Now that I have a behind the scenes view of the fitness industry, I thought I'd share a few tips on how to find a qualified personal trainer. While most trainers really know their stuff and want the best for their clients, there's also some people out there who shouldn't be training clients.
Hiring a personal trainer is a big decision. You're going to be making an investment in your health, so you want to make sure that you find the right person. You'll also be spending time with them every week, so you'll want to ensure that you two connect on a personal level. Below I've shared a few tips on how to pick the right personal trainer for you.
Ask about their education and certifications // While education and certifications don't guarantee that a personal trainer will know what they're talking about, it's much more likely that they will. Don't be afraid to ask a potential trainer about their certifications. Ask them what was involved to get certified (some are simply weekend courses while others require a minimum of two years of university level education).
Most certifications also require continuing education credits to continue being certified. Ask them if their certification is still current (someone who got certified 20 years ago but has let their certification lapse and hasn't learned anything else about fitness since then probably isn't the best option), and how many credits they need every year to stay certified.
How long have they been training // Ask your potential personal trainer who long they've been training. If they're right out of school, they may not have a lot of hands on experience, but they will most likely know the newest research. On the other hand, someone who has 10 years of experience training will have more work experience but may not know the latest research as well as someone who just finished their degree. Figure out what's important to you and base your decision on who to hire accordingly.
Passion // Just like with any profession, I think it's obvious when people are in it just for the money. After spending a few minutes with someone, I think you'll be able to tell if they're passionate about helping people achieve their fitness goals. There's nothing worse that a personal trainer who is just a rep counter. You'll want to find someone who is watching you, making sure you're doing the exercises correctly rather than someone who's texting on their phone or scrolling through Facebook.
Know what kind of motivation is right for you // There's many different things that motivate people. One person might like someone who's constantly yelling at them and getting in their face, while others will like someone who's more soft spoken and takes a more low key approach. Make sure you and your trainer are on the same page when it comes to motivation. This should come up during your first session when you're during the assessment.
Let them know about any injuries/issues // Make sure you're up front and honest about any injuries or issues you may have before you decide on your personal trainer. Some trainers like to work with specific populations, and therefore know more about them and the issues that they may have. For example, someone who works primarily with pre and postpartum clients probably wouldn't be the best fit for an older adult in his 80's who has high blood pressure and balance issues. You want to make sure you get the best fit possible with your trainer, which means that they might refer you to someone who has more experience working with your injuries/issues.
Fitness assessment to start // Any good personal trainer will start off with an assessment and get to know you. Everything from past fitness experience to injuries should be discussed, as well as your goals. By the time the assessment is over, your trainer should have a good idea of your lifestyle, how fitness will fit into it, and what you want to achieve while working together. I would be very wary of working with a trainer who doesn't take the time to get a full picture of their client. Having a baseline to start from and figuring out goals is such an important part of the training process.
Spotting and cuing // Like I mentioned above, it's important that your personal trainer knows how to properly spot and cue different exercises. Both of these prevent injuries that could otherwise happen. A trainer should know what a “good” squat looks like as well as a “bad” one, and how to cue a bad one into a good one. Whenever weights are involved, your trainer should also know how to properly spot. Some exercises you can't spot (like a clean and jerk), while with others spotting is really important to prevent injury (like squats and bench press).
My last tip is to watch how they interact with their other clients. Are they paying attention to their client instead of chatting with a coworker? Are they taking notes on how the workout is going? Does their client look comfortable with them? All of these things are important, and separate a so-so personal trainer from a great one.
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Leave a comment below about what you look for in a personal trainer.