More often than ever, people are recognizing the need for a personal trainer. For whatever reason, personal training tends to be the last resort for many; only choosing to invest when the gym memberships, home equipment, and fad diets have all failed. However, personal training should actually be one of your first investments in the health and wellness realm. Personal training is a great way to learn the proper approach to exercise and learn ways to take control of your eating and activity level for life.
Here is some advice to help you select the best personal trainers in your area.
- find a personal trainer with an accredited certification
- select a trainer in good shape
- make sure your trainer knows your goals and holds you accountable
- be cautious of unrealistic promises from your trainer
- ask for references from current clients
- hire a personal trainer with no success stories
- let your personal trainer be your friend
- think you need a trainer that knows everything
- concern yourself too much with gender
- go after the bargain
There are so many personal training certifications out there. If I wanted to, I could create my own, make the study guide and exam, and you could be an ‘Erin Certified Trainer’ by next week. But there are a handful of certifications that meet certain criteria and qualifications to be Nationally Accredited. If you find a personal trainer you like, simply ask them what their certifications are and if they’re nationally accredited. If you are questioning his or her honesty, you can check the certification on the internet or ask to see the actual certificate. The certification does not necessarily make the trainer a good one, but the top personal trainers make sure they always keep up on the best education and information available.
If you meet a personal trainer who is out of shape or overweight, that does not mean they aren’t knowledgeable. The trainer could be very educated and intelligent about exercise science and nutrition. However, it does suggest that they don’t know how to manage a full-time job while making time for their own health and wellness. If an out-of-shape personal trainer makes excuses for themselves, then how will you count on them to not take your excuses? If your personal trainer knows how to work a full-time job, raise a family and still make time to be in top shape, they’ll be better equipped to help you learn how to do the same.
Too often, I hear stories about trainers that paint a pretty picture for the client. They start with a polished and professional assessment, lay out clear goals with the client, and make an action plan going forward. Unfortunately, for many personal trainers out there, that is the last time they visit your goals or even do an assessment of your fitness levels. You’re paying good money for a personal trainer because you want someone who is laser-focused on your results. They should be tracking your progress at least every six weeks and discussing your progress and challenges in every single training session.
Most people go to personal trainers with hopes of getting their high-school body back in just three months. Hopefully your trainer doesn’t promise you that. If your trainer tells you everything you want to hear, they are likely more concerned with getting your first payment than with setting realistic expectations and realistic goals you can agree on. If they tell you what you want to hear on day one, they’ll probably do that the entire time you are with them. Great personal trainers know it is their job to tell you what you need to hear, not what you want to hear. They should give you disappointed looks when you deserve them and high fives when you’ve earned them. It’s a relationship that has ups and downs; it is sometimes emotional and sometimes frustrating. Those are all traits of a productive relationship with your trainer, but it only happens when there is honesty.
Every great personal trainer will be eager for you to call their current clients. You can talk to those clients about any of your questions or concerns. Be sure to ask those clients how long they have been with the trainer and what results they have seen. It’s likely the trainer will provide the contact information of their favorite clients, so your line of questioning is crucial. Instead of asking, “Do you like your trainer?” ask, “What would you change about your experience?”
If you find a personal trainer who is just starting out in the industry, they deserve a little slack. But if a personal trainer has been a professional in the industry for even just six months, they should have some real results to show for it. If you find a personal trainer who is unable to show real and permanent changes in their clients, there’s a pretty good chance that will be the case for you.
When some people acknowledge that they need a personal trainer, they tend to start thinking of friends they know to get the hookup on a great deal. If you know a trainer personally, my advice would be to not hire them to hold you accountable to your goals. It will be hard for them to really give you the tough love you are counting on. This could also apply to becoming too personal with your trainer after you get to know each other. You and your trainer may get along great during the session and you may think it’s a good idea to hang out for a couple cocktails over the weekend. But come Monday morning when you are too tired to go exercise, it is much easier to call and cancel on a friend than on your fitness professional. So be cautious of personal trainers who combine their personal and professional life. Also, if your trainer does not come to your party, don’t take it personally, they are just doing their job well.
Personal trainers are not doctors. If you have a medical condition or previous injury that needs special attention, your personal trainer should certainly be made aware of that. But if your trainer tells you they are not familiar with your condition or ask for specific guidelines from your doctor that does not make them a bad trainer, it makes them a good one. If a personal trainer pretends to know everything about the human body from a medical perspective, that is a red flag. These types of trainers could potentially cause harm or injury to clients.
Instead of focusing on gender, focus on the knowledge, professionalism, passion, and enthusiasm for helping people. If you find a trainer with all those qualities, it should not matter if they are male or female. Naturally, there is some physical contact between personal trainers and their clients. But if your trainer is professional, you have no reason to feel uncomfortable. The best male and female trainers in the world have trained hundreds and thousands of male and female clients of all ages, shapes, and sizes. If you find a personal trainer who meets all of your criteria except gender, I encourage you to still give them a try. I have seen it so often where I encourage a reluctant female client to train with a male trainer and she could not be happier with her experience in the end.
Like so many purchases, when it comes to personal training you get what you pay for. If you find a trainer who charges twice as much as the competition, that means there are people who are willing to pay him that. The best trainers get a full schedule from getting results from their clients. When a trainer’s clients see great results, people notice and they want to train with the same trainer. Then their schedule fills up, their time becomes more valuable, and they have to raise their rates. Trainers don’t graduate from college and just pick a number and declare that their session rate. They start out taking whatever they can get, discounting left and right, and doing whatever it takes to fill their schedules. Then the good ones separate from the rookies when they realize they can charge more for their time because they are seeing success. Then the great ones separate from the good ones when they realize just how valuable their services are and see all the people willing to pay them.
If you have trouble getting results on your own, hiring a personal trainer is a very good idea. Too often people want to try it on their own so that they can save money. Personal training tends to have a reputation of being too expensive. Expensive compared to what? We are talking about your quality of life and longevity. If you don’t think you can afford personal training, I challenge you to think about your priorities. Could it be possible that your car payment is more valuable to you than your own body? Everything in life is better when you look and feel your best. I’d rather look my best in a used car than have a brand new SUV that I struggle to get in and out of.