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Personal Training School
By Ashley Boyce, an allied health world staff writer
Published: January, 26 2010
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What can I expect from personal training schools?There are certain subjects that all personal training schools will teach so as to provide graduates with a fundamental understanding of the human body and how it responds to exercise. Expect physiology, anatomy, kinesiology, risk factor identification fitness assessment, nutrition, and exercise science to be part of the curriculum regardless of the institution. Some of the more prestigious personal training schools provide training in skills that will be more beneficial to the business and logistics side of the industry and would include: exercise program design, professional ethics, client motivation, building a personal training business, and how to work with clients who are asthmatic, arthritic, or have other health conditions that require special attention when exercising.
Certified Personal Trainer certification programs through personal training schools typically take three to six months to complete and are available through many community colleges and online schools that can accommodate busy schedules by offering day, night, and weekend classes. Certificate programs typically cost between $300 and $800.
The education is structured in two parts: classroom and time spent working hands on in the gym for supervised first-hand exposure to the job.
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Do personal training schools teach exercise program design?Although exercise program design is part of the curriculum in programs offered by most personal training schools, the past experiences these professionals have had with clients as well as their own fitness background also has a significant influence over how they design specialized exercise programs. This is largely because of the unique needs of different clients, and personal trainers’ understanding that each person’s routine will vary depending on body type, age, ability, and goals. A good personal trainer school can prepare graduates for every situation or every type of client they will encounter. Because of this, exercise programs tend to be as unique as the trainers themselves, and often reflect their personal fitness background. Exercise programs are developed by personal trainers over the course of years as they draw from their personal experience with their own bodies and successes they’ve had with other clients. Although personal trainer certification programs provide graduates with a comprehensive understanding of all things fitness and health related, experiential knowledge is king when it comes to the actual design of the routine. It would be possible for most anybody to research exercise programs and read fitness journals for a cerebral understanding of what it takes to achieve peak physical condition, but being able to glean knowledge from a personal trainer’s years of experience in the field of fitness is largely what makes working out with a personal trainer so effective.
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What types of exercises do personal trainers incorporate into their routines? Individuals who become personal trainers very often have years of experience working out to achieve their own personal fitness goals and enter the profession because of their genuine passion for physical fitness and base knowledge of the profession. This often means that they have a personal preference for certain types of exercises depending on the type of body they’ve chosen to develop for themselves. In many cases this means personal trainers have either a background in bodybuilding if they’ve chosen a more massive physique, or a background in aerobics if they’ve chosen a smaller, leaner physique for themselves. In the physical fitness community the “Big 3” exercises are cardiovascular, strength, and flexibility training. Though personal trainers may have more personal experience in one type of exercise than another, a good personal trainer is well-rounded and understands the respective benefits of each type of exercise and incorporates these into their clients’ sessions accordingly. All good personal training schools will involve detailed instruction in the following:
Resistance training is designed to improve the strength of muscles and doesn’t have to involve bulking them up. It involves the use of hydraulic resistance equipment, Pilates reformer machines, bands, or anything else providing isotonic and isometric resistance to gradually and progressively overload the musculoskeletal system so as to make it stronger. Resistance training strengthens and tones muscles, increases bone density, and makes tendons and ligaments stronger and more pliable.
Strength training or weight training incorporates the use of free weights and Nautilus machines to build muscle usually with the intention of adding mass and definition. This is usually structured as a circuit training exercise using different types of equipment and a combination of free weights like barbells, dumbbells, and kettle bells to isolate different muscle groups with each exercise. It differs from resistance training in that it involves working against gravity when lifting rather than against elastic resistance. Strength training is all about continual progression through incremental increases in the weights being used so as to continually overload the muscle and thereby increase its size and density. When done in proper form, over time weight lifting will reduce the likelihood of injury to bones, tendons and ligaments by making them stronger.
Flexibility training is not to be confused with a standard pre-workout stretch, which any personal trainer will require of his clients to reduce the likelihood of injury during workout. As any graduate of a personal trainer school will tell you, flexibility training is crucial to achieving the best results from an exercise program. Flexibility training has been recognized by the American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM) as vital to proper physical conditioning. The ACSM recommends engaging in stretching exercises two to three times weekly. Yoga has become the most popular form of comprehensive flexibility training because of its ability to produce tangible results by increasing mobility and range of motion, eliminating stiffness associated with injury, and improving stability and proper body alignment during other exercises like weight lifting and resistance training, while at the same time increasing muscle strength.
Aerobic exercise, now more commonly called cardiovascular exercise, or cardio for short, uses large muscle groups continuously for sustained periods– ideally 20 minutes or more- to overload the muscles, lungs, and heart and increase the amount of oxygen being carried to the muscles through the blood. In fact, the word aerobic translates to “with oxygen”. Aerobic exercise is done properly and most effectively by maintaining a heart rate of somewhere between 50% and 85% of its maximum capacity for the duration of the workout. Aerobic exercise burns calories for weigh loss, strengthens the heart, improves the efficiency of the circulatory system, and reduces blood pressure among many other benefits. Aerobic exercises would include stationary bicycle, jogging, elliptical machines, or a structured instructor-led aerobic workout incorporating a series of movements.
Anaerobic exercise is used to build power and muscle mass. It involves exercises done at extreme intensity for two minutes or less that actually limit oxygen flow to the muscles. It is designed to increase muscular performance to near maximum for short bursts by drawing from lactic acid and other chemicals in the muscles rather than oxygen. Anaerobic exercises like sprinting are usually done as part of an athlete’s training and are rarely incorporated into a session with a personal trainer.
Personal Trainer Schools
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