Get the Most from Your Personal Trainer

Follow these tips to choose the right personal trainer and get the most out of your sessions.

By Reader's Digest Editors

Been slavishly going to the gym but not satisfied with your results? Perhaps you’ve been considering hiring a personal trainer to keep you on track and motivated.

When working with a personal trainer, guidance, teamwork, and a great deal of communication will be crucial to meeting your goals.  Here are some steps you can take to reap the most benefits from your trainer:

Choose the right trainer for you
A trainer should be certified by a credible organization, such as the National Academy of Sports Medicine (NASM), the American Council on Exercise (ACE), or the Aerobic and Fitness Association of America (AFAA). Ask about a prospective trainer’s advanced education or specialties, and get references. The facility where you’ll work out with the trainer should be convenient to you and should provide liability insurance. (If the trainer is working as an independent contractor, he should have liability insurance.) Discuss the fitness program he has in mind for you and decide if it will be a good fit. Most important, trust your instincts. If the chemistry is right between you and the trainer, you’ll know it!

Outline your biggest goals
Bring a list of short-term and long-term goals to your first personal-training session. Do you want to lose 5 pounds? Have a flatter stomach? Run a 10K in a certain amount of time? Let your trainer know which goals are your biggest priorities, and work together to set reasonable deadlines by which you’d like to meet them.

Share your history
If you’ve tried to get in shape before, tell your trainer what worked for you and what didn’t. Be honest about your pitfalls, such as a tendency to skip workouts after a stressful day or get bored after doing the same exercises for a few weeks.

Reveal health problems
Your trainer should know about medications you take that can affect heart rate or blood pressure, chronic conditions such as heart disease, recent surgeries, sleep patterns, and your general stress level.

Mention what motivates you
Do you thrive on gentle encouragement, or do you need a dose of in-your-face barking? Are you motivated by weigh-ins, or do they just depress you?

Prepare for each workout
Get plenty of sleep the night before your personal-training session. Eat a healthy breakfast that morning. Get to the gym early and complete your warm-up 15 minutes before you meet your trainer.

Stay hydrated
You don’t want to waste time and money by waiting in line at the water fountain between sets. Bring your own bottle of water and keep it with you during your training session.

Give feedback
Tell your trainer if you hated or loved a certain workout. She may be able to work in more of the exercises you like.

Stretch on your own
Many trainers use the last 10 minutes of a session to stretch their clients. But unless you have chronically tight muscles, tell your trainer that you’d like to work out until the end of the hour and stretch on your own afterwards. That way you won’t waste valuable exercise time.

Be honest
Did you eat too many sweets this week? Have you been skipping your morning walks? Admit it. Your trainer needs to know about these slipups in order to help you recover from them properly.

Sources: Denverpost.com, ehow.com, AARP

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