Picture this: you’ve never tried yoga but you decide to sign up for a class. There are a number of studios in your area to choose from. You have some concerns as you injured your knee a few months ago. How do you know what studio and teacher will be right for you?
I wrote a post a few months ago that explained the differences between exercise physiologists, physiotherapists and personal trainers. But when you’re trying to choose a fitness class to join, what qualities should you look for in the instructor? I often get asked in my role at the Physical Activity Line, “how do I choose a (fill in the blank) instructor?” This is what I tell them; consider these points:
- Certification. Fitness professionals can have a variety of certifications (example: a personal trainer may have a yoga instructor certificate). Having a broad level accreditation (like personal trainer, exercise physiologist, or physiotherapist) gives the professional a background of knowledge, upon which they can add specialty certifications. For example, a group spin instructor may also be an accredited exercise physiologist. Or, an aquatic instructor may have a specialization in pool classes for those with arthritis. Specialty certificates have credible governing bodies that are provincially or nationally recognized and require their members to maintain competency by taking courses or participating in events.
- Years of experience: Having many years under ones belt generally means having more experience and learning opportunities.
- Reviews: Do your homework. Ask friends or other professionals for referrals and suggestions. See if the professional has online reviews (however, keep in mind these are individual opinions).
- Test them out: Don’t be afraid to ask for a free trial session or class. If that’s not an option, start with a drop in class; do not feel pressured to sign up for anything. Before heading to your class or session, make a list of things you’re looking for (is the instructor patient? Welcoming? Does it seem like they know their stuff?). Think about what you may want to ask them before or after the class (can they work around an injury you have?).
At the end of the day, it’s your dollar. So do your research and find the best professional for your needs. If you still have questions, don’t hesitate to contact the Physical Activity Line (8-1-1) for free advice.