Sunday, April 4, 2010

What's A Personal Trainer All About?

Most of the personal training I do takes place at a local college.

Today I was lucky enough to spend some time at the school's annual health and fitness expo. I had a chance to schmooze with students, faculty and staff.

During my 4.5 hours at this expo, I was asked the same question 3 or 4 times:
As a trainer, do you put together a routine first, then spend the rest of the sessions implementing that program?
I was really surprised by the frequency of this question.

Now to be fair, I have no idea how an architect works, so I might ask, "So, do you draw the buildings first, then spend the rest of the time coloring in the walls?"

For anyone who ever wondered, "Is a trainer for me? Should I spend the money on a trainer?"—
here is a rough description of what I actually do. ( I can't speak for all trainers, because our methodologies might be different.)

1. Assessment
I always start with an assessment to determine the client's physical strengths and weaknesses. The assessment includes muscular strength, muscular endurance, blood pressure, resting heart rate, working heart rate, body fat percentage and flexibility.

2. Goals
Once all of the data is in, I review the client's goals, which can include any one or more of the following : weight loss, muscle building, correction of a muscular imbalance, helping to lower blood pressure or cholesterol, toning, improving flexibility or balance.

3. Plan of Attack
Now all this data is in, I can put together a plan of attack based on the client's needs and desires. I then give my clients homework, which consists of general health guidelines and dietary guidelines I want them to follow to assist us on this project. By doing this, that means my time with my client is spent shaping, toning and sculpting as we start to change her/his body.

Clients don't need me to look over their shoulder as they do cardio on the treadmill. Nor do they need me just counting reps for them. Instead of counting reps, I watch every rep to check for proper form and proper breathing. I need to know the exact moment a client loses focus or when the form of the exercise suffers. It's all about safety and isolating the correct muscles.

While doing all of this, I also need to be aware that not every client can perform the same exercise. That means I need to have up my sleeve at all times multiple exercises that can target the muscular response I am looking for, in order to guarantee my client the results that she/he are paying for (and deserve to receive).

Now that you have a better understanding into what a personal trainer actually does for a client, I hope this will help you decide if you want to hire a trainer to assist you in achieving your fitness goals.