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With all the people out there who call themselves personal trainers, where do you begin in the interview process?  Here are some guidelines in order to help you find the most qualified fitness professional.

A). Your trainer should be certified by a nationally accredited certifying agency.  The better certifications are accredited by the NCCA (National Commission for Certifying Agencies). The NCCA is a nongovernmental, nonprofit agency that sets national standards for certifying agencies.  In 1993 the (NSCA) National Strength & Conditioning Association offered the only fitness related certification programs to be accredited by the NCCA.  Since then, many other fitness certification organizations followed their lead.

B). A trainer that has a college degree in Exercise Physiology, Kinesiology, or related field, will have a greater in depth knowledge of their profession.

C). If you have musculoskeletal or metabolic concerns, find out if the trainer knows how to work with your injuries, not around them.  Ask them what protocol they would follow and what the progression is on working with that particular injury.

D). Ask them if they know what the “Five Point Contact Rule” is.  This is a basic concept used applied most all resistance training activities.  You will be surprised how many trainers don’t know about this.

E). Ask the trainer when was the last time they took a continuing education course in their field of expertise, and what topic it was on, or better yet, if they themselves hold presentations or seminars on fitness related topics.

F). Ask the trainer if and how they test clients to see if they are ready to perform plyometrics.  These are jumping and high impact activities. If you’re not ready for these, you can get seriously injured.  A lot of trainers will have you jumping around before you may be ready to do so.

G). If the trainer tries to sell you on a bunch of supplements such as fat burners, and special energy cocktails, you may want to steer clear of them.  Many of these products are not approved by the FDA and can be harmful to you, especially if you are hypertensive.

H). A good trainer will start by collecting important data through a thorough fitness evaluation, which should consist of many of the following: Resting heart rate, blood pressure, height, weight, age, body composition assessment, circumferences, postural assessment, flexibility assessment, submax cardiovascular efficiency test, strength test, and a complete musculoskeletal and metabolic history evaluation.  This will help the trainer to determine what areas need to be addressed, and create a specifically structured program for you.

I). Generally trainers offer a complimentary session.  Try before you buy.

J). Don’t forget to ask for references.  Good trainers will have a close relationship with other health professionals in their community, such as physical therapists, and medical doctors.

Well this should help you get a good start in finding the most qualified trainer, and avoid what we call “Chop Artists”, the trainers that will end up injuring you.

Good luck, and happy hunting!

Jon Torerk, CSCS