The fitness industry is a massive multi billion dollar a year industry that continues to grow year after year. Passing years show an increase of locations and niche market options offering up a large variety of traditional and new fitness types. From large fitness conglomerates to your Ma and Pa pilates studios or community center run fitness programs – there is always new entrepreneurs entering into this booming industry. This is a wonderful time to be invested in your health and pursuing a healthy, more fit version of you. Interestingly, this serge in the industry has also been met by a rise in unhealthy and obese individuals which puts a huge strain on the medical profession resulting in another billion-dollar industry to help manage the unwell. Many of these individuals could greatly benefit from a lifestyle intervention; but unfortunately, due to factors such as physical health concerns, socioeconomics, psychological (mental illnesses) and a lack of motivation, these changes just seems unattainable.
Millions of otherwise healthy people still struggle to find balance in their lives and make appropriate lifestyle changes to solidify a routine with consistent fitness. As mentioned earlier though, the options are virtually limitless when it comes to getting started. No matter what it is that peaks your interest when it comes to being physically active, there is always option for you to jump in to. Whether you are into group fitness classes, yoga, cross-fit, bootcamps or traditional resistance training with weights there is absolutely a local or near by option for you. Find what it is you are interested in exploring. Do you research and figure out what speaks to you; do a google search, make a call, or just stop on into a location and ask for a tour and some information.
Once you have found a location and an activity you are interested in getting involved in, actually getting started is the next step. Many people make this step to initiate a new fitness routine and get set up with a membership or class pass to take action, but never even step foot back inside the facility. Do not let this happen to you! If you are feeling anxious, nervous or just down right uncertain about whether this is the right choice for you; reach out to the customer service at your location and inquire about having someone to guide you through you welcoming process to ensure you feel at home and comfortable in the environment. See if you can talk to the instructor of your class or one of the trainers, these people are the professionals, and this is what they do – help people find their passion for fitness! Even if you do not have the newbie jitters about getting started, connecting with one of the trained professionals who work at your facility is a great way to feel welcomed, build rapport and ask any questions you may have about the routine you are embarking into. Just as a dentist is the person you go to if you have a toothache, a certified personal trainer in a gym should be your professional of choice when it comes to things such as physical exercise routines, movement mechanics, improving body composition and keeping healthy.
A certified personal trainer is someone who has invested in themselves to take traditional and/or continued education courses targeted around the topics of fitness and wellness, human physiology, exercise movement mechanics, sports injuries, nutrition, lifestyle and so much more. Just as there are seemingly infinite amount of fitness markets and modalities to choose from, there is an equal amount of general or niche education courses for professionals to take. Personal trainers work in a private, semi-private or small group training capacity to help people learn appropriate exercise to help them with their goals. Any good personal trainer should have well established protocols in place to meet with members and offer complimentary consultations, at which point they will really dive into your health/exercise history, goals, inspirations, motivations and truly why this is so important to you. This information along with results from a thorough assessment of your posture and movement, will allow the trainer to make well educated insight into what the most appropriate type of exercise routine for you is to ensure you are successful with reaching your goals. This experience should educate and motivate you. Now that you have been assessed and provided some guidance towards how you can capitalize on your goals you have the information you need to be confident and successful.
For some, having this information will be exactly what they need to get started in the right direction; for others, this may open a whole new equation to comprehend – how to utilize this information and effectively use it. However, let me share with you a situation that happens too many times to count within fitness facilities. People let their ego take the wheel and without having a good understanding of how to move properly, let alone apply weight to these movement mechanics, get started lifting weights and blindly go about a routine they have found online, a friend told them about or they have seen someone else perform. For the general population, this is not a good approach to being successful and even runs the risk of injury which can be devastating to a newly established routine. For many people just starting out, taking the time to chat with trainer you have previously spoken with about introductory options to learn the basics behind your areas of opportunity with your movements, understanding mobility limitations and what exercises and variations you should be doing or avoiding is highly recommended. This is particularly true if any of the following apply to you:
· You are starting a brand-new fitness routine
· You are uncertain of best exercises for your body and how to perform them
· You have known postural issues or other structural abnormalities
· You have acute or chronic aches and pains
· You have had an injury (significant or not – old or new) which you did not see a medical professional regarding
· You have limited range of motion or mobility with specific muscle groups or joints
· You have any underlying health conditions which could contraindications to certain types of exercise
· You are not internally motivated
· You require some accountability to ensure you follow through
· You would rather be safe than sorry; ensure you are doing things properly
· You want the best results in the most effective manor possible
The best practise would be that if any one of these things apply to you, you should connect with a trainer to ensure not only your safety but your end results.
When it comes to working with a trainer, you do want to ensure that the one you select is going to be a good fit for you. Do not pick the first one who approaches you and do not assume they are all the same. As mentioned before, there are many different types of fitness education available so you want to ensure that whoever it is that you connect with is someone you feel comfortable has the education and the experience needed to be the best possible solution for you. Just being friendly and personable does not guarantee a quality trainer; but are great qualities to look for! Ask questions, get to know them and if you have found you match – ask them what packages are available to help you on your path. Now, some people will argue that there is no point in paying for a personal trainer because there are so many free to cheap options available online from YouTube, to social media and other influential fitness icons who have established a name for themselves that investing money into a personal trainer is a waste. There is no doubt that there is an endless supply of free or cheap options available that are made very accessible. You have variety to pick and choose what you like the most and then be able to do them whenever and wherever you want. No doubt an incredibly helpful way to get inspired or pick up a new routine if you are not familiar with constructing a routine on your own. However, you do need to consider this – as with most things in life, there is a continuum of the cheapest to the best when it comes to value and service. This applies to virtually everything in our lives whether it is choosing your morning Starbucks over the brew from the convenient store or buying your wedding dress from Vera Wang or a hand-me-down store downtown. You always get what you pay for!
So, what is it exactly that you can expect from working one on one with a trainer? What is the value maker that would set this service apart from something sourced online? Here is a bit of a breakdown as to what it is you can and should expect from an appropriately qualified trainer. A great personal trainer at face value is always going to have a winning personality. This is going to be someone that is uplifting and motivating that can bring excellent energy to each and every session, so when there are days you don’t feel like exercising, your trainer will pick you up and make it his goal to ensure that hour session you have is the highlight of your day. A trainer should present with a professional demeanor, be clean and well dressed, organized and prepared/ready to go when you arrive. A trainer should have excellent communication skills and always be able to actively listen to the client to understand how they are feeling and what else they are dealing with in life that may suggest modifications are needed on the daily plan.
Outside of these valuable personality traits that will ensure you have a good connection, have fun and build a professional relationship with your trainer there are also some key components that a trainer should bring to the table during your sessions. A personal trainer’s job is to constantly be assessing and analyzing how you present on a given day or during any specific exercise. A very defined eye for detail when it comes to reading body language and analyzing movement patterns is essential. This alone is perhaps one of the most valuable things a trainer can provide. This attention to detail dictates whether you are moving through the exercise with proper connection, tension, stability and mechanics. This is going to ensure not only that you are not reinforcing poor movement patterns but that you are safe and avoiding the risk of injury. This attention to detail also means you are getting instant feedback and on-the-spot exercise modifications to ensure you are progressing in the most appropriate fashion possible. This simply is not something that you can get from following random online workouts or watching tutorials online. Having an external eye watching and analyzing your movement is so important early on to develop proper movement patterns. Your body will do an excellent job at compensating and finding the easiest path of resistance to do the movements you are asking which can put unnecessary force and tension on the supporting areas of body. Although you may have physically moved from point A to point B in the exercise it does not mean you did so in an optimal fashion.
As mentioned at the beginning of this article, a certified personal trainer is the go-to professional when it comes to physical exercise and human movement. There is not one other medical professional or physical therapist out there who invests 2-4 hours per week for 3, 6, 12 (+) months with their clients. No other professional will watch how you walk, run, jump, bend over to tie your shoe, reach over head, push, pull, sit, stand ..I think you get the idea. This relationship a trainer has with their client is unparalleled to anyone else and hands-down trumps the attention and investment in you that you will get from someone online who has never seen you, spoke to you or watched the way that you move.
In conclusion, I hope that this has been a reference for you to be able to appreciate some of the basic considerations to be made when it comes to getting started with a new routine within the fitness industry. Start with some research and figure out what it is gets you excited. Pick your location and your preferred method of exercise. Connect with a professional who can assess you and provide you feedback on what the best exercises for you to do or to avoid are. Decide if you would benefit from the professional coaching experience of a certified personal trainer. If you take this opportunity to learn, grown and excel at a new skill while working with a trainer, embrace the journey and take advantage of this investment in yourself to challenge yourself to be the best version of you possible!