Personal trainers are responsible for guiding you through a safe and effective workout plan while providing you with encouragement and support. Each personal trainer has a different method and approach to accomplishing the goals of clients, but you can typically expect to engage in discussion and undergo various assessments at your first training session.
Most training sessions begin with the discussion of what your goals are, both long and short term. Your trainer will work with you to set reasonable goals. For example, a short-term goal might be to complete 60 minutes of cardiovascular exercise by the end of the week; a long-term goal might be to fit into pants two sizes smaller. Goal setting is not only an important way to measure success -- it also lets your trainer know just how strong your motivation is for adopting a healthier lifestyle.
In addition to recording your age, gender, height and weight, your trainer will most likely perform body composition measurements. Each trainer differs on how she collects body measurements. Taking circumference measurements of your waist, hips, arms and legs is a common, less obtrusive way to create a baseline. Another means of collecting similar data is through a skinfold measurement, in which calipers are used to assess the thickness of the layer of fat underneath your skin. Some trainers use more technological means to collect similar information such as bioelectric impedance analysis, which sends a very low electrical current through your body. The time it takes for the current to return to the source is correlated to the amount of body fat.
Your current level of fitness is important for your trainer to know. If your trainer were to start you at a level beyond your current abilities, your body would feel it the next day and chances are you wouldn’t want to continue. For safety purposes, you can expect to complete a short questionnaire known as the Physical Activity Readiness Questionnaire -- PAR-Q -- or a questionnaire of similar design. The PAR-Q helps your trainer determine if you are healthy enough to engage in exercise without the prior consent of your physician. Other assessment tools may include the distance that you can walk or run in 10 minutes, or the number of times you are correctly able to perform a given exercise.
To get the most out of your efforts in the gym, your trainer will most likely discuss your existing habits with you. This may include what your typical day is like, your current eating habits, hydration status and the amount of sleep you typically get. Each of these factors plays into your rate of success and your trainer can provide you with information to improve each of these facets.
Because a substantial portion of your first session is dedicated to determining your baseline information, you can expect your first meeting to be longer than subsequent sessions. Be patient during the process, though. It is important to collect this information so that you are able to compare the outcomes of later sessions and visualize your results.