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SPA BABY SECRETS   .   .   .

For the New Year

Find and Hire a Trainer 

Sheila Cluff

Founder of The Oaks at Ojai

Regardless of the resolutions you made at the beginning of the year, right now might be a grand time to consider an option that was once open only to the rich and famous. You might want to hire a fitness trainer and super charge your workout.
Before you open the telephone book or call a friend of a friend who once knew someone who had a trainer, read this posting. There are 10 key things to keep in mind should you want to check out your options well before you say, “You’re hired.”
What are your fitness goals? What are your health goals? How often do you now work out? How much weight do you want to lose? When can you work out? Do you like working out alone or are you most comfortable with a small group?
There are no right or wrong answers to these questions, but you’ll want to consider them as you talk with fitness trainers.
What do you want to achieve with a fitness trainer that you cannot do on your own? This is a valid question. Do you need accountability? Do you need an exercise buddy? Do you want someone to tell you how to build up or streamline your body? Are you more interested in weight loss than muscle building?
What is your budget? While there are trainers for almost every budget, paying more doesn’t necessarily mean you’re going to get more. You’ll want to ask the trainer how much he or she charges and how payment is to be made. If you’re hiring the trainer through the fitness center where you have a membership, are the trainer’s services part of the cost of the membership or is this an additional charge?
What are the skills of the trainer? Is he or she known for helping people become more flexible or a better racket ball player? What about certification? Where did the trainer train?
Have you checked references or talked with a few people who have been long-standing fitness clients? Have a list of questions ready when you speak with the references such as where were they, fitness wise, when they began with the trainer? How long did it take them to accomplish their fitness goals? Were the goals realistic? What was the biggest concern working with the trainer?
What is the trainers “fitness philosophy”? Does he or she believe in a specific type of program, diet pills, expensive equipment? What about his or her “customer service skills”? Does the trainer sound more like an army drill sergeant than a fitness expert? What about giving each of his or her clients some health advice or fitness material to read or a long-term program so that eventually the client can work out on his or her own? Is the information sound? Can the information be verified by looking at other reliable materials?
What about your comfort level with this person? As you interview fitness trainers, you may want to rate each for how you’d feel having this person motivate you week in and week out. Have you “clicked” with the trainer’s personality and customer service style?
What does the trainer look like? Yes, Grandmother told us not to judge a book by the cover, but if the trainer is a dedicated long-distance runner with the sleek, trim frame of that type and you want to build up your biceps, you might not be able to communicate well.
Can you communicate well? If you explain that you want to build endurance and trim down a few pounds, does the trainer understand or pop out a stringent very low cal diet?
Does the trainer want you or encourage his or her clients to buy vitamins, fitness equipment or clothing items directly? Will you feel obligated to do so if you want to train with this person?
There are no right or wrong answers to any of these questions. However before signing a contract or obligating yourself with any trainer, make sure that you’re comfortable, feel confident and able to communicate well. Having a personal trainer can make all the difference in the world and with a good one you really can stay fit for life.

Sheila Cluff, fitness expert, spa guru and founder of The Oaks at Ojai, is the author of Living Your Dream, Take 5: How You Can Benefit from Just Five Minutes of Daily Exercise and The Ultimate Recipe for Fitness by Sheila and Eleanor Brown.  You can also find Sheila on

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