This time of year is when most people are starting exercise for the first time at a gym. For some, they are just getting back into the healthy habits. For many, the idea of a personal trainer can by a consideration.

As a personal trainer for almost 20 year now, I have found there are a lot of misconceptions about personal trainers. I see a lot of confusion about what they are supposed to be for and/or what makes a personal trainer exactly.

The first thing to consider is their credentials. In this state you must have a license to cut hair, do manicures and work on an “auto” body. There are not ANY requirements for an individual to have certain requirements to be a trainer and work on the human body.

At my facility, I require my full-time trainers to have College Educations in Exercise Science/Kinesiology and practical-based Certifications that involve hands-on testing. We have a great relationship with UCO’s Kinesiology department they periodically send us students to do their required internships under our guidance. Many large chain gyms take advantage of the lack of laws to hire “internet trained” trainers and that keeps their pay scale down.

These individuals might or might not know much but they certainly can’t have the level of knowledge for the human body they should with a formal education. You must know this if you want to take the only body you have and trust your fitness journey with someone. Experience does matter and there can be good trainers out there that have a lot of real-world training but education should be a factor of quality when you shop around.

I suggest contacting a trainer to sit down and have a meeting on what you want to accomplish. Find out what they are like and their experience. A professional personal trainer’s job is not necessarily just to train a client hard but to WATCH over you and keep you safe. Our job is to make sure that you utilize proper form and function on the exercises, do the appropriate weights, repetitions and not OVER do it.

Everyone has individual needs and a trainer should not train everyone the same. A professional trainer will shift the gears of intensity as they need to be shifted and pull you back when you need to be pulled back. Establish goals you want to set from short term, intermediate and long term for the year and beyond.

Mental toughness is probably the most important aspect a professional trainer can teach you. If you do not learn that you can do more than you think you can, then you probably will talk yourself out of going to the gym more often then not. There are many excuses people can come up with and do. Ultimately, that time you think you did or do not have will open up if you make a conscious decision to make it some of the most important time that you must have to spend on yourself. You will be a better you and those around you will notice the difference. This “new you” can be infectious to others. Be proud that you have chosen to be different than the majority of the U.S. population. Be proud you are setting a new standard for yourself as well.

I have had always said that I am terrible at counting my clients repetitions when they workout. My reason is that I feel that watching their form and function and talking them through those points is more important that how many reps they are doing. I can read their faces and bodies and see whether that weight is appropriate for that amount of reps. The reps are just arbitrary goals and a generalization. My job is not to be a “rep counter” but my job is to be a problem solver. What programs, angles, cardio modes and intensities does my client need to do? What type of a pep talk does he or she need today? Is this a T.L.C. talk or is this a “just suck it up and do it” talk?

Where are they going wrong or right on their nutrition habits? Everyone is different and sometimes our jobs can be as much psychological as they are physiological.

Investing in a trainer is a smart thing to do. Do not fall into the trap of burning out too quickly this year because you tried to figure it out on your own or you attempted a program that was way beyond your fitness level at first. At minimum, hire a trainer to design a program for you every few weeks so that you stay on track with your changing body and needs. In my opinion, if they start yelling out you the first day, then they are probably not your person. Make 2017 the year you did it right and stayed on track.

Published in Edmond Life & Leisure – 1/26/17