Fit Chic NYC’s Blog

Is your personal trainer good enough?
March 2, 2009, 9:22 AM
Filed under: Personal trainer, Workout tips | Tags: , , , ,

There are a lot of different reasons why people hire trainers. Some fitness newbies don’t know where to begin or what proper form is, other clients want to learn to incorporate new fitness pieces such as the stability ball or kettlebell into their workout and others want to train for a sport. But whatever your reason, have you ever had a session with a personal trainer and left thinking why did you even bother?  There’s a big difference between paying someone to show you what you already know and having someone really work with you to help accomplish your fitness goals; and that distinction begins with proper accrediation and certification.

Nothing bothers me more then when I’m at the gym and I see a personal trainer instructing their client improperly or not paying close enough attention to their form – it makes me cringe; not to mention the fact it gives personal trainers a bad reputation! And as much as it pains me to say this, a lot of trainers just aren’t qualified. Being toned and muscular does not make you qualified! Nor does attending weekend course suddenly make you an expert.

To be a personal trainer, the job qualifications SHOULD begin with certification. Sadly, a lot of personal trainers that are currently working with clients are only in the process of studying for certification or are certified by a company who isn’t accredited! So, note to readers, when hiring a personal trainer, ask them about their credentials – when they became certified and most importantly, through which program? The International Health, Racquet and Sportsclub Association (IHRSA) has recently recommended that club owners only hire personal trainers with certifications from programs who have been accredited through third party agencies such as the National Commission for Certifying Agencies (NCCA). IHRSA also notes that sometimes a pertinent education and degree may act as a substitute for certification. For a list of accredited personal training certifications, click here.

Why is it important for a trainer to have proper certification? When instructed through these programs, trainers will gain an understanding of kinesiology and body mechanics including the proper way to train for specific goals. Realize that there are also separate certifications for trainers who work with special populations (children, elderly, disabled). I, for example, am a certified personal trainer through the American College of Sports Medicine, one of the top recognized programs in the fitness and medicial community. (However, I’m currently concentrating on my career in the magazine publishing industry and have put personal training on the back burner. But I still make fitness a priority in my life and am constantly at the gym or trying other fitness adventures.)

So proper certification is the foundation, but what makes a personal trainer great? Well they obviously need to have a foundation of the muscular and skeletal system, understand how the body moves, how muscle is built etc. – they need to be fitness experts. They also need to have strong communication and interpersonal skills – they need to be motivators. And finally, at large chain gyms, personal trainers need to be able to work the floor and bring in clients – they need to be sales persons.

Bottom line, when hiring personal trainer, ask about their background, look for the right experience and credentials. And during training, feel free to challenge them. If they are showing you an exercise or form that doesn’t make sense to you, always ASK why! Even a properly certified trainer isn’t an all-seeing, all-knowing fitness guru. YOU know your body best.


Update: I just found this great article on Women’s Health magazine online that talks about the dangers of hiring unqualified trainers!


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