What’s the Best Type of Fitness Professional to Help You Get Fit This Year?

By Beth Shepard, M.S., ACE-PT, ACSM-RCEP, Wellcoaches Certified Wellness Coach

It’s a new year — are you ready to take your fitness to the next level? Maybe you’d like to achieve a new personal record in your next 10K, adopt a more active lifestyle to reduce health risks and boost energy, or perhaps you want to lose 40 pounds and keep it off.

Whatever your goal, working with a certified fitness professional is the best way to make sure your approach to health and fitness is both safe and effective. American Council on Exercise certifies a variety of fitness professionals, including personal trainers, group fitness instructors, health coaches, and advanced health and fitness specialists. Wondering which type of certified pro is best suited to your fitness needs, interests and goals?

ACE-certified Personal Trainers are the go-to pros for personalized exercise programs. Your trainer will assess your current fitness level, work with you to set realistic goals, and design an individualized exercise program to get you where you want to be. Some people prefer the focused attention of one-on-one sessions while others enjoy the added social support that comes with small-group training. Consider working with a personal trainer if you:

  • Are just getting started — individual instruction is especially helpful for fitness newbies
  • Are interested in exercise for weight loss
  • Would like a personalized exercise plan to make the best use of your time, efforts and abilities
  • Want to learn how to exercise the right way — so you can do it on your own
  • Currently exercise but have a specific speed, endurance, or strength goal in mind
  • Want to improve your athletic performance

ACE-certified Personal Trainers are qualified to work with people who are apparently healthy. If you have any medical conditions, look for a trainer with advanced knowledge, experience and a certification in working with special populations. Talking with an ACE-certified Advanced Health and Fitness Specialist is a good place to start.

ACE-certified Group Fitness Instructors lead exercise classes of all types — sports conditioning, aqua fitness, cycling, step, dance-based classes, strength-and-stretching and much more. In addition to keeping you inspired with appealing music and motivating words, they’ll teach you correct form and technique, helping you avoid injuries. Many people enjoy group fitness classes for fun, variety, and the friendships they develop. Look for a certified group fitness instructor if you want to:

  • Receive instruction on fitness basics in a group setting
  • Move it and groove it with a roomful of fun, fitness-minded people
  • Learn a variety of new exercise routines
  • Let someone else design your workout
  • Cross-train by swapping out one of your weekly walks or runs for a group class
  • Enjoy a low-stress, high-energy way to start — or end — the day

ACE-certified Health Coaches are personal trainers, registered dietitians, nurses, human resources specialists and other professionals with additional training in behavior modification concepts and techniques. They help people change habits that interfere with their quality of life or get in the way of them reaching wellness goals.

If you’ve tried to change on your own but keep going back to the same old routines, a health coach can help. You’ll get a clear picture of the factors that influence your behavior and learn how to set yourself up for long-term success. You’ll also benefit from the increased accountability and motivation that comes with the coaching relationship. Consider enlisting the help of a health coach if you want to:

  • Lose weight and keep it off
  • Learn better ways of coping with stress
  • Add exercise to a busy schedule
  • Become more confident about healthy living
  • Enhance nutrition for optimal health and well-being
  • Improve lifestyle habits to better manage blood pressure or cholesterol
  • Stop procrastinating and take specific steps toward a healthier lifestyle

With the help of the right professional, you can make 2013 your healthiest year ever. Get started today by finding an ACE-certified fitness pro near you!

Beth Shepard, M.S., ACE-PT, ACSM-RCEP, Wellcoaches Certified Wellness Coach, is a clinical exercise physiologist, health promotion consultant, and educator with more than 20 years of experience in hospital-based exercise and educational programming, wellness coaching and population health management. She is certified by ACE, ACSM, and Wellcoaches Corporation, a volunteer course reviewer for Desert Southwest Fitness, and works with corporate and individual clients to deliver sustainable health behavior change.

Source: Everyday health

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