Saturday, August 20, 2005

I AM NOT A PERSONAL TRAINER

I'm still recovering from the five-day loss of power at home. You would think we had a hurricane.

I've been wanted to say this for years: I am not a personal trainer. Please do not refer to me as such. I hold no "personal trainer" credentials. I don't count reps or hand people dumbbells. I am a physical therapist, licensed in Missouri and Illinois. I hold an undergraduate degree from the University of Chicago and graduate degrees from the University of Illinois at Chicago and Washington University. I've acquired the NSCA CSCS (certified strength and conditioning specialist) credential and the USA Weightlifting Club Coach certification, but those are nothing compared to the time and effort spent to get my degrees and licenses. I can rehab your newly-scoped knee and then teach you how to squat properly or do a power jerk.

Now, I have many friends who are personal trainers. Some are very good at what they do and know their scope of practice. The public should realize that most personal trainers have no formal training. Anyone with a CPR certification and a credit card can pass a very easy multiple choice test and get a "personal trainer" certification. There are some organizations that are better than others; but the bottom line is that these organizations (some for-profit and others not-for-profit) are out to make money. Once these organizations certify someone, they have no jurisdiction over or responsibility for them. If the personal trainer injures a client, there is no one with any power to keep that person from providing services as a personal trainer. I, on the other hand, am regulated by the states of Missouri and Illinois and can lose my license if I act in a negligent or unethical manner.

It is my opinion that many people hire a personal trainer without really knowing that individual's qualifications. They simply hire that person because of their physical appearance or their personality. If you are basically healthy and want someone to help you develop an exercise routine, make sure you take the time to find out about his or her qualifications. If you have an injury, find a good physical therapist, not a personal trainer. Get someone who will educate you and help you become independent. Get someone who understands how the human body moves.

Appropriately dosed and applied exercise makes one better and healthier. Inappropriately dosed and applied exercise ultimately causes injury. It ain't rocket science, but it is an art and a skill. Don't let the buffed biceps and silicone implants blind you.