So you've decided to get a personal trainer. Congrats! But ... now what?
Finding a trainer that you vibe with isn’t always an easy task. Not all personal trainers and fitness professionals are created equally - the fitness industry is unregulated - so where do you start? Don’t be afraid to ‘interview’ several personal trainers before committing. Take your time - you are about to invest in your own health and wellness, and you want to ensure that you’re making the right decision.
You’re about to invest both time and money into a personal trainer, so let’s make sure you get the very best. Here are our top 5 things to look for in a potential new personal trainer:
Unfortunately, credentials don’t always mean you’re qualified. Good trainers have certifications* from reputable organizations or degrees in the exercise or fitness field. Your ideal trainer will have both qualifications and experience - they will have years of experience and will have worked with a wide array of clients. Look for someone who has worked with athletes, rehabilitation clients, and regular ol’ people like you and I.
2. Fitness Philosophy
This is a subtle - yet critical - point of differentiation because it can end up making or breaking your experience. How does the trainer develop their program, and on what beliefs will it be based? Is it gym-based workouts or meant to be done outside? Will you be using machines or sticking solely to free weights? Think about what YOU need to stay motivated. You want your trainer’s values to be aligned with yours to ensure your end game goals are on the same page.
3. References / Ratings
In this day and age, online reviews are EVERYTHING. Social media is quite literally a gold mine of information - satisfied people write reviews, and unhappy customers rant about their experiences. Check out what people are saying online - Facebook, Twitter, and Yelp are all valuable resources when finding out personal experiences.
Your trainer should not only be able to make a personalized training program based on your goals and fitness level, but also help you track your progress to see how your hard work is paying off. Whatever you want to achieve - weight loss, muscle gain, strength training, training for a specific event, etc - working out under supervision while following a program has been shown to be more effective than flying solo at the gym. That said, if you're working with a trainer but aren't seeing results, it might be smart to break ties.
You get down and dirty with your trainer. They see you when you’re at your most vulnerable. They want to help you reach your goals! So, what works for you? Do you need a drill sergeant yelling at you to lift faster and squat lower? Or do you need an encouraging personal cheerleader who will gently coax you into pushing yourself harder? You develop a personal relationship with your trainer, and as a result, personality compatibility is key in ensuring longevity in your relationship.
* Some of the most widely recognized associations and their certifications are the National Academy of Sports Medicine (NASM); National Strength and Conditioning Association (NSCA, which confers both CPT certifications and CSCS, or Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist); the American Council on Exercise (ACE); and the Aerobics and Fitness Association of America (AFAA).