In my opinion, I think the worst reason to go to a personal trainer is motivation. You have to dig deep and find that on your own. The real reason to go to a professional is to learn the knowledge necessary and craft the skills you need in your fitness journey. It should never be your goal to stay with your trainer forever either. You want to get good enough to do it on your own.
Scott and I were talking the other about what a person should look for in a personal trainer. I was so clueless when I first starting working out a few years ago that it proved invaluable to me. I did not even know how to set up the elliptical! No joke. 🙂
How to Find a Good Trainer
The walls and plasma screens of gyms promote their personal training staff, but what makes one different than the other? Out of a sea of names I have a few suggestions of ways that you can provide some guidelines to make the best choice.
An easy way to help pick out a higher level trainer is education. A trainer with a Bachelor’s degree or a Master’s degree in Kineselogy is a huge plus. They will already have a leg up on the other staff members as someone who has a better understand of how the body works. You also want a trainer with a good certification. They do not need every certification in the book, but it should involve a test that was taken at a testing center. This is not to say online certifications are bad, but without any other real knowledge of the person it is an easy way to help make a short list. You can google any certification to see what was required. I am currently studying to take my CPT through the NSCA. This is one of the most respected associations in the field. NASM and ACSM are also very good.
When it comes time to meet with your trainer turn the tables on them. Interview them to see if they are a good prospect. They will often ask you about your diet and gym habits, and you should ask them the same in kind. Look at it as an audition of sorts. Ask them their eating style and request to see them perform a few basic movements like a squat and a push up (men)/push up plank (women).
Money See, Monkey Do
Honestly, following your trainer is the easiest method of learning when you are first starting out. This is why it is key to look for someone who can perform these movements with perfect form. You want to see how they move and if they do it well without any bad back breaks or awkwardness. They need to know their stuff – otherwise how will they teach you?
In your conversation, make sure your prospective trainer is up to date on current topics like SMR (Self Myofacial Release) and mobility. It will show they are keeping up on the industry trends. Make sure to wrap up the interview with a little pop quiz after the audition.
- What is SMR?
- What is your personal athletic background and experience?
- Have you attended any recent seminars?
- Do you pack a healthy lunch to bring to work every day?
Know their Role
Keep your personal training sessions very focused and learn the technique for a push up, pull up, deadlift, squat and a kettlebell swing. This is not the time to study circuit training or understand fat loss. Cardio is easy to do on your own. Do not look to get sore or exhausted – “feel the burn” as the saying goes. You want to get strong and this will take time. Ask questions and make sure your trainer is giving you their full attention, and not distracted by their phone or glancing at the TV monitors. I have seen that behavior numerous times and it totally frustrates me. You want a trainer who is truly committed to helping you make progress. You know…the real kind of help.
Question of the Day: Have you ever worked with a personal trainer?