I'm looking to fix some big muscle imbalances, fix my posture, get a bit stronger maybe and just look physically better.
It's hard to find a really good trainer who knows how to train a person intelligently and not just beat you into the ground like it's boot camp for the sake of doing it. I belong to the local ymca, but the trainers there don't seem to know what they're doing.
I know there are a couple CHEK practitioners in my area (Chicago-ish), anyone ever know if that would be a wise decision? What would be some other options?
Yeh I know what you mean, good PTs who have actually been taught about muscle balance, muscle activation/recruitment patterns and posture are very hard to come by. The only way is to interview a couple, just over the phone and quiz them a bit to test them out, like how they can help you fix an excessive anteriorly rotated hip, excessive kyphosis, weak rotator cuff muscles, foward head carriage etc. THese are all very common imbalances and if they are good, should easily be able to pick these things up just by looking at you, and knowe xactly how to fix them.
Your other option is going to see a remedial massage therapist or myotherapist, the good ones are trained in posture correction and prescriptive exercise. The advantage here is they can treat over-active muscles and reset your muscle spindles to their correct length, as well as giving you exercises/stretches to work on.
Call my husband - he is a certified CSCS personal trainer and has worked out as a body builder for over 30 years. He has recently trained a friend of ours over the internet and she has lost over 100 lbs. He gives advise on workouts, technique, diet, and any other issue you could think of. Let me know if you want his information.
I am a CHEK practitioner so obviously it will seem biased if I say I think you would benefit from seeing one, but I'll say it anyway. Based on my own experience, I've learned more about training a client properly from Paul Chek than anyone else out there. I didn't really know anything about training until I did a few CHEK courses. I've only done the Exercise Coach so far (in terms of the 4 major courses, but I've done maybe 7 of the pre-reqs), but plan to do Level 1-2-3 Practitioner. I'd recommend you look for at least a Level 1, and anything beyond that would be more than qualified. CHEK really focuses on building a strong foundation, fixing postural imbalances, stretching tonic muscles and strengthening weak ones. His courses teach you to assess, assess, assess and tailor a training program to the individual, not take a one size fits all approach.
I would say that you are best to arrange a free consultation with a few trainers to see whether they meet with your requirements and more importantly if they know what they are talking about. Correcting muscular imbalances may be an area that less qualified trainers know little about so you could ask them the direct question and see how they respond.
Make sure they have a full personal trainer qualification Level 3 and ideally a CHEK qualification in corrective exercise or kinetic chain assessment. Without it they probably will have no idea how to help you. Use a personal training company or register to find a good trainer locally like www.motivatept.co.uk