Personal trainers provide exercise instruction to clients of all types. Ages range from youth to baby boomers to geriatric clients. Trainers work in clinical settings, corporation wellness sites, commercial fitness centers or in-home, as well as by computer. Personal trainers conduct sessions for single clients, partners, groups of three to five clients, and large bootcamps. Your ability to deliver quality sessions depends on the accuracy with which you determine the needs and motivations of your clients and provide an exercise prescription and the appropriate equipment to meet those needs.
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Health Screening and Assessment
Potential personal training clients should be screened for risk factors and cleared for exercise. A health screening questionnaire or HSQ is an important tool for stratifying client risk factors to determine if a medical clearance is appropriate. Templates for HSQs can be found through American College of Sports Medicine, or ACSM. Personal trainers understand the importance of ensuring a client is cleared for exercise by a physician if a medical condition exists. Following clearance for exercise, assessments should be conducted to determine the client's current fitness level. Assessments for cardiovascular endurance, muscle strength and endurance, flexibility and body composition can be obtained from the ACSM's resource materials.
An important part of exercise programming is establishing specific goals for each client. Goals should be based upon the expressed wishes of the client, and on results from the health screening interview and assessments. You will have to determine whether your client is seeking health benefits, improved fitness or athletic performance. You will have to understand special considerations when working with older adults, children or other individuals who don't fit into the typical gym population. Once goals are established, many options are available for programming. Determining the frequency, intensity, duration and mode of exercise for each individual is what makes your training sessions personal.
Programming for Progression
Progression in fitness programming means your client is continually moving toward their goals. Using you assessment outcomes as a baseline for establishing a beginning program, you will then be responsible for providing adequate stimulus for your client's body to adapt. Cardiovascular exercise, resistance training and flexibility exercises should all be taken into consideration. If you are training an athlete, you will have to determine which types of exercise will improve their performance. You will also monitor your client's nutritional habits and help them make prudent decisions about their food choices and eating behaviors.
Communication is Key
As a trainer, you develop close relationships with your clients, and as with any relationship, good communication is important. You will need to have strong communication and teaching skills to acclimate clients with different learning styles to the program you design. Your clients rely on you to provide precise instructions on proper body mechanics and injury prevention. You play the important roles of motivator, cheerleader, counselor, enforcer and friend. Your trainer-client relationship is founded on trust and integrity.
A trainer is responsible for safety, injury prevention and emergency care administration. Professionally certified trainers are required to demonstrate competence through ongoing education to remain up to date on research topics. You will observe a wide continuum of professional boundary policies including your scope of practice in nutrition and ethical treatment of all individuals in not only exercise programming but in business administration, billing, cancellation policies and conflict resolution.