Planning to get fit this summer? Well, time's running out and unless you're highly disciplined and have plenty of time on your hands it's not going to happen. Your best option may be to look into utilising the services of a personal trainer.
Getting results from exercise and diet requires effort, discipline, patience, knowledge and time. These are limited commodities in a society that is subject to the pressures of work, family and other commitments.
Nobody can do the exercise or dieting for you, but personal trainers can offer you direction and support in building a healthier lifestyle.
The nature of personal training is becoming highly specialised, according to a personal trainer of ten years, Richard Meikle. "Training elite athletes is a whole lot different to training a mother of four with asthma".
Finding a trainer to suit your specific needs may be made easier by checking whether they possess a number of important qualities that are essential to a good trainer.
A personal trainer has knowledge of the bodies' anatomy, the body systems, the mechanics of exercise and the physiological response of the many systems of the body to various exercises, medications and diets.
They should also know the ins and outs of program design and be able to provide alternative exercises and diets, as well as the ability to teach the safest and most effective way of conducting these exercises.
Personal trainers should assess the bodies' response to these programs, for example, they may use feedback from heart rate monitors as well as questioning how you feel and discovering your perceived rate of exertion.
Jason Weber, an ex-personal trainer who is now strength and conditioning co-ordinator for elite sportsman in the NSW Waratahs rugby union squad, says, "for the safety of their clients, personal trainers must exhibit proficiency in the general health related sciences, .experience alone is not enough".
Check the Curriculum Vitae of a prospective personal trainer for a degree in Applied Science: either Health or Exercise science, or an Education degree in Human Movement or Physical Education. A Fitness Leaders Certificate would be the bare minimum requirement. Whilst training in the water it is advisable that the trainer also has a certificate of resuscitation and First Aid or a Bronze Medallion.
"Experience breeds knowledge," says Miekle. "Experience is essential in knowing how hard to push a client because people will drop out if they are pushed too hard".
Experience also breeds knowledge of safe practice. It is necessary for the personal trainer to be able to implement the safest and most effective exercises and techniques to suit different people and their different needs.
Relating to the client
"The best personal trainer is one that encourages you to help yourself," Miekle says.
To make the exercise less laborious find a trainer that you can relate to and one that offers you motivation and support through their general enthusiasm, professional behaviour and positive encouragement.
Communication is a two way street. Before designing a specific program the trainer must understand your exact goals, any pre-existing conditions that may affect your exercise involvement (such as previous injury), your medical condition and time availabilities. They must be flexible and understanding to suit your requirements.
Personal trainers have been stereotyped as offering one-on-one sessions for the rich and famous. However middle income earners can now afford this service.
There is a lot of competition and therefore a range of prices. Generally sessions range between $20 and $100. Some trainers conduct group sessions so the cost may be shared, however they still offer specialised programs. Many personal trainers also offer packages including exercise programs, diet instructions and health assessments. It is advisable to seek quotes from a range of prospective trainers.
Weber offers the tip that, "paying in advance is better for both parties. Whilst it offers motivation to conduct the sessions for the client, the trainer also has a guaranteed income". Furthermore offering to pay advance may achieve a small discount for the client.
What you should avoid
Safety comes first when choosing a personal trainer according to Weber.
"Out of a group of possibly thirty trainers within a reputable gym there are only a few I would advise to avoid.this would be based primarily on unsafe practices. For example, poor techniques in the gym or not knowing what medications such as beta blockers do for those with heart conditions and the requirements of diabetics."
Looks may be deceiving, a fit looking person doesn't equate to a good personal trainer. Make sure you check their Curriculum Vitae, follow referrals and remember, a good trainer possesses a blend of knowledge and experience and knows how to relate to you, the client.
Written by Luke Inman who is a member of the NSW Waratahs rugby union squad and has a degree in Sports Science.