One other important variable you may want to consider when planning a new or revised exercise program is hiring a fitness specialist or personal trainer to help with assessment and prescribe appropriate exercise. Though titles vary considerably within the fitness industry, this kind of professional has typically been known as a personal trainer, health fitness specialist, or exercise physiologist. Unlike the situation in the medical field, mandated standards are not in place for personal trainers or fitness specialists, so you should ask some specific questions to determine whether the person has appropriate qualifications. A list of questions you can ask is presented below; several “no” responses indicate that you may need to look elsewhere.
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Checklist for selecting a qualified personal trainer
- Do you have a certification from a nationally recognized organization such as the American College of Sports Medicine* or the National Strength and Conditioning Association? ____ Yes ____ No
- Do you have a college degree in the health and fitness field? ____ Yes ____ No
- Do you participate in continuing education to stay current in the field? ____ Yes ____ No
- Do you have certifications in CPR and first aid? ____ Yes ____ No
- Do you have liability insurance? ____ Yes ____ No
- Do you have experience working with people similar to me in terms of age, sex, and goals? ____ Yes ____ No
- Do you use preactivity screenings and fitness assessments? ____ Yes ____ No
- Do you include cardio-respiratory, muscular, and flexibility training in your program? ____ Yes ____ No
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Until more uniform and rigorous hiring standards are in place within the fitness industry, a “buyer beware” mindset seems to be appropriate and prudent. Your interview should help you determine whether the prospective trainer is a good match for you in terms of style and general approach to health and fitness. Some people prefer a very nurturing and encouraging style, whereas others tend to respond more positively to a trainer who has a lot of energy and is more demanding. Your task is to determine what motivational style and approach best suits your personality. One last question is whether hiring a fitness professional is a necessity or a luxury.
Most experts agree that meeting recommendations for physical activity does not require a trainer, but having someone who is focused on helping you reach your health and fitness goals can be very useful. Also, with some activities (e.g., resistance training), guidance provided by a trainer not only enhances the experience but also promotes