For beginners or fitness veterans alike, navigating the myriad of options and services in the fitness world can be overwhelming and time consuming. Every service and product claims to be “the best”. I personally know about a dozen trainers that claim their methods of training are the best. Bold claims considering that there are over 250,000 fitness professionals in the United States alone! So in this world where everybody claims to be at the top of the pyramid, how do you go about picking the fitness professional that is best for you? Here are some tips:
1. Find out what the trainer specializes in and determine if it parallels to your training desires. Most trainers have general knowledge of broad fitness components, but promote themselves as specializing in specific things. For instance, I specialize in speed development and movement, with an emphasis on holistic health. But if somebody desires to acquire a body builder’s physique, I may not be the best trainer for them. Or if somebody wants a more Pilates – based form of fitness, I will concede that I am not the one to get them there. So have a general idea of how you want to structure your fitness, and seek out trainers who specialize in that genre.
2. Look past the letters next to trainer’s name. For instance, you will see “John Doe, NASM, ISSA, ACSM, NSCA, FBI, CIA KGB etc.” The letters are acronyms for specific training certification programs the trainer has completed. And although it is vital that a trainer is knowledgeable and educated, having numerous certifications does not automatically equal quality. In fact, there is a certain corporate gym in which you will see “Master Trainer” on the back of the shirt of the most seasoned trainer, as if they are a training guru or something you have to climb a mountain to see. I have seen trainers with a dozen certifications teaching improper technique, and not being attentive to the clients' needs at all; they just are not flexible and adaptable towards differences in people. A certification textbook does not account for a person’s individual needs in regards to body composition, past injuries, muscle imbalances, or even emotional support. But too many trainers only follow the textbook, leaving their clients’ specific needs neglected and unattended. Make sure the trainers are knowledgeable, but numerous certifications are not a prerequisite for quality.
3. If possible, meet with the trainer and determine if you vibe with them. No matter how well a trainer markets or presents themselves, you will not get the full spectrum of who they are until you meet them in person. A trainer may be smiling in all their pictures and seem like a ray of sunshine, but when you meet them in person they come across as a Sith Lord. That may not be what you want. So be sure to get a real life feel for the trainer’s presence before committing to a training regime with them.
4. Seek the advice of people who have used multiple trainers. There are people in the world who have used numerous trainers. They should be a walking database for fitness professionals. Feel free to pick their brain and inquire what was the catalyst for them to work with certain trainers, or why they chose to leave certain trainers. Their reasons may very well correlate to your own situation.
5. Take advantage of free sessions. Not all trainers offer free sessions. But if free sessions are available it is best to take advantage of them. Most trainers will use the free session as a selling point to convince people to buy sessions from them, so theoretically the trainer will put their best foot forward. However, seeing past that, you can get a good feel for how the trainer constructs their workouts and it should assist you in making an educated decision to progress forward with them or not.
6. Make sure the trainer has availability depending upon how many times a week you want to see them. If you desire to train a specific amount of times a week, it is imperative you make sure the trainer has time for that. When starting off, it is important to get into a good rhythm and have consistency with your workouts. If your trainer can only see you sporadically when he or she has time, it may disrupt your progress and ultimately hinder your goals. Make sure you invest in a trainer that has time for you.
7. Check your budget. Depending upon geographic location, trainer’s experience, trainer’s demand, and an assortment of other factors, the cost for a personal trainer can vary greatly. I’ve seen anywhere from $25 all the way up to $500/ hour for high profile trainers. A trainer with high rates does not automatically equal quality, and there are a lot of absolutely outstanding trainers who charge low rates. Some trainers have a sliding scale depending on your socio-economic status. Furthermore, most trainers give a discount if you partner up with someone. Picking a good partner can reduce your costs, but also be an extra source of motivation as you two tackle your fitness goals together. Most trainers also give a discount if you commit to more sessions with them upfront. It is your money. Be cognizant of who and how much you want to hand over to someone to help you get in shape.
8. Make sure the trainer looks the part. There’s a saying that goes: “Your personal trainer should have an appearance in which you want to look like them, or hop in bed with them.” That is just a coarse way of saying a trainer should practice what they preach in terms of their health and fitness. You definitely do not want a trainer who looks like they need a trainer; and these trainers do exist. So give your potential trainer the eyeball test before you start taking instructions from someone in less shape than you.
Remember, you should not rely on fitness professionals for all of your health needs. A trainer should just be used to supplement a healthy lifestyle you are creating for yourself. Self-responsibility and self-motivation are the keys to prolonged good health and longevity. Take your health into your own hands! Good luck!