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Learn the Right Way to Keep Your Body in Shape

Athletic trainers are specialists in their field

Personal experience: I’m not a gym rat by any stretch of the imagination. Nor do I have a history of maintaining an exercise routine for very long periods of time.

Several years ago I made the effort to get fit – again – and decided to join a local gym for a year. A serious bodybuilding friend recommended I hire a certified athletic trainer he knew of who was a freelancer at the same gym to show me the ropes. He charged me a separate but reasonable fee for each of my private sessions.

I do think it was worth the extra cost to hire a trainer to teach me the correct way to use the gym equipment and learn the exercises he assigned me. I never got hurt – just the occasional soreness from using long-ignored and/or new muscles. After about a dozen sessions, I felt that I could safely and correctly do all of the workouts without further instruction and add reps and additional weights as my body got stronger.

What really kept me going back to the gym this time was how much better I felt after about three months. Mostly, I felt considerably stronger and fitter with more energy – and overall more powerful in both body and mind. I stood up taller and I actually looked forward to going to the gym two or three times a week.

A note of caution

Before beginning any exercise program, it is wise to first check with your physician. However, people with certain knee, hip and back problems or those recovering from other physical injuries should definitely discuss this and other more vigorous forms of exercise with their doctor prior to beginning an exercise regimen.

March is National Athletic Training Month

Athletic trainers are healthcare professionals in their own right, often working alongside orthopedic specialists and physical therapists. They specialize in the prevention, diagnosis, treatment and rehabilitation of injuries and sports-related illnesses.

Athletic trainers work in most healthcare settings including: hospitals, physician offices, clinics, secondary schools, colleges and universities, professional and recreational sports organizations, youth sports, recreation centers, the military, and the performing arts. You’ll also find athletic trainers at most athletic events, monitoring concussion evaluations and providing injury screenings and prevention.

Many athletic trainers find work in gyms or clinics, coaching people on the correct way to use workout equipment from treadmills to weights in an effort to gain strength and muscle or heal from an injury. Others may offer small group classes promoting overall fitness, coordination and heart health. Some elite personal trainers work privately with individual clients.

Qualifications and certifications

The minimum qualifications to become an athletic trainer vary. A qualified trainer should:

  • Be certified as an ACE Certified Personal Trainer. Higher levels of education and training lead to more advanced credentials.
  • Be educated in the physiological and anatomical makeup of both male and female bodies at different stages of age and development.
  • Know what types of treatment, equipment and exercises are needed to meet client needs and expectations.
  • Be knowledgeable of basic nutrition and exercise science.
  • Be able to provide motivation for client lifestyle modifications and instruction.

More information

For more detailed information about athletic trainers/training, certification and employment visit:

National Athletic Trainers’ Association (NATA)


By Holly Harmon for Puget Sound Orthopaedics


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