So you want to start an exercise program, preferably one with structure and focus. Where do you begin? You’ve tried to start exercise programs on your own before and they fizzled out. How do you stay motivated? How do you know you’re doing things right? How do you know if you’re doing too much? This is where a personal trainer can make all the difference between staying on track, understanding your abilities and limitations and having fun in the process or floundering in a facility where everyone else looks like they know what they’re doing. Certified personal trainers will have formal training from any one of a number of colleges, universities, and/or accredited sports organizations in Canada. Ask to see their credentials. You can even ask for references. Interview several trainers to find the one that gels with you. Maybe you need a softer approach or maybe you need someone who won’t take “I forgot my runners” as an excuse. Only you can make that decision. Once you’ve chosen your trainer, they’ll help you gauge your current fitness level, set some short term and long term goals and help you fill in the gap with the appropriate exercises. As you progress, your trainer will be there to guide you to the next level. If you’ve never experienced a session with a personal trainer, ask one for a consultation and demonstration to see if it’s the right decision for you. They can make the process of getting fit and improving your health easier, safe and more fun.
Why Consider Working with a Personal Trainer?
Think back to your exercising efforts in the past. How did they work out for you? If the answer is “no so well”, then it might be time to change the way you approach exercise. In fact, to quote Robin Williams, “The definition of insanity is doing the same thing, in the same way and expecting different results.”
Working with a personal trainer requires a certain amount of accountability and responsibility. After all, when you hire a personal trainer you’re creating a team that is working toward one goal; a healthier YOU. You have to be dedicated to appointment times with your trainer, which means putting your appointments in your daytimer in ink. You need to make an effort to do all the exercises as outlined for you, and not stop because you don’t feel like doing the work anymore. And between appointments, it’s going to be up to you to make good choices such as maintaining your exercise routine and sticking with a nutritional program that’s going to help you accomplish your goals.
If you want to think about it in financial terms, you’ve paid for this service so it just makes sense to use it. You wouldn’t pay for college course and then not take it.
Your trainer can provide you with an external source of encouragement when your enthusiasm is waning. He/she acts as a guide to keep you safe and on the right track. After all, bad habits could lead to injuries. And who better to celebrate your accomplishments with than the person who’s been right there with you through it all? Your trainer can be your source of inspiration and act as a role model when you begin to wonder if you can make it through another training session (if they can do it, so can I). They can be a shining example to you of what a healthy individual looks like and how they conduct themselves.
What Personal Trainers Do For You
Your first appointment is normally spent getting to know each other. You and your new trainer will talk about your health, fitness goals, exercise history and your exercise likes and dislikes.
Your trainer should do a baseline assessment of your physical condition wherein they will ask you about:
- any physical conditions or limitations you have
- any medications you are taking, and/or
- if you have a doctor’s ok to undertake a program of physical activity
They will most likely take body measurements, and possibly even a photo if you’re agreeable to it, so that can track your progress over the coming weeks. All this and more is used to create a personalized fitness program for you.
You can choose to work with a personal trainer as often as you wish. At first, it’s a good idea to see them once or twice a week so that you develop along the right track. Once you’re comfortable with your routine, you can choose to decrease the amount of time you spend with your trainer in the gym but it’s still a good idea to continue to check in with them at least once a month in case you’ve developed some bad habits or need to change up your routine.
During your initial sessions with your trainer, don’t “suck it up”. If something hurts, let them know right away so they can adjust the exercise for you. You’re not doing your body any good by continuing an exercise that hurts. Your trainer will show you how to guard your back, use your legs and keep your neck in a safe position while exercising. All this allows you to progress the way you should and avoid injury and strain.
Your trainer will keep records of your progress for you so you can see how well you’re doing and so that they can keep you on track to reach your goals. After all, there’s no sense in doing exercise routines that become too easy for you; you stop making progress and this is counterproductive to the reasons why you chose to work with a trainer. If you hit a plateau, as we all do, your trainer will encourage you, and show you how to alter your training so that your body responds just that little bit more to break through and continue making success. Your trainer will also serve as your “reality check” when you’re tempted to tell yourself you’re doing more, or making more progress, than you actually are. Simply put, they keep you honest.
Personal trainers show you the right way and the wrong way to use the equipment in a gym (believe me, there IS a wrong way). Using equipment the wrong way can result in injury or strain. It’s important to pay attention to the way you hold the weights, lift your arms and legs, sit on a machine, stand on a machine, pull on a machine, or use something like an exercise ball. It’s even very important to warm up, stretch, and cool down in the correct order and manner. Your trainer will show you all this and eventually it will become second nature. This may sound like a lot at first but it keeps you safe, gives you confidence, and enhances your improvement.
Your trainer is there to answer your questions about nutrition, general health, exercise, and more. Their training allows them to explain how your body works and responds to the exercises you are doing and the foods you’re eating so that you have an “inside out” mirror, if you will. Once you know how things affect your muscles, your lungs and your nervous system, you’ll begin to make better choices based on knowledge and not cravings.
Questions to Ask and Answers to Expect
Before you hire a personal trainer you should ask the following questions:
- What are your qualifications and certification?
A qualified personal trainer has an education in physiology, health promotion, athletic training, kinesiology or a similar field. They should have first aid and CPR certification as well as certification from a reputable organization such as ACSM, ACE, IDEA, YMCA, NSCA or similar.
- Do you have liability insurance?
They should answer yes.
- What are your policies and procedures?
A personal trainer should have a documented policy explaining their services, costs, cancellations, length of contract, and emergency procedures. They should also require a medical clearance form to be completed before they work with you.
Finally, you should feel comfortable with the trainer, his/her style of communication and the expectations of your time together. 1
1. Sports Medicine
Carol Roy is a Natural Health Practitioner who received her diploma from the Alternative Medicine College of Canada in Montreal, Quebec. With 12 years experience in her area of expertise, natural health and wellness, Carol has also trained to become a fully qualified Reiki Master, Quantum Touch Practitioner, and Reflexologist.
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