Columnist: Things to think about when choosing a personal trainer

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Personal training, what is it? Why might you need it and how do you find a personal trainer?

One of the fastest growing fields in the exercise science industry, personal training is one of the most misunderstood topics among potential clients and new trainers.

So exactly what is personal training? First, let’s go through what it is not.

It is not a workout that your trainer gets online and takes you through. It is not a workout that your trainer created and then gave to all his or her clients for the day or week. And it is not a workout that your trainer pulls from a file and gives to you with a smile and saying, “Oh, this is a good one.”

Personal training is an exercise program specifically created after a thorough assessment that will address your musculoskeletal function. This personal approach to exercise will help you achieve your goals in a progressive manner, while addressing any muscle imbalance, joint dysfunction or any posture impairments you may have.

Why do you need a personal trainer? Well, believe it or not, most people have some degree of movement impairment, which has been shown to alter force production, proprioception, coordination and movement mechanics.

What does this mean? It means that you are one wrong step away from an injury.

Movement impairments develop over time and are the result of compensations and adaptations from repeated tissue overload and dysfunction. Going to the gym and working on the elliptical for 30 minutes will not fix these. You need to know what to stretch, what to strengthen and how to put it all together so you can be injury free and reach your fitness goals.

How do you find a trainer and what should you look for? Getting a personal training certification can be easily achieved without any supervised training on in-person technique or program design.

Your personal trainer could have very easily flipped through a few books, sat down at a computer to take a multiple question test, and then printed out a piece of paper that says, “certified.”

That is not really the type of person you want assessing your movement and then creating a program.

The good news is that a lot of fitness facilities require all their personal trainers to hold certifications from accredited agencies.

Several of the most popular agencies include: American Council on Exercise, American College of Sports Medicine, National Academy of Sports Medicine and National Strength and Conditioning Association.

It is also important to not judge a book by its cover.

Just because a trainer looks the part does not mean that he or she has the sufficient knowledge or accreditation to train you.

A competent fitness professional will know how to give you a good workout — taking your goals and movement dysfunction into account.

It is important to be an educated consumer so before hiring a personal trainer make sure that he or she has the required credentials.

Theresa Osborne is the Wellness Program director at the Walla Walla YMCA. She has a master’s in exercise science and several certifications from the National Academy of Sports Medicine.

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