Tips For Choosing a Health Club & Personal Trainer

Keep the following factors in mind when choosing a health club or personal trainer, advises Scott Danberg, MS, Director of Exercise at the Pritikin Longevity Center & Spa.

When choosing a health club, consider:

Accessibility

Locate a health club in close proximity to where you live and work. If the club is difficult to get to, chances are you won’t get to it. Choose a health club close to where you live or work.

Availability of Equipment

See if there are time limits on cardiorespiratory equipment. Look for a variety of equipment, such as bicycles, rowing machines, stair climbers, elliptical trainers, treadmills, and a swimming pool. Finally, tour the facility at the time you will be going in order to make sure it’s not too crowded. You want to be able to spend your time working out, not waiting for equipment. Choose a health club that has equipment available during the time period you want to work out.

Atmosphere

Different clubs cater to different populations. Some are geared to families; others cater to the “singles” crowd. Some clubs offer social activities such as a movie night. Decide which group of members you’d feel most comfortable with. Choose a health club that fits your personality.

Price Range

Most clubs have an initiation fee and yearly contract. Often, couple and family rates are available. They can be great deals if everyone in the family actually uses the club.

Cleanliness

Inspect both the locker room and workout area to see if they are kept clean. Also, check out the machines to see if they are free of dust and grime. Cleanliness should always be an important factor when choosing a health club.

Extras

Interested in extras like towel service, childcare facilities, and massages? Make a “wish list” before you arrive for your tour. That way, you’re more likely to remember to ask for all the things that are important to you.

When choosing a personal trainer, consider:

Educational Background

A degree or certification in an exercise related science is important. Be leery of trainers who only have weekend credentials or anecdotal experience (“I was the personal trainer for Donald Trump…”). Ideally, you want to choose a personal trainer with a minimum four-year college degree in fields such as kinesiology, athletic training, exercise physiology, or physical education.

Additionally, it’s helpful if the personal trainer has advanced training, such as a certificate with the American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM). This type of educational background helps ensure that you’ll avoid injury – and that you’ll get an exercise prescription that effectively addresses your unique personal needs.

Experience

How long has the trainer been working? Ask for references from other clients. Choose a personal trainer with solid experience from satisfied clients.

Expertise

Does the personal trainer specialize in an area that you are interested in, such as weights or aerobics? Choose a personal trainer with expertise in an area that fits your health goals.

Cost Per Session

This will vary across the country and from health club to health club. Expect to pay $50 to $120 per hour.

Congeniality

Is your personal trainer’s personality a good “match” with yours? Put simply, do you feel comfortable with him or her? Do you enjoy his or her company? These are important factors when choosing a personal trainer. The trainer you choose can add encouragement and motivation to your exercise sessions. (Choose the wrong personal trainer and you may end up getting discouraged!) Always remember: You should look forward to your sessions with your trainer and visits to your health club, as you work closer and closer towards your health goals.

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