As schoolboy/girl and high school sports have become more competitive, people have been employing the services of personal trainers and strength coaches for kids of all ages. Here are some things to look for in hiring a prospective strength and conditioning professional for your son and/or daughter, whether or not they are athletes.
In recent years, speed and conditioning facilities have cropped up across the nation in an attempt to capitalize on the conditioning craze for kids. There are some issues to be aware of before you send your kids into one of these franchised facilities, or any other local facility.
As the popularity of personal trainers for kids has grown, there is a shortage of quality trainers. This shortage is not just for trainers of kids, but for trainers in general, as all kinds of fitness facilities want to attract this huge demographic.
There is no such thing as one, most-important credential to look for in strength professional, but there are a series of credentials that any personal trainer or strength coach should hold. If your child is an athlete, you should look for a strength coach that holds the Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist (CSCS) designation as awarded by the National Strength and Conditioning Association (NSCA).
The NSCA has set the standard in the field of strength and conditioning as it applies to athletes, and has taken particular interest in studying the needs of young athletes and designing the appropriate training protocols to meet their needs. Anyone who works with your kid should at least hold the NSCA’s Certified Personal Trainer designation.
Experience in working with children should be a prerequisite for any trainer that you hire to work with your kid. Don’t be afraid to ask a trainer for a list of references from his existing clients so that you can speak to the parents of the kids to get a feel for how this conditioning professional handles the needs of young kids. And if your kid isn’t an athlete, make sure the trainer understands this, and can verbalize their approach to handling the needs of your son or daughter.
Since not every kid is an athlete, a good conditioning pro will be able to adjust his or her program to accommodate the needs of a diverse group of kids. Make sure that if you send your kid to a facility based on the reputation of a particular strength and conditioning coach that your kid actually works with this person or someone who is equally qualified.
I have seen firsthand how facilities generate business based on the rep of an individual trainer, but this trainer does not actually work with the vast majority of kids who walk through the door. This is particularly important if you are thinking of sending your kid to a facility that conducts group sessions or classes in which one instructor is responsible for a group of kids.
Group sessions and/or classes should be conducted by legit certified strength professionals, and not by just an ordinary fitness instructor. If you are thinking of sending your child to a large facility that accommodates a high-volume of both kids and adults during the day, you may want to spend some time in the facility so that you can gauge the kinds of folks who frequent the establishment. You may not want to send your kid into a place where hundreds of people of all ages pass through during the day, and where you have no control over the people your child may come in contact with.
An unpleasant fact that you must contend with when talking about local gyms is that there are a lot of activities that can occur in these places that you may not want to expose your kids to. For instance, performance-enhancing drugs have changed hands in gyms for the past two generations, and most of the steroid scandals that have involved pro athletes in recent years have included a local gym.
Some of the biggest names in these drug scandals have been involved with guys who plied their trade at the local gym. Not all gyms are the setting for this kind of activity, but as a parent you should be aware that this kind of activity could happen at the gym. Strength professionals who work with kids should undergo a background check by a state-sponsored agency or private security firm that includes being fingerprinted.
Over the past 10 years as more and more children have come through the doors of my facility, I have taken the step of making sure that my partners and all of my employees get fingerprinted and undergo a State Police/F.B.I. background check. The added expense is a small price to pay in order to give our clients, and prospective clients, peace of mind and the feeling that they are dealing with the highest level of certified conditioning professionals.
Additionally, make sure that you and your kid feel comfortable with any trainer that you are thinking of working with. You must feel as if you can ask questions about the trainer’s program and philosophies, as well as feel comfortable with their demeanor and appearance. You can tell a lot about strength pro by their appearance and by how they handle answering questions about their program, as well as by the questions that they ask you about your child and your goals.
By following these steps, you will know what to look for in a conditioning professional – and the facility in which they work – and can make an informed decision in hiring the best possible person to work with your kid.