The summer is well and truly here! As people are flocking to the beach or to outdoor activities, personal training is required.

Many use personal training as a means to lose weight, get “buff”, keep healthy, athletic conditioning for high school and college athletes and preventing injuries during the summer months.

The growing market

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The demand for personal training has increased over the last decade as more people are becoming aware of the importance of maintaining daily fitness in their lives. Personal training has had significant growth in the last 10 years. 

According to the IBIS World Report; personal training had an almost 5% growth rate worldwide with over 10 billion in revenues. The projected growth worldwide in the fitness industry is expected to surpass 15% by 2024. More and more people from all over the world are seeking professional consults and training from fitness professionals as information from research and the internet becomes more public and available.

According to the National Strength and Conditioning Association(NSCA), a personal trainer is a health and fitness professional who uses an individualized approach to train clients for the primary goal of improving their personal health and fitness1.

The fitness industry as a whole is not as tightly regulated as other health care/medical professions such as chiropractic care, physical therapy, athletic training, and medicine. These professions require the professional to attend graduate level college work, graduate with a degree and then sit for a national certification/licensure before they are given their professional identifications.

Conversely, The fitness industry does not have such regulations and it does not require any person deeming themselves as the title of “personal trainer” to have any education or even have passed a certification exam. There is currently no national board of regulation for fitness professionals to monitor any educational requirement or activity of fitness professionals. Hence, This is important to know from the public’s stand point as they start searching for a fitness professional to hire to help them achieve their goals. 

Some people that become personal trainers do it as a second career and because they enjoy working with others. Some personal trainers credit their “people skills” as the sole reason they are successful. A large percentage of personal trainers working in the fitness industry do not have any formal education or are not certified as a personal trainer. As the trend towards hiring fitness professionals continues, it is important for people in the public to be prudent and well informed during their decision as to which type of fitness professional to hire.

As the economy remains stagnant, disposable income is a little harder to come by these days. It is important that you get your money’s worth when you hire a true fitness  professional.

This article will help you take some of the guesswork out in choosing a proper, competent fitness professional for achieving your goals.

hiring a fitness professional_3

Step 1: Find out if your Personal Trainer is properly Educated and Certified

As mentioned earlier, there are no prerequisite courses or formal education to becoming a personal trainer/fitness professional. This does not mean that all personal trainers are not formally educated. Many true fitness professionals who are passionate about their career are in fact well educated.

Degrees in areas such as exercise science, human physiology, biomechanics, kinesiology, biology, nutrition and biochemistry are sought by fitness professionals.

These degrees are from accredited universities and colleges all over the US and abroad and are both at the Bachelor and Master’s degree level. Some fitness professionals can hold both PhDs and/or other professional degrees such as physical therapy(DPT), chiropractic(DC), athletic trainer(ATC), and medicine (MD or DO).

In combination with a degree, the fitness professional will hold a certification(s) from an accredited organization that promotes health and fitness. Most reputable organizations will facilitate health and fitness awareness to both the public and fitness/healthcare/medical professionals.

These organizations will spend their revenues to provide education, health resources, educational grants and scholarships and promote evidence based research into the sports/medical sciences to promote healthy lifestyles throughout the world’s populations.

Among these organizations, the most respected and reputable organizations are:  American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM), the National Strength and Conditioning Association (NSCA), the Medical Fitness Association (MFA), the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics (AND), the National Academy of Sports Medicine (NASM), the American Council on Exercise (ACE) and the American Heart Association. 

These organizations offer certification programs that properly train, educate and exam each candidate that sits for them. These organizations assure that each certification exam is rigorous, valid and provide a competent check in order to prove that each candidate that passes the certification will be a competent professional.

Most competent fitness professionals will hold either a Bachelor or Master’s degree and will be certified in one or more of these organization’s personal trainer or specialization certifications.

What to look for…

When searching for a fitness professional, check to make sure that he or she holds a degree (BA/BS, MA/MS, PhD, etc…) and is certified as a personal trainer through the aforementioned organizations.

There are other fitness educational organizations in the industry, however the above mentioned organizations are considered to be the industry’s “most challenging” each operating over 40 years (based on the author’s research).

If the fitness professional does not tell you or the gym he or she is employed does not know who has certified them as a fitness professional, you can always contact the organization the professional claims to be certified through and ask for them to check if the professional is certified through them.

Organizations such as NASM and ASCM provide on their website a professionals check. Simply type the fitness professional’s name in the search engine to see if they come up as being certified through the organization.

A properly educated fitness professional is a sure way that you will be getting the most valid training and education for your cost.

Step 2: Is your Personal Trainer well experienced?

As fitness industry continues to expand, there are more new personal trainers/fitness professionals joining the industry. Many of these may be young adults embarking on a new career. Others may be starting over and personal training is an attractive new career for them. 

As with any industry; there are both novices and experts. It is important for the person seeking expertise and valid training find a fitness professional with significant experience.

Depending on your goals, it is important to choose a fitness professional who has the right amount of experience (along with proper education) to be able to help you. A typical fitness professional will be certified, have a degree and will have three years of experience working either for a: gym, fitness club, sports club (golf, tennis, basketball, baseball etc…), private studio or as an independent contractor.

For example, if your goal is primarily centered around weight loss or weight management; a fitness professional with experience with working with clients with goals in weight management should be part of your criteria when hiring a fitness professional. All fitness professionals should have a wide level of experience working with many types and levels of clients.

A good spectrum of experience for a fitness professional is of general health and wellness from ages 12-65, and both male and female clients.

Knowledge in nutrition should also be part of the fitness trainer’s forte.

While the fitness professional may not have a degree in nutrition or be a registered dietician, the fitness professional should be competent enough to provide you with some guidance in nutrition.

Almost all science degree course work and sub chapters in proper certification programs will cover nutrition. The fitness professional you hire should be able to coach you on the types of foods to eat, when to eat them and give general information on calorie consumption. If you desire more specific information or a special diet plan; the fitness professional will refer you to a registered dietician (RD).

Some more experienced fitness professionals (i.e. 5-10 years of experience), may have an area of expertise such as geriatric fitness, athletic training/conditioning, weight management, chronic disease fitness(cancer, diabetes, heart and pulmonary disease etc…). This area of expertise should be accompanied with appropriate education and certifications. 

Come back tomorrow when Keith continues to guide you towards choosing the best Personal Trainer for your requirements.

You may revisit the steps here –

 Step 1: Find out if your Personal Trainer is properly Educated and Certified.

Step 2: Is your Personal Trainer Well Experienced?

Connect here with Watchfit Expert Keith Chittenden

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