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Personal Trainers–how to find a good one

September 24, 2007

With so many personal trainers out there, how do you know you are choosing the right person for your needs? Well, first off, you must decide what your needs are, what your goals are, and then proceed from there. You may just want to lose weight and tone up, you may need rehab for a certain injury, or you may be looking for someone who is skilled at working with trained athletes.

Whatever your needs may be, there is certainly a trainer who will fulfill them. You should definitely ask questions and probe–you will be spending a good amount of time and money with this person, so don’t be shy!

Some questions I would ask:

1. Education! Do they have a degree? Certifications? Remember, there are many, many online certifications nowadays, and it is very easy to obtain a personal training certificate. Be sure your trainer has good qualifications and experience!!!

2. Experience. Ask your trainer about his/her experience. How many years have they been training? Where have they worked? Why do they do what they do? Before entering the personal training field, I did several internships, taught physical education, shadowed for countless hours, and made many, many mistakes! Nothing makes me more upset than new trainers jumping in cold. Experience matters!

3. Philosophy. Every trainer has a different philosophy and motivations for doing what he or she does. It is a good idea to be on the same page as your trainer about his/her philosophy.

4. Expertise. In what area is your prospective trainer the strongest? I know that my expertise would lie in training the athlete and high intensity training. Some trainers are geared toward working with men, some are experts in post-rehab training, some are excellent with seniors. Make sure you find the right fit in this arena as well.

There are many other questions that should be asked, but make sure you cover these grounds. Also, if you are currently working with a trainer, and you see some of these behaviors, I would suggest taking your business elsewhere:

1. Talking on the phone. My personal biggest pet-peeve. It should not be tolerated unless the phone call is from another client. No exceptions.

2. Talking excessively about his/her problems. This is not time for therapy. The session is about the client and not the trainer.

3. Not living the lifestyle he or she advocates. I am a big believer in staying true to your words. Words are powerful! If your trainer preaches to you about the importance of a good diet, but 20 minutes later, you see him or her at McDonald’s…well, that’s no fair!

4. Attitude or unfriendliness. No wants wants to work with a deadbeat! You will be spending a lot of time with this person. You should like him/her!

5. Constant tardiness. Nothing irks me more than not being on time. I have seen this behavior over and over again and I don’t understand it. Occasional problems will occur, we are all human. But constantly being late is not acceptable.

6. Sitting down during your session. Unless your trainer is sick or has foot issues (like me! haha), your time is no time for a break.

7. Not switching up your program or reassessing your goals. Your trainer should apply different types of training methods in order to prevent plateaus. Communication about goals should be open and honest.

8. If you feel like you haven’t worked out, you didn’t.

9. If you can’t walk for a week after your session, that is not necessarily a good thing.

10. If your trainer puts risk in front of safety, tell him/her you are uncomfortable. I will never have a client do or try something he or she doesn’t enjoy or feel comfortable doing. Many trainers have BIG egos and have their clients do things for the sake of doing them because the “industry” says it is the current trend (i.e. wobble boards! More on THAT trend later!). Your trainer should be training you according to your GOALS, WANTS, and NEEDS, not theirs.

With some of these tips in mind, you should have no problem finding the right match for you. Be smart and shop wisely.

That being said, happy trainer hunting!


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