Some fitness trainers or coaches are excellent, some are ‘okay’ and some are a waste of time and money. How do you choose the best one for you? Here are a few tips of what to look for in the kinds of trainers and coaches available, their credentials and experience – and how to avoid the frauds and incompetents.
Fitness coaches help athletes and others create an exercise-training plan based on the needs of an individual’s sport or other athletic/ fitness goals, and supervise their training to ensure that the goals are met. A coach or trainer may utilize exercise, diet and psychological motivation and other methods to get and keep you on track for meeting your personal fitness goals.
Fitness coaches and trainers work in a variety of settings: high schools, colleges, professional sports teams and individual athletes, as well as with members of gyms and health clubs. Some work with physical and occupational therapists in hospitals, clinics and rehabilitation centers, where they help patients recover from injuries or illnesses. Other coaches and trainers work with private clients in their homes or other venues.
Costs can vary by area as well as the specific training, services and experience offered by a coach. Usually urban areas charge more. If you are joining a health club or gym, the services of a trainer are often included in your membership fees.
Otherwise, you can usually expect to spend around $50 per hour on average, according to the National Strength and Conditioning Association (NSCA). Some private coaches and trainers charge hourly; others have flat fees depending on the services offered.
Many coaches and trainers now have degrees in sports medicine or fitness instruction; these should be from accredited colleges and universities. A typical curriculum can include courses in physiology, anatomy, sports medicine, psychology, and other aspects of exercise science.
Membership in a professional organization, such as the American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM), National Strength and Conditioning Association (NSCA), and the American Council on Exercise (ACE) shows professionalism and a high level of commitment to the field. Among some of the specialized areas offered by the ACSM are: Certified Personal Trainer, Certified Group Fitness Instructor, as well as ACSM/ACS Certified Cancer Exercise Trainer and ACSM/NPAS Physical Activity in Public Health Specialist.