Personally, I have never worked with a personal trainer but I have seen my fair share in gyms over the years. I believe that having someone to help you when you are in need of learning how to exercise is invaluable. But how do you know if you have a good trainer? How do you know that you aren’t wasting your time and money?
Well, let’s start with what to look for in a personal trainer.
1. Attitude: Let’s face it, if you don’t like the person who is going to be training you, then you aren’t going to be very excited about sticking to your program
2. Honesty: Sometimes the truth hurts but if you’re going to shell out your hard earned dollars for personal training be sure that you have a clear assessment and areas of focus.
3. Balance: A trainer should push you beyond what you perceive as your limits. You shouldn’t be breezing through your workouts and walking away all smiles. But at the same time, you shouldn’t be dreading your next sessions and start planning to skip them altogether.
4. Detail Oriented: Your trainer should be picking up on all the subtle ways that you may be doing something incorrectly. They should watch you like a hawk to ensure that you are performing your exercises flawlessly. Your results and injury avoidance depend upon it.
5. Inclusive: Your trainer should be able to clearly convey to you how they plan to help you achieve your goals. Goal setting and the training around those goals should be a two way conversation. You should always understand the “why” in everything that you do from a training perspective.
6. Experience: Notice that I didn’t mention “certified”? While it is recommended to work with a person who has their certification, it does not ensure that you are in the best possible hands. Obtaining a certification is actually a quite easy and fairly quick process so, buyer beware of what you are paying for! Take note of your trainer’s experience and areas of expertise. They should perform a medical history and fitness evaluation prior to starting work with you. They should be able to demonstrate the exercises that they want you to perform. They should be professional, prepared, timely and convey a fit lifestyle of their own.
Sounds simple enough right? But then how do you evaluate your trainer’s worth over time? They said and did all of the right things up front but the next step is yet to come. The actual work! Your job of evaluating your trainer has just begun. So what should you watch for? How do you know if you have found a good trainer or should kick him or her to the curb?
1. Are you seeing results? You should see progress in 30 days especially in the beginning. If you haven’t seen progress, hire another trainer. Sound harsh? Well, think about what you are paying for.
2. Does your trainer start your session with warm up exercises on the treadmill or other apparatus? Yes. It’s important to warm up but do you need to pay your trainer to watch you walk or stair step? Think about where your paid for hour is being spent. Maybe your program is only really only 30 minutes of “personal training”. Spend wisely and warm up and cool down before and after your appointment.
3. Does your trainer change your routine so frequently that you never see any progression of weight for exercises or even be able to recall what weights you use for exercises?
4. Does your trainer keep a log of your weights, reps & sets?
5. Does your trainer start your program off with abdominal exercises? Think about it! If you weaken your core, your stabilizers! before going into any compound movements, what the chances you will experience an injury?
6. Does your trainer have you focused on machines vs. free weights? Or balancing on bosu balls or other crazy contraptions? Basic compound movements, resistance with weights, cables, bands, bodyweight, is far better than being locked into some machine with a fixed path working only one muscle at a time. And forget the balancing acts. You aren’t strengthening anything except your balancing skills. Again, what are you paying for/
7. Does your trainer respect your time together by not answering their cell phone or talking to other members? The focus should be on YOU and your time together.
8. Is your trainer highly conversational? How can you possibly get a great workout if are engaged in constant conversation? How will you ever find your max lift if you are distracted?
9. Does your trainer constantly refer to their years of experience without any details as to what that experience is? What does that prove other than that they have been doing a job for “years”? I want to know how well they’ve done their job. What success stories do they have to show for it? What type of client base do they have? Are they sought after and highly recommended? Personally, I’ve been using a PC for better than 2 decades. Doesn’t make me a computer programmer!
10. Does your trainer base most of their information and examples from fitness magazines? Magazines are a great resource for people who are trying to learn the basics. All the articles are geared towards the average, non expert, fitness enthusiast. They are not where experts go for continued learning. If your trainer is basing what you do together off of magazine articles, run for the hills!
11. Has your trainer made your workouts realistic for your lifestyle? If you can only afford 30 min sessions 3 days per week, you surely shouldn’t be forced into 1 hour sessions over 5 days! Your trainer should know how to push you and get the most out of you in whatever time they have you for.
12. Has your trainer provided you with any advice or referral with regards to proper nutrition? 85% of your results come from what you eat. Whether your goal is weight loss or gaining muscle, diet is the biggest part of the equations.
13. How much have you learned from your trainer in your time together? Are you able to work safely and effectively on your own? The goal should always be gain knowledge and independence. If you choose to remain with a trainer for the motivation factor, wonderful! But you should never be locked in to staying with a trainer because without them you are unable to train at all!
The bottom line is that setting a lifestyle into motion is a learning experience. You need to be able to walk away with not only results in your physique but in your mind as well. If you choose to work with a trainer, use your time and money wisely. Pick a person that you can grow with and learn from. Stay with them as long as you are benefitting from the experience. If that should change, then it’s time to move on. It’s quite simple really! But, only if you take ownership of your part in the process.
Fitmark Ambassador 2013
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