There are many different terms, and catch phrases in the fitness industry designed to describe and sell various approaches and services. One of these terms is personal training. Personal training is not a protected term like the term dietitian (state laws dictate who can, and can not call themselves a dietitian). However, when someone is a certified personal trainer or a certified fitness trainer they are a certified professional that provide individualized fitness programs to individual clients.
However, since there are no laws to dictate who can, and can not call themselves a personal trainer you may have signed up for "personal training" at a gym thinking you were in-fact getting personal training just to find yourself in a small or even large fitness class. Perhaps the gym you signed up had the sign that read "Free Personal Training", and you come to discover what they mean by personal training is having a faculty member walk you through each piece of equipment giving you some general recommendations to follow. While there can be some benefit to these approaches, they are NOT personal training, and it may not be personal or individualized enough.
Additionally, not all trainers and approaches are created equal. You may have seen a trainer where he/she assessed your goals, and wrote a program specific to you, tweaking the program based on your feedback or perhaps the trainer (or training web site) just asked you a few questions and gave you a pre-made program based on general goals such as "weight loss", "muscle gain" etc. So clearly the term personal trainer or personal training may not accurately describe the service you're getting. So, if you're interested in a personal training service a few questions you may want to ask before you commit are:
A good trainer should take the following elements into consideration and understand how to work them into your routine/approach to truly individualize the most effective and workable program possible. These include:
2. Personal health and family health history
3. Assessment of any cumulative trauma, reoccurring inflammation, or past injuries
4. Assess reoccurring aches, and pains (this requires an understanding of the kinetic chain, postural deviations, and muscular imbalances)
5. Personal preferences
7. Current fitness level, and past fitness levels (former athlete, former runner/exerciser/never exercised etc)
8. Other areas of health and their impact on your fitness
9. Current stage in the 5 stage of change
Cumulative Trauma Disorder (CTD)- Is sometimes referred to Repetitive Strain Injury (RSI), or Overuse Injury. Common among these injuries are tendinitis, carpel tunnel, and back injuries. You can think of cumulative trauma like the expression says “that was the straw that broke the camel’s back”. In that these injuries may be pinpointed to a single action i.e. person picking up a box, and back gives out. Interestingly that box may not be any heavier than the boxes the individual had continued to pick up, so what changed? In reality the injury had been slowing occurring with micro-traumas from the continued use or overuse of the back until one day the back could withstand no more, and failed. Signs such as lower back pain (LBP), may be present indicating trauma, and recognizing these signs may help the individual to 1. Change what they are doing in order to reduce the stress (i.e. change movements, use wraps, or back braces) and 2. Seek an exercise professional to safely strengthen the body, and even out muscular imbalances so the back can withstand the stress better (Sevier, Wilson, & Helfst, 1999) .
Five Stage of Change- This is derived from the Transtheoretical Model for Behavior Change (established by Dr. James Prochaska). This behavior change model was established from much research. Such research shows that self-change is a staged process. At the beginning we are not even thinking about change (pre-contemplation stage), then one day we begin to think of change and its implications (contemplation stage of change), then we start coming up with ideas to create change, and preparing for it, even testing out ways to do it before we actually start (preparation stage of change), then we take action on the preparations we made (action stage of change), lastly as we continue to take action we may have set backs or ruts, and we struggle, but finally we firmly have the change accomplished (maintenance stage of change) (Moore & Moran, 2010).
Moore, M., & Tschannen-Moran, B. (2010). Coaching: Psychology manual. Baltimore, MD: Wellcoaches.
Sevier, T.L., Wilson, J.K., & Helfst, B. (1999). The industrial athlete?. IOS Press, 15, 203-207.