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Want to Hire a Personal Trainer? Here's What You Need to Know

By: Katie Verburg

Katie Verburg is an ACSM Certified Personal Trainer who is currently studying to become a Holistic Health Coach. She has been in the health and fitness industry for a decade. Here, she reveals what to be wary of when looking for a personal trainer.

Does anyone else notice that there are more fitness clubs, studios, and “online coaches” than ever before? While this seems like a positive shift for our world, it may also be a trap for an inexperienced person who’s looking to become healthier.

According to the International Health, Racquet, and Sportsclub Association (IHRSA), the fitness industry is a $30 billion industry, with no signs of stopping anytime soon. In the most recent studies available, an estimated 160 million Americans are considered to be overweight, with this data only increasing over time. With no stop in sight, this explains the prevalent sightings of personal trainers.

I’ve worked in the health and fitness industry for nearly a decade, and one of the most frustrating things I’ve experienced is seeing someone work with an inexperienced person who claims to know how to help him or her. As a fitness professional, I am constantly trying to bring awareness into how serious of a problem this is in today’s world. 

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Take Research Seriously

A qualified personal trainer is not “one size fits all.” Unfortunately, there are too many certifications that are available without any type of health or fitness background, and a handful of those certifications are not accredited, which means a college degree isn’t a requirement. Do the proper research to figure out which organization your potential personal trainer is certified through, ask them what their background is, or what they specialize in. Take this process seriously and ask as many questions as you need to. Keep in mind that the American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM), National Academy of Sports Medicine (NASM), and National Strength and Conditioning Association (NSCA) are the most scientifically researched programs.

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Here are a few tips if you're someone who is thinking of hiring a personal trainer to help you reach those wellness goals.

1. Avoid personal trainers who also claim to be a "nutrition coach” or “macro coach.” These two things don’t exist, and there is no legitimate certification for either of these titles. Personal trainers should not go out of their scope of practice by prescribing meal plans, diets, or macro counting. Nutrition should be left for registered dietitians.

2. Avoid personal trainers if they are only available to you online. We live in a world where everything is at our fingertips, including online personal trainers. This one still confuses me, because how can someone create a training program for you online when they can’t see how you move in person? If this route appeases you, be sure that you can see them at least 1-2 times per month in person. Accountability will most likely be lost with online personal trainers, and so will all of the money you spend on them.

3. Avoid personal trainers if you don’t like what you see. Oftentimes, people select personal trainers at their own local fitness club because of the convenience, which is great. However, pay attention to how these trainers act when they’re working with other clients. Notice if they’re correcting form, properly warming up, and putting their phone away. If you’re paying a personal trainer, he or she should have the professionalism to leave their phone out of sight.

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