A personal trainer is usually a trained and certified professional who helps people meet fitness and exercise goals. Some trainers work with amateur or professional athletes who want to enhance their performance and may be called athletic trainers. More commonly, a personal trainer tends to work with individuals or small groups to help people achieve greater levels of fitness.
A personal trainer normally begins work by evaluating the health history of each trainee. He or she should encourage people to discuss any exercise program with a physician prior to starting training sessions. Any red flags that come up during a health history, like muscular or skeletal structure injuries or serious medical conditions should be referred to a physician before training starts. The trainer may visit with a trainee’s doctor prior to designing an exercise regimen, or ask trainees to obtain medical clearance before beginning an exercise program.
In addition to understanding the health history of a client, the trainer must get some sense of the patient’s exercise goals, which can be specific or general. A person may simply want motivation and a designed exercise plan to lose weight and get back in shape, or he or she may have a couple of “problem areas” upon which he/she wants specific focus.
Sometimes personal trainers only meet with clients for one or two sessions to clarify goals and design an exercise program. This is common in health clubs, where training services may be offered with membership or available for an additional fee. Other trainers work intensively with people for several months, and attend all exercise sessions. They may be there to not only help create an exercise regiment specific to the client’s needs, but also to provide motivation. A personal trainer might only work with clients for some exercise sessions, and occasionally help to modify exercises once a client has met initial goals. The field is highly individualized in this respect, and trainers may have long term, short term or intermittent relationships with clients.
A trainer may have additional experience in nutrition and dieting, though this is not true of all trainers. In some cases the trainer works with nutritionists or dietitians to help design ideal diets for clients with weight loss goals. Some trainers partner with a nutritionist so they can offer both diet advice and exercise training to clients.
Lastly, a trainer may help evaluate people who are pursuing a recommended exercise regimen. They may check in to see how effective current training methods are. Trainers might make occasional changes to exercise plans to help clients continue to pursue their goals, and to keep people from getting bored by doing the same exercises repeatedly.
Work environments of trainers vary. Some trainers work independently, and others are associated with specific gyms or health clubs. The more expensive trainers tend to work independently, and may charge anywhere from $40-200 US Dollars (USD) per session. While people are used to associating personal trainers with high expenses, only a few trainers who might work with celebrities charge exceptionally high prices—in the ballpark of several thousand USD for single sessions or for long-term training.