Are you reaching your health and fitness goals?

by Adam Toffan, M.Sc, NSCA-CSCS, CSEP-CEP
Assistant Fitness Testing & Assessment Coordinator
Recreation Services, University of Manitoba

Many of us have careers or are pursuing a career of some sort. We hope to be an expert in a given field so we can help people and provide a service that people can’t do themselves. Some people have a variety of learned skills. I am not a mechanic, however, I can change a flat tire.  Our bodies, like a car, are very complex machines. There is much more going on than anyone without directed study can understand fully.

Both of these things are so complex that you can’t even do it justice with a photo because there are layers upon layers of interconnected parts. Why do we think we can maintain our bodies without the help of a professional when we would never dare to maintain our own vehicles? One issue is people see car maintenance as an investment for long term function but they see spending on their health as an expense. However, if you do not maintain your body now, it will break down early just like your vehicle.

Personal trainers, strength and conditioning specialists and exercise physiologists are the mechanics of the body for general maintenance and other matters that don’t require a doctor. Exercise programs alone are more complicated than many think. Exercise selection, order, technique and intensity are some of the very important factors that determine if you are doing enough to get the desired results. Unfortunately, unlike many professions, there is some variability in qualifications. Each certification requires different levels of education and has its own set of core competencies that the trainer needs to master so there is some buyer beware and you should not assume that all certifications are equal. The gold standard for personal training certifications are those that require a university degree. Some examples of these are personal trainer or exercise physiologist certifications from the Canadian Society of Exercise Physiology (CSEP) or certified strength and conditioning specialist certification from the National Strength and Conditioning Association (NSCA).

A survey from Ask Your Target Market shows that 83% of people who use personal training are satisfied with their purchase. People who do make the decision to trust their bodies with a professional get improved results and are overwhelmingly satisfied with their experience. For more information from the survey you can click the following link to the results:

How much personal training someone needs depends largely on the person. Some people who have a good background in exercise can get by with a few sessions to start a new program and the occasional check in. Others who are not as comfortable with technique or progression strategies might need to see someone more often. Some people use a trainer every workout, some once per week, others once per month. If you want to invest in your health feel free to ask a fitness attendant or customer service representative about the various personal training packages and find the right one for you!