In an industry that is constantly evolving, the world of fitness is never boring. As a fitness professional, I get a lot of questions about what I do and why I do it. Each question, although relatively complex, has a simple answer.
I chose my profession because I love to motivate, converse, educate, and be enthusiastic around other people. My passion made college classes and clinical research thrilling. I also wholeheartedly believe that a healthy lifestyle extends positively to all aspects of an individual’s life, as well as their family, friends, and coworkers. The human body is miraculous and deserves to be treated so.
The incidence and severity of disease can be decreased through regular physical activity (insert flashing neon arrows). Even so, large populations of individuals still do not have the knowledge to maintain an active lifestyle for themselves or their families as preventative action. It is my career goal to educate those individuals who might not know where to begin or how to progress, or have diminished hope, through behavioral-change goals. However, in an industry that also has many non-credible sources and educators, it is important to be able to separate the two.
Below are some of the regularly asked questions within our field and their answers to help you in choosing a fitness professional who best fits into your plan.
What Is a Fitness Professional?
The best definition of a fitness professional comes from the American College of Sports Medicine:
“A Health Fitness Professional has a minimum of a bachelor’s degree in Exercise Science. The individual performs pre-participation health screenings, conducts physical fitness assessments, interprets results, develops exercise prescriptions, and applies behavioral and motivational strategies to apparently healthy individuals and individuals with medically controlled diseases and health conditions to support clients in adopting and maintaining healthy lifestyle behaviors. Academic preparation also can include fitness management, administration, and supervision.” (2015)
How Do You Become a Fitness Professional?
To become a fitness professional an individual must obtain a four-year degree or a graduate degree in Exercise Science, Kinesiology, Health Studies or in a health and fitness–related field. After graduating, an exam is taken through a certifying body, such as the American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM) or the National Academy for Sports Medicine (NASM). Some of the most common exams include the Certified Exercise Physiologist (formerly Health Fitness Specialist) and the Certified Personal Trainer. If an individual is in a cardiac rehab environment and obtains 400/500 hours of clinical exercise programming, the professional can then apply to take a clinical-level exam.
How Do Fitness Professionals Stay Up-to-Date?
ACSM is the largest sports medicine and exercise science organization in the world, and they continue to set the standards in the fitness industry. ACSM requires a minimum number of CECs (continuing education credits) and CEUs (continuing education units) in a three-year period to maintain certification.
NASM, a leader in providing technology-based education and certification solutions, also offers CEUs alongside specialization exams.
Alongside CECs, CEUs, and specialization exams, individuals can subscribe to additional research publications and continue to take certifying exams. Attending conferences, taking graduate classes in the field, and meeting other individuals in the industry is also a great way to network and learn from peers.
How Do I Choose a Fitness Professional That Is Right for Me?
Today, many individuals market themselves as trainers or nutritionists. When choosing an individual to work with, ask about their education and background, how many clients they have worked with, and their specializations. Working directly with an individual is similar to hiring for a job; don’t be afraid to ask for their resume or references! An individual who is qualified should happily comply.
It is also important to remember that a fitness professional is not a Registered Dietitian (RD). According to ethical guidelines, a fitness professional can discuss and provide insight into healthy alternatives but can’t develop meal plans or suggest drastic diet changes. For in-depth nutrition advice, a fitness professional should always refer to an RD. Fitness and nutrition go hand in hand, but knowing scope of practice is important.
At NIFS, we pride ourselves on providing the most well-rounded professionals for every health and wellness need. For more information on what qualifications a fitness professional should have, check out the following resources.
“Exercise is really important to me—it’s therapeutic.” —Michelle Obama
This blog was written by Ellyn Grant, Healthy Lifestyle Coordinator. To read more about the NIFS bloggers, click here.
Looking for Female Personal Trainers
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Some women may feel embarrassed working out with a male trainer. Men may feel intimidated by male trainers. Both and male and female trainers deliver quality workouts.
Most people want to slim down and live a healthier lifestyle. And while some reach their fitness goals alone, others need the help of a qualified personal trainer. When it comes time to make a final decision, you may wonder if it’s better to work with a male or female trainer.
Relationship with Your Personal Trainer
In life, you have many different types of relationships. You have a certain bond with your doctor, masseuse, and even your hairstylist. When you decide to work with a personal trainer, they also become a vital piece of equipment in your healthy lifestyle toolbox. And as such, you want a trainer who can guide you in the right direction. But what qualifications do they need? Does gender really matter?
What type of credentials does he or she possess? Are you looking for a trainer who specializes in weight training, or someone who can help you train for a marathon? Regardless of gender, the more versatile the trainer, the more creative they are when designing a personalized workout plan.
Do you need someone who is serious and militant-like with their training style, or do you want a trainer who is more compassionate? Your needs in the gym all play a role when deciding whether a male or female trainer is best for you.
– Training Method
While women have a better understanding of what it takes to get their pre-baby body back, they also know how difficult it is to build muscle mass while slimming down. If you’re a man, hiring a female trainer doesn’t mean you will have to forego your personal fitness goals. She’ll establish the training method that’s right for you.
A Female’s Perspective
For some women, going to the gym is a daunting task, particularly after they have children. Many women are embarrassed by their shape, which means it’s even more difficult to feel comfortable exercising in front of other people. Hiring a female trainer may make things easier since they can relate to what you are feeling.
With a female trainer, your comfort level may be higher, which will increase your motivation and help you get the most out of your workouts.
Furthermore, certain exercises may feel awkward when you perform them with a male, so doing the same exercise with a female may make you feel more relaxed. Females aren’t built the same as males, so you can’t expect the same exercises to produce identical results. And while there are a lot of experienced male trainers who help women whip their bodies into shape, you might not feel confident enough to take that chance.
Since a female trainer probably uses similar training methods when she works out, she won’t second-guess what she is doing when she trains another female. But it’s important to note that male trainers are equally as competent as the female counterparts.
A Male’s Perspective
Have you ever gone to the gym only to look around and compare yourself to everyone else because you thought they looked better than you? Although you may think that having a woman help you get fit is not manly, it is a lot better than feeling inadequate because you aren’t as ripped as your male trainer.
Yes, females are just as ripped as males, but there is just something about the male psyche that makes it easier to work out with women than the thought of being taunted by another man. And while you may feel the need to impress a female trainer, the initial novelty wears off pretty quickly so you can focus on reaching your fitness goals, as opposed to flexing your muscles.
If you’re having doubts, you can always schedule a trial lesson or two and see if you feel comfortable with a female trainer. While this isn’t the right decision for everyone, many people who do this find that they are happy with the choice they made.
Choosing a Personal Trainer
Whether you’re trying to lose weight or build muscle mass, the last thing you need is to feel uncomfortable with your trainer. When choosing a trainer, gender really shouldn’t come into play.
A qualified trainer is someone who has worked with all types of clients and has the education and experience to help you reach your fitness goals.
The process of hiring a personal trainer needs to be done with care. Regardless of whether you hire a female or male trainer, make sure that they have the proper qualifications, credentials, and experience.
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What are the benefits of having a personal trainer?
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Working out with a personal trainer delivers better results than when clients work out on their own. Personal trainers also help keep injury risks low. Personal trainers provide knowledge and insights clients find valuable.
Seeing a business card or other advertisement for a personal trainer may lead you to think about booking sessions. Personal trainers commonly offer fair session rates and flexible scheduling, which makes would-be clients more likely to sign up. Even when a trainer presents a truly solid deal on sessions, you may remain on the fence about actually booking hourly sessions.
The easiest way to sway your decision toward an affirmative decision about hiring a trainer involves little more than looking at the many positive benefits to hiring one.
The benefits are vast. A personal trainer does more than assisting with a workout. An effective trainer plays a major role in ensuring the client gets more of what he/she expects.
The Chances of Seeing Results Increase
People seeking out a personal trainer want to see results. They probably spent a lot of time working out already and discover results can be elusive without the right training approach.
Some wonder why they train consistently and can’t seem to develop the physique they want. A clear reason usually exists. The combination of the wrong diet and an improper or inefficient workout program undermine results. A skilled personal trainer can help a client get on the right track and see both short-term and long-term results.
An Original and Appropriate Program Design
Choosing particular exercises, even extra-beneficial ones, cannot be done at random. Exercises must be chosen with a proper program design in mind. Program design follows establishing some basic stats about a client’s current level of fitness and strength.
The trainer also listens to the client’s stated goals. When you convey your needs — fat loss, strength building, and more — a personal trainer can work to craft an appropriate program to meet those goals. Following the detailed program should lead to results.
Arriving at Faster Results
Overnight results are not possible. Training programs claiming to deliver overnight results generally aren’t good ones. The best approach to losing weight and building muscle entails taking part in a complete changeover to a healthier lifestyle. Once put on the right path, results become evident a lot quicker. Since a personal trainer possesses a great deal of knowledge about getting people on the best path possible, he/she could craft a good program that leads to faster, better results.
Engaging in Safer Workouts
Proper instruction that teaches basic form, at a bare minimum, helps cut down on injuries. Simply placing the bar in an improper position during a squat can lead someone to stumble, causing a major injury. Other things to beware of include:
Lifting too heavy an amount of weight Prematurely performing intermediate and advanced workouts Working out unsupervised Exercising too long and too frequently Not warming up properly beforehand
Small errors are not so small when they set up potentially big mishaps. Even missing one element of proper form could be more than enough to suffer a serious injury when performing a deadlift. A skilled trainer keeps safety in mind and won’t lead clients down a risky, unhelpful path.
Personal Trainers Inspire and Motivate
Personal trainers show the value of living a fitter and healthier life. They show there is more to working out than just gaining physical benefits. Sticking with a trainer for many months leads to a better understanding of a fit lifestyle. Revelations such as how working out helps with self-esteem and disease prevention become clear.
Personal trainers, themselves, are people who stuck with working out for years and years. They, too, go through periods where they don’t want to work out too hard and feel a little less than motivated. So, they know how to perk people back up to feel motivated to work hard in the gym.
Personal Trainers Make Things Fun
Working out can be intense, but this doesn’t mean sessions feel like a grind. Trainers know when to shake up a workout. Maybe the time is right to move away from free weights and try out kettlebells or plyometric exercises. Trainers understand clients need to be psychologically motivated to succeed. Boredom can ruin a mental outlook on exercising. Trainers keep things upbeat and moving, which replaces boredom with fun.
Personal Trainers are a Source of Knowledge
Knowledge sets the path to eating right, working out effectively, and improving conditioning. Reading books and watching online videos positively helps the cause of boosting knowledge, but nothing replaces having access to an experienced expert.
Personal trainers can answer direct, personalized questions about many areas of fitness.
The knowledge base of a personal trainer serves another important purpose. A trainer can steer you away from bad fitness advice. Fad diets and odd workout plans abound. A trainer knows which ones possess value and which should be avoided.
Looking for a Trainer
Personal trainers can only be effective after you hire one. Start looking around for a top personal trainer in your area. Many advertise on online classified ads. Others leave business cards at the front desk of local gyms. And you can always ask people in the gym if they know of a good trainer. Start looking right away! Once you start working out with a pro, all the previously mentioned benefits and more become accessible.
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