A good personal trainer should always be a good listener, explain why you are doing specific workouts/exercises and will always prescribe a plan that will help you reach your fitness goals. Daunting as it is to choose a trainer, there are a few key areas to help you start your search.
Experience is an important factor in choosing a trainer, but first you have to define the specific experience needed for YOU. Because a trainer has been “in the business” for years doesn’t mean they’ll know the area you’re looking to improve. Instead consider some other forms of experience:
Look for experience showed by happy reference-able clients. Each trainer should have stories of past clients they helped.
Ask yourself, has this trainer worked with people who look, act, or sound like me?
Look for experience outside the fitness environment. This could mean a trainer who has proven success in business, academics, military service, or personal endeavors. Top performers tend to bring their work ethic and attitude to all areas of life.
Look for shared experiences or similar backgrounds. A trainer who happens to be a mother of 3 children can offer invaluable experience to a new mother who is nervous about returning to training.
Experience can take many forms, but you want to make sure that your trainer is in fact knowledgeable. The best trainers are lifelong learners and their resume should speak to that. If you are having a hard time locating their credentials, it’s important to ask. Most trainers will open the floodgates about their inspirations and influences. Some leading questions could be:
How did you start your fitness journey?
What are your biggest influences in health and fitness?
What certifications do you hold?
Do you recommend any websites or articles where I could learn more?
What systems or progressions do you use to help clients achieve their outcomes?
3. The 5 Chimps Theory
In zoology, you can predict the mood and behavior patterns of any chimp by which five chimps they hang out with the most. What does this have to do with choosing a trainer? It means find a trainer who you want to be like. Consider what personal characteristics would best help you on your fitness journey:
Do you need a trainer who is serious and intense? Or are they quirky and can always lighten your mood? Keep in mind that you aren’t selecting the trainer you WANT, but the trainer you NEED!
Once you feel that a trainer has a background that aligns with your goals it’s time to explore how they engage with you.
4. You’ll know how much they care!
The initial meeting is the perfect time to gauge your trainers level of caring. A good trainer takes interest in your needs and listens to your concerns. They inquire about your health and fitness background as well as relevant personal information. Expect questions about injuries, conditions, and athletic background as well.
The trainer/client relationship involves more than planning a workout routine. It involves building trust, addressing challenges, and working together towards a recognized goal. Now the trainer should set clear expectations for what you can expect from training. The approach they use should have a clear progression and benchmarks to track your progress along the way.
5. Persistence trumps Intensity
As author Derek Sivers says, “If more information was the answer, we’d all be billionaires with perfect abs.” Most people have an idea of what they SHOULD do, but generally struggle with what they WILL do. When you begin a new routine, adherence is key. For your first month or two, your trainer should be helping you develop habits around fitness and other healthy practices. When you choose a trainer consider the factors that will encourage your training as well as remove potential roadblocks.
Is it a convenient commute to the gym or park?
How often will you be able to meet? What times?
Is this a price that I am able to pay for each month/week/session?
Is this an environment that is safe and comfortable?
It’s easy to find an excuse why you shouldn’t call, but let’s face it, you’re still reading this for a reason. You’re reading because you care. Because you have a goal. Because you’re ready to do what it takes.
So instead of justifying why you can’t right now. Why it’s not a good time. Why next month would be better. Think about what your life would look like if today you made the choice that changed everything.