In 2008, I left my job in Corporate America to become a personal trainer. I had my degree in Communications and was working for a good company but was finding very little fulfillment in what I was doing. My husband brought up that I often talked about going to the gym as being the best part of my day so with his encouragement, I took the plunge to switch careers.
There are many online programs which can certify you as a trainer, but simply memorizing answers to questions and taking an online test did not fill me with confidence that I would be qualified to actually train someone. So, I enrolled in a four-month, full-time program at the Academy of Personal Training in NYC. We learned everything from kinesiology to general nutrition and of course all about personal training. We spent half the day in the class room and the other half in the gym working with a partner on what would ultimately be part of our final grade, how we train.
So, all this being said, how do you find a personal trainer? Any commercial gym can hook you up with one but it can be extremely expensive. Although you can assure they will be properly qualified and insured, you pay a monthly membership fee on top of an hourly rate for a trainer.
If you are looking to hire a trainer outside of a gym you want to make sure of a couple of things:
Qualifications: As I mentioned above, I went through a pretty intense training program because it's what I felt I needed to be confident enough to train. But you can also look for things like a degree in a related field or highly recognized accreditations such as NSCA (National Strength and Conditioning Association), ACE (American Council on Exercise) and NASM (National Academy of Sports Medicine) to name a few.
Insurance: Any trainer working on their own should have personal liability insurance. If you should for any unfortunate reason become injured during a session, you want to make sure you are covered.
Pricing: If you are working with someone outside of a gym environment, they are getting 100% of the rate charged, unless of course they are renting space for your sessions. You want to research what the going rate is in the area and consider how much experience the trainer has to make sure you are paying a decent rate.
Compatibility: It's best to meet with a trainer before any scheduled sessions to make sure you have a good fit with personality and training style. Some trainers are very drill sergeant esq, others as myself use a much more subtle motivational style. You have to know what type of personality you will mesh with best to get the best results and enjoy your sessions.
The more research you do up front, the happier you will be with the person you choose to kick your butt into shape!