Body Building Resources

Should You Hire a Trainer? How to
Choose the Right One
By Jean Lam

Should you work out with a trainer or by yourself? Working with a trainer is a big investment-in money, time, and commitment. But trainers aren't just for professional bodybuilders and athletes. They can help anyone who wants to stay fit. Here's how to know when you need a trainer-and how to find the right one.

Why Should You Work With a Trainer?

Not everybody needs a trainer. But if you've been doing the same body building routine for months without seeing results, have trouble staying consistent, or are simply not meeting your fitness goals, a trainer could be just what you need. Here are a few situations in which you should consider hiring a trainer.

You have trouble staying consistent. Consistency is the key to success in any workout program. Whether you're body building for a competition or you're just trying to get toned, you need to work out regularly to see any results. If you work out hard for a month, forget about the gym for two weeks, come back for a week, then take a month off, you may need a trainer. Regular appointments with a professional will force you to be consistent. That alone may make all the difference in your exercise routine.

You hate working out. Can't stand going to the gym? It can be tough to summon enthusiasm for working out, especially if you're new to it. For some people, working out provides a natural "high." For others, it can simply be a drag.

If you find yourself getting bored with your body building routine, you could benefit from the help of a trainer. Exercise isn't easy, but it shouldn't be torture. A trainer can help you by introducing variety and new challenges into your workout, or designing workout routines around exercises you enjoy. This will help give you the motivation you need to stick with a fitness routine.

You're spinning your wheels. Everyone knows it takes time to see results. But if you've been doing the same routine for six months or more without seeing any changes in your fitness level, you may need some help to break through the plateau. A trainer can help you achieve the results you're striving for.

Your workout routine isn't balanced. You can easily spot those guys at the gym with the huge, muscular arms and the stick-thin legs. They're doing a lot of upper-body work and neglecting the lower half. Body building requires balance-you have to develop your entire body, not just the part that looks good in a T-shirt. If your workout concentrates too much on one muscle set and ignores others, a trainer can help you even things out.

You're preparing for an event or competition. Got a body building competition, triathlon, or some other event to prepare for? If so, consider using a trainer temporarily to get you in top form. Even if you're usually fine working out on your own, a trainer can be of enormous help if you have a specific deadline for your fitness goals.

You have an injury. Whether you had surgery years ago or are recovering from a more recent injury, you probably should work with a trainer. Working out by yourself with an injury is dangerous if you don't know exactly what you're doing. A trainer can help you get the most from your time at the gym without aggravating an existing injury. He can also tell you when you should stop. This can be difficult to know on your own, particularly with old injuries, as you may be used to "pushing through the pain" and ignoring the signals your body sends you to stop.

How to Pick the Right Trainer

Not every trainer is the same. Personality, method, and experience are all factors that make a trainer suited to you-or not. Here are a few things to look for when choosing a trainer.

The right personality. Your trainer isn't just supposed to give you a workout. He's also expected to keep you motivated and on track. Make sure you choose a trainer whose style of motivation works for you. Some people thrive under a "tough love" approach, while others prefer a more supportive tone.

Professional certification. Your trainer should be educated in his field. There is no single certifying body that ensures a trainer is professionally trained; instead, there are a number of privately run certifying agencies. Here are a few of the better-known ones in the U.S.:

· American College of Sports Medicine
· American Council on Exercise
· International Sports Sciences Association
· National Council of Strength and Fitness
· National Federation of Professional Trainers
· National Strength and Conditioning Association

The right experience. Your trainer should have at least several years of experience in the type of fitness you're interested in. If you're into body building, for example, obviously you want someone with experience in that specific field. Look for someone who is used to working with people who have the same fitness goals and expectations you have. In addition, if you have an injury or health condition that will affect your workouts, your trainer should have some experience dealing with similar conditions.

References. An experienced trainer should be able to offer references. Be sure to call them and ask them about their experience with this trainer. Ask references about what they were trying to achieve with their workouts-and take note if their goals are similar to yours. If they are, it's a sign that this trainer works with people like you regularly and may be a good match.

A trainer can be a valuable ally as you work to reach your fitness goals. If you are struggling with your current workout habits or are not seeing results, it may be time to consider hiring one. Take your time and interview several candidates, and you should be able to find a trainer who can help you get the most out of each workout.

About the author

Jean Lam is the webmaster of Body Building Resource which provides articles on weight training, nutrition and fitness, body building book and DVDs.

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