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Making the Most of Personal Training
By Barbara A. Brehm, Ed.D.

Once found only in the homes of celebrities and the very wealthy, personal trainers are now seen in fitness centers across the country. Many people find that sessions with a personal trainer helps them refine and connect to their exercise programs.

What do personal trainers do?

The personal trainer's basic job is to help design an exercise program tailored to your health concerns, fitness goals and schedule. A personal trainer can also provide information on training principles and give motivational advice to help you stick to your exercise program. While celebrities and the very wealthy might hire a personal trainer to help them through each daily exercise session, most people are content to invest in a few initial meetings to get started, and then periodic check-ins to assess progress and further refine exercise program design.

How many training sessions will I need?

The amount of sessions you need is usually up to you. Some trainers have a required minimum for getting a new client started, others let you sign up for one at a time. Some people already have a fairly successful exercise program, and simply want an introduction to the weight room or unfamiliar exercise equipment. In these cases, a single session might be enough. Other people want more indepth help that includes a fitness assessment and extensive assistance with exercise program design. Such help might take four or more sessions. If this is your case, check with your trainer to see if he or she offers a discount for the purchase of several sessions.

How do I find a trainer?

Many fitness centers have trainers on staff or those they recommend. Your exercise instructors may also know of good trainers, or may be a member of a fitness organization that can recommend personal trainers in your area. Colleges and universities may have personal trainers associated with their physical education staff.

What will happen at our first session?

What takes place at your first session will depend upon your trainer and the purpose of your meeting. When you make your appointment, ask your trainer what he or she is expecting from you at the first meeting. You will usually be asked to complete medical clearance procedures. Be sure to find out whether you will need your physician to sign your form, and whether you will need a medical exam or a stress test.

Your trainer may also request information about the health concerns and fitness goals that will influence the design of your exercise program, so think about these before your first meeting. Health concerns refer not only to current health problems, but conditions for which you are at risk because of family history or lifestyle. For example, you may be interested in an exercise program that helps prevent heart disease if heart disease runs in your family -- even if you are currently in good health.

Before your first meeting, take a little time to think about your schedule. When will you make time to exercise? You might also wish to think about what has interfered with your plans to exercise in the past. What could help your new program be more successful? This input can help you and your trainer design an individualized program that is truly tailored not only to your health and fitness concerns but to your schedule, personal preferences and personal circumstances.

I know some people who met with a trainer for several weeks, but never stuck with their exercise programs. What happened?

Personal trainers are not magic. While they can provide guidance and great recommendations, you are still responsible for the exercise. You must work with the trainer to be sure the exercise recommendations match the time and effort you are willing to spend on an exercise program. Be ambitious, but be realistic. Better to do a little bit and continue for the years to come than to do a great deal for a few weeks and then quit entirely. Remember that spending money on a personal trainer does not get you in shape; exercise does!

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Articles appearing on this website are included as a learning resource for our visitors. While Living Strong does not necessarily endorse or agree with all of the information presented in each article, we feel the content contains worthwhile information and include it as a reference for your study. The information presented is specific in nature and may not be appropriate for your personal situation.



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