How to Find a Good Coach

Sometimes all you need is a little extra push to help you meet your fitness goals. Working with a coach can help you set goals, remain focused, get healthy and accomplish your objectives. Finding the right fitness coach is like finding the perfect pair of shoes-your coach should fit you well, be comfortable (without chafing) and be the right style for your goals. You should look forward to spending time together. Finding the right coach may take some time, but finding a good fit will be well worth your efforts and can help you succeed in your health goals.

Know what you want

Before you begin your search, know what you want in a coach. Are you looking for someone who will help you train for a marathon? Do you want a coach who can help you learn to lift weights? Do you want someone who will push you beyond your comfort level, or do you want someone who will just help guide you on your journey? Do you prefer a male or female coach? Consider the type of coach you prefer to work with, and narrow down your search.

Ask for references

If you have friends or relatives who are using a coach, ask them for their opinions about their trainers. Ask local gyms and the sports therapy department of your hospital for coaches they recommend. Visit your local YMCA and ask the sports director for names of possible coaches. If a coach comes with high recommendations, do some additional research to see if the coach and you may be a good fit.

Check for credentials

When you find a coach you would like to work with, check to see if the person is properly trained in the profession. Does the coach have a certificate of completion from a reputable training organization? It isn't necessary that your coach have a college degree (because sometimes the best coaches are ones who have the most life experience), but the coach should have completed a general certificate in personal training. Three of the top organizations for coaching certificates include the American College of Sports Medicine, the American Council on Exercise and the Aerobics and Fitness Association of America.

Your coach should also be properly trained in CPR. If you have a specific medical condition, your coach should be well-versed in how to manage that condition.

Take note of your coach's fitness condition

While your coach doesn't necessarily need to be qualified to pose on the cover of a fitness magazine, the person who trains you should be in good physical condition. Ideally, a coach should have already achieved personal fitness goals and should be an example of what you would like to achieve yourself.

Watch your coach train

If you find a coach you think you would like to work with, ask if you can come and watch him or her work with other clients. You'll see firsthand how the coach trains and reacts to certain circumstances and whether the coach would be a good fit for your training situation.

While there are a number of criteria for finding a good coach, the No. 1 rule to keep in mind is that the coach should be a good fit for you and your situation. The coach must be motivating and inspiring, with a desire to help you succeed in reaching your goals.

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