8 Steps to Choosing the Right Fitness Professional

Senior Man Stretching After Run Sun

How often do you check the credentials of health/medical professionals even Personal Trainers? Unlike physical therapy, medicine and chiropractic where there are colleges dedicated to protecting the public, Personal Training and Kinesiology are largely self-regulated professions where it is buyer beware. With Google and the internet it only takes a few minutes to read up on who’s hands you are choosing to place your health and wellbeing in. As Personal Training becomes more popular, Personal Trainers may say they have post-rehab experience or xyz certification, but really they don’t or have let their credential(s) lapse.  

Do you know when to choose a Kinesiologist instead of a Personal Trainer?​

The lack of background checking occurred to me again to me as I was having a conversation with someone who was going through rehabilitation and mentioned that their Kinesiologist/Personal Trainer had the same type of training as I did. This industry is fairly small in Metro Vancouver and I would know if this person was a Certified Fascial Stretch Therapist (there are only few of them in BC). I knew this person had not taken the FST® training from Ann and Chris. After double checking on the Stretch to Win Fascial Stretch Therapist Locator, I found out I was correct. To me integrity, truth and transparency are very important. This person may have done some other type of training, perhaps with Kit Laughlin.

8 Ways to Check Your Personal Trainer's Credentials

  1. Ask to see their certificate, ensure that it is up-to-date and valid past the date of your sessions/treatment. With the BCAK, Practicing Kinesiologist are required to renew with a minimum of 20 hours professional development and $2,000,000 of liability insurance.
  2. Check the certifying or licensing bodies' websites for their names – registered/licensed professionals will be listed with any disciplinary action against them.
  3. Google their name and clinic/gym name – see what you can come up with. Search in as many social media places as you can think of.
  4. Ask for references. Have they worked with clients similar to you who've had the same challenges or goals?
  5. If the certifying organization does not have a searchable list, just email them and ask if their certification is up-to-date.
  6. Ask what recent continuing education courses they have taken related to your current condition, health status and needs. This ensures that they are staying current with pest practices.
  7. When you looking for a Kinesiologist/Personal Trainer it is ok to complete multiple consultations. It is about your health and well being.
  8. When you looking for a Kinesiologist/Personal Trainer it is ok to complete multiple consultations. It is about your health and well being.

Celebrity Fitness "Gurus" Are Not Always The Right Choice

Teaching appropriate exercises with correct technique and safe properly designed progressions is also important. Jillian Micheals, who is great at motivating, really listening and connecting emotionally with her clients, has garnered a lot of criticism over the last several months, especially since her Kettlebell DVD came out.

Many of my fellow strength and conditioning, fitness, Kettlebell and rehabilitation professionals have been up in arms about how she is has become a celebrity trainer, but with credentials that are supposedly out of date or non-existent. In the DVD she is teaching exercises incorrectly that are potentially hazardous to individuals' backs when done incorrectly.

She seems to be getting on the Kettlebell trend, because it is popular. What we have a problem is not with her celebrity it is with people teaching others unsafe lifting and exercise techniques which could do them harm. Seek someone who has the RKC designation if you want to learn safely and properly. When I see this happen it makes me cringe. Your trainer should be there to correct your technique and if that is still too difficult make it simpler until you are able to progress to the next level.

Several years ago I had a friend in the United States who went to see a Personal Trainer, she was obese and needed to lose weight to change her health (obesity is a medical condition). She was pushed much too hard, too soon and went into cardiac distress. She was debilitated and is now in constant pain. Several years ago a Personal Trainer in New York was pushing a weight loss supplement, the client died and the family successfully sued.

Even IDEA (International Dance and Exercise Association) is on a big push to bring together a central website where the public can check the credentials and experience of the exercise professional they are choosing at IDEA Fitness Connect. The list comes from highly regarded certifications.

Alfred Ball

CEO | Practicing Kinesiologist | Certified Fascial Stretch Therapist. He founded Lifemoves in 2007. He has been a Practicing Kinesiologist and Certified Strength and Conditioning Coach with the NSCA for over 15 years. When he isn't helping people regain their strength and confidence to move with ease he is hanging out with his wife and young son, writing, or training for his next endurance running race. His big audacious goal is to qualify for the Boston Marathon.