hiring a trainer may be more affordable than you think. Some trainers will charge less if you commit to a long-term package or pay for all your sessions upfront. You can also save money if you do 30-minute sessions or do sessions with a friend or group.

Here are some questions to ask about the cost:

  • How much do you charge for a session?
  • How long are your sessions?
  • What services do I get for that price?
  • Are there any other fees I need to pay (such as gym membership)?
  • Do you offer any discounts or package deals?
  • Do you offer any group sessions that are less expensive?

Choosing a Personal Trainer

You can find personal trainers in your area by asking friends, family members, or coworkers for referrals. You can also check with local fitness centers and health clubs. Before you hire a personal trainer, meet with that person and ask about their training and experience. Here are some things to look for:

  • Training. Make sure your personal trainer has credentials. Look for National Commission for Certifying Agencies (NCCA) accredited certification. Another plus is a trainer who has a college degree in exercise science, physical education, or a related field. This shows that the trainer has a solid background in fitness.
  • Experience. Find out how long they have been a personal trainer. Ask about what types of clients the trainer typically works with. If you have a health condition, ask about the trainer's experience working with others who have had this condition. You can also ask for references from other clients.
  • Personality. It is important to find a personal trainer you like and think you can work with. Ask yourself if the trainer explains things in a way you can understand and seems open to your questions and concerns.
  • Schedule. Make sure the trainer can work within your schedule. Ask about cancellation policies and if you have to pay for sessions you need to cancel.

Know the Limits of Your Personal Trainer

Personal trainers can offer you professional advice on exercise. They can also provide general tips on living a healthy lifestyle. But be wary of a trainer who wants to offer more than that. Personal trainers are guided by a code of ethics and scope of practice for their field. Some red flags to watch for include:

  • Offering medical advice. Your trainer can give you tips for a healthy lifestyle, but they should not tell you how to treat a medical condition.
  • Going against your provider's orders. If your provider has set limits on the type or amount of exercise you can do, your trainer should stay within these limits.
  • Touching you inappropriately. Your trainer may need to touch you as part of the instruction. If this makes you uncomfortable, let your trainer know. They should be able to instruct you without touching you at all. Your trainer should never touch you in any way that is sexual.
  • Selling nutritional supplements. Your trainer should not prescribe or sell you nutritional supplements. Providers and dietitians are the only health professionals qualified to give specific nutritional advice.

When to Call Your Doctor

If you have been inactive for a while, or have a medical condition, you should talk with your provider to make sure you are healthy enough for exercise.

Alternative Names

Exercise - personal trainer

References

American College of Sports Medicine. Using a Personal Trainer. 2011. www.acsm.org/docs/default-source/brochures/using-a-personal-trainer.pdf?sfvrsn=4. Accessed October 19, 2016.

American Council on Exercise. How to Choose the Right Personal Trainer. 2014. www.acefitness.org/acefit/healthy_living_fit_facts_content.aspx?itemid=19. Accessed October 19, 2016.

Bryant CX, Green DJ, eds. ACE Personal Trainer Manual. 4th ed. American Council on Exercise. 2010. www.acefitness.org/academy/AcademyElitePDFs/ACE_PT4th_Manual_Ch1.pdf. Accessed October 19, 2016.

Review Date 9/3/2016

Updated by: Linda J. Vorvick, MD, Clinical Associate Professor, Department of Family Medicine, UW Medicine, School of Medicine, University of Washington, Seattle, WA. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Isla Ogilvie, PhD, and the A.D.A.M. Editorial team.

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