Know your Personal Trainers and Yoga Instructors

Trusting your health and wellbeing in the hands of professionals seems like a generally good idea. We wouldn’t, even for a moment, consider seeing doctors, dentists or physiotherapists who did not study for their profession and meet the standards for certification in their field of practice. We take for granted that these health professionals know what they are doing, have insurance and practice according to the guidelines established for our health and safety.

Taking this one step further, it is reasonable to conclude that any person we entrust our health and safety with should be equipped with the knowledge needed to do just that, keep us safe. But, when was the last time you checked if your personal trainer or yoga instructor had certifications, that their certifications were up-to-date or if they hold insurance? Chances are, we might assume this is the case or haven’t even considered that our fitness instructors may not have adequate knowledge to assist with our fitness goals. Being in great shape and practicing many years in their area of expertise are great qualities, but what else goes into being a certified personal trainer or yoga instructor?

Here are some additional things your fitness instructor needs to know and learn in formal, certified training programs:

  • Anatomy and the physics of movement
  • Beginner, intermediate and advanced exercises and postures
  • Planning and sequencing to increase difficulty over time
  • Common medical conditions and how to adapt fitness and training programs to personalize them according to your specific health needs
  • History and philosophy of a particular fitness discipline
  • How to plan individualized and group fitness programs
  • Communicating with clients
  • How to adhere to professional standards, such as anti-harassment
  • Obtaining experience and contact hour requirements for certification
  • Adherence to continuing education requirements to maintain certification
  • CPR and First Aid training (typically an additional requirement for certification)

As you can see, it takes more than basic knowledge to be a professional personal trainer or yoga instructor. Consider asking some questions before choosing the right person to work with on your fitness journey, such as:

What certification(s) do you have and are they current?
There should be no hesitation in providing this information, including links to appropriate websites such as NCCPT or Yoga Alliance

Who is the certifying organization?
Once you get this information, do your research. Make sure the organization is a reputable certifying body such as the National Council for Certified Personal Trainers. Certifying organizations for North America, such as the NCCPT, determine entry-level competence for Personal Trainers and fitness professionals to provide safe and effective personal training programs to the public. Other organizations, such as Yoga Alliance, are international in scope.

Do you have liability insurance?
Hopefully you never need to worry about actually making an insurance claim, but this is important information to know when you trust your health and wellness to a professional. Make sure you are protected and covered for any injuries that are a direct result of instruction given by a personal trainer or yoga instructor.

How many years of personal and professional experience do you have?
The answers to this will vary and do not, alone, provide full information on someone’s professional competence, but can help you make a decision that is right for you and your needs in conjunction with the information above

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