Congratulations! You’ve made the decision to work with a personal trainer. Good for you! It can be intimidating to ask someone to help you with your workouts but think of it this way—you’re hiring a professional in order to keep you safe, provide you with a plan and motivate you to push yourself in order to reach your goals.
A good trainer can help you live a healthier lifestyle, stay in shape and get to a better place in your fitness journey. Working with a personal trainer or coach at least once is a great idea, no matter what level of fitness you consider yourself to be in. In fact, the best personal trainers typically have fitness trainers themselves!
There’s lots of articles out there on just about any workout questions you might have, but nobody communicates that information to you like a trainer. And while you can listen to upbeat music, use fitness apps, or read inspiring words and quotes during your workout, having someone to guide you one-on-one down your fitness path is a total game changer. And if there’s any chance you’re embarrassed to share the challenges you face in your fitness journey, don’t worry: a trainer can listen with empathy and communicate with you the best way to approach your goals. It’s not just their career; it’s their passion!
Once you’ve decided to invest in a personal trainer, what comes next? Here are a few things you should consider in choosing your potential trainer. And of course, talk to your doctor about any major health concerns before you start.
Make Sure You’ve Set Attainable Goals
The first thing you should do before you even meet your trainer is think about your goals. Setting goals is important, but setting attainable goals is crucial. Consider your fitness journey, age, skill level, how much time you’re able to invest and how soon you want to reach your goal. Good personal trainers work best with specific goals—especially ones that are more than just weight-loss related! While weight loss is a common goal, there are plenty of other milestones that are worth working towards! Do you want to make your muscles stronger after an injury? Feel better when you wake up in the morning or sleep better each night? Get in better shape, or find the best workout for your body type? Run a marathon? Whatever the case, being able to communicate your goal, especially if it’s specific and attainable, is what makes your relationship with a personal trainer successful.
When setting goals, you’ll also want to think about how much you can invest, both in terms of time and money. Working with a personal trainer is a two-way street. For many trainers, fitness training is their career, and you want to be as invested in your progress as they are. They’re there to help you with your fitness needs and get you closer to the healthy lifestyle you want. But even the best trainers can’t do that if you aren’t invested.
You’ll also want to think about pricing, and how many weeks or months you can commit to when setting your goal. Even the best personal fitness trainer in the world couldn’t have you running a marathon in a few weeks! But if your goal is injury recovery, you might only need a month or two of support to get you back on track. Fair warning though: once you meet a great trainer, you’ll want to keep them!
Observe Personal Trainers with Their Clients
A little observation can help you determine the difference between a good personal trainer and a great personal trainer! When they’re running a training session with other people, what kinds of exercises do you see them doing? Is the fitness trainer focused or does he or she seem bored? Are they performing and modeling the reps for their client, and giving feedback on their form? Does the client look like he or she is working hard and having fun? Do you notice the same exercises being taught to different clients every time? How does the trainer help their client problem solve? These are all important considerations when searching for the best personal trainer for you. Most trainers will be able to effectively train you; what matters is finding the trainer who will coach you and keep you motivated throughout your relationship. The right personal trainer will have your best interest at heart, be able to give you individual attention during your personal training sessions, and share techniques and tips that will help you on your fitness journey.
Ask for a Consultation
Many personal trainers will offer a complimentary consultation to talk with people about their goals, answer questions and potentially offer a short training session. During this time, it’s best to come prepared with a list of questions. Use this time to get a feel for their characteristics, personality traits, training style, area of expertise and how well you two will mesh. It can also help build communication and trust before you enter the training relationship. A few important things you may want to consider for finding the right person:
- What is your philosophy on fitness?
- What is your background and how did you make the decision to pursue a job or career as a personal trainer?
- What do you typically charge people? Do you have specific packages or plans?
- What is your desired frequency of sessions and how long do they last?
- What does your schedule look like? When are you available?
- What’s the best way to communicate with you? Is a text message OK?
- What would a long-term plan look like for me?
- How do you stay up-to-date with the latest information and studies in the health and fitness world?
- What do you do to stay healthy and fit?
This is also a great time to ask about certifications and credentials. A good personal trainer should be able to point to at least one certification. Many will have a degree in exercise science or sports medicine, and the best trainers also have a certification from fitness industry organizations or agencies like the National Strength and Conditioning Association (NSCA), the American Council on Exercise (ACE), the American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM) or the National Academy of Sports Medicine (NASM). Anybody can read an article on the internet and try to give you health advice, and lots of people can be fitness instructors because of their passion, rather than their specific knowledge of exercise and movement. The best trainers have the right knowledge, skill and passion for their job, all of which make them certified to work in their field.
Talking to your trainer about their education, expertise and ability is a great way to get a feel for their personality, as well as make sure they’re the right personal trainer for you.
Ask for References
If there’s any chance you’re uncertain about choosing a personal trainer, you may want to schedule time to talk to your gym’s manager about what other clients have said about certain personal trainers to get a better feel for the candidate. There’s a lot of great trainers out there, but not every trainer is the right fit for every person and their life. In addition to gaining a better feel for the trainer you have in mind, the manager may be able to recommend personal trainers based on what you’d like to gain from personal training or the type of personality you’re looking for in a coach. Some trainers also have different interests or areas of expertise, so chatting with the manager can really help you get a sense of which trainer is a good fit for you.
During your time, you can ask your gym manager about your local gym’s personal training programming. Some gyms may have standardized programming that includes things like app support, educational articles, or personalized instructions for your workout plan. At other gyms, the personal fitness trainers might just work as independent contractors who have their own style. Knowing what your gym offers can help you think about your own preferences.
If It’s Important, Consider Their Gender
This isn’t important for everyone, but for some—gender matters. In the same when men and women prefer a certain gender for massage therapy, some have a preference for their personal trainer, too. If you’d feel more comfortable working with a co-ed personal trainer, it’s a good idea to ask your gym’s manager if the trainer you have in mind has experience working with the opposite gender.
When you’re ready to achieve your health and fitness goals, choosing a personal trainer requires a bit of research and patience. However, it’s worth the effort knowing the trainer you choose is right for you!