Do Your Homework

I hope you are enjoying your summer. This is the time of year in which you appreciate having kept up your outside activity April through July. It really is tough to exercise outdoors if you have not acclimated to the heat and humidity. As always, practice proper hydration and try to exercise during the cooler times of the day; sunrise and sunset.

Do not let this summer heat keep you from exercising. Those of you who prefer to exercise indoors have many cooler activities available. One of these alternatives is to seek the assistance of a personal fitness trainer. If you choose to explore this option, please be diligent in your selection of a trainer.

Recently one of my healthy, hard-working clients shared a true story about a nephew of hers. Although this case does not directly involve me or anyone on my Body By Design team, it greatly disturbs me. I think it is important to share this case with you.

The parents of this recent, high-achieving, high school graduate sought out a personal trainer for their son. He had earned an appointment at the United States Naval Academy and was due to report to their boot camp in several weeks.

The parents chose a local personal trainer. I do not know if they used a referral, or what level of due diligence they took, basically, it was relayed to me that during the young man’s first workout with his personal trainer, he suffered an injury resulting in two herniated discs in his back. The information I received was that he was instructed to perform an overhead lift using a heavy “kettle ball.”

While I admit that I do not have all of the facts, there appears to be several items to question and evaluate.

1. Did the young man complete a proper warm-up?
2. Was there any indications (that should have been considered) that he was not ready for this exercise?
3. Was the weight of the “kettle ball” appropriate?
4. Was this lift an advanced exercise requiring above average strength?
5. Was the trainer experienced and qualified to direct this client?

Without knowing the specifics, we are not able to answer the first four questions. We would expect the personal trainer to have these answers. The fifth question should be answered before you even begin your first workout session. The message here is to do your homework when considering a personal trainer. Seek out experience and references. Just because someone calls themselves a personal trainer or a local fitness club has hired them to be a “personal trainer” that does not make them qualified for the position.

If you are looking to work with a personal fitness trainer, start by asking your friends and co-workers if they have had experience with a personal trainer. A great place to start is with a glowing referral from someone you know. Once you make contact with the trainer, there are questions you must ask ahead of time. Here are a few to get you started:

1. What certifications and qualifications do you have to hold this position?
2. How many years of experience do you have and where did you get that experience?
3. What age range are your clients?
4. What is your exercise philosophy?
5. Can I get a reference from one of your existing clients?
6. What can I expect at my first few workouts?
7. What is expected of me outside of the supervised workouts?
8. How quickly will I see results?

The trainer should be able to answer these questions to your satisfaction and give you confidence in his or her ability. They cannot answer the last three questions without also asking you questions about your health, current fitness level, personal fitness goals and commitment level. The answer to the last question should be reasonable and beware if it “sounds too good to be true” – it probably is.

I know I am being tough on personal trainers. However this is a profession that I am as passionate now as I was over 20 years ago when I opened Body By Design. I hope the young man in the story does not suffer from any long-term problems. There are plenty of qualified, experienced personal fitness trainers, but not all trainers are created equal. Are all doctors or attorneys equally qualified? Your health matters, select your personal trainer carefully. This is someone you will be trusting with your health.

Whether you prefer to exercise outdoors or indoors, like to run or walk; please take the time to include consistent exercise in your busy life. The benefits are amazing! Have a healthy day.

Davis Islands Community News   ●   July 2009
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