How To Choose a Personal Trainer who is not an idiot
If you have been following my personal training series, you probably know that I hinted at writing a 4th part. We have discussed many important subjects in regards to personal training, however, we need to collect all that information into a comprehensive guide. The other parts of this series may have left you wondering how to choose a personal trainer. This part of the series will serve as a complete guide to choosing a good personal trainer. More precisely, I will go over general guidelines to choosing a personal trainer and what to expect from a good one.
The number one thing you want from your future personal trainer is his/her credentials. You want your personal trainer to be accredited by a personal training certification institution to guarantee that he/she has basic understanding of exercise and nutrition science. If you have been following this personal training series, you probably know what the best personal training certifications are. If you haven’t been following the series, I suggest you go back and read this article. It will show you the best personal training certifications you want your trainer to have.
Remember how I feel about personal training certifications? If you don’t, then allow me to repeat myself. A personal training certification doesn’t mean your trainer is qualified to train people in real life. You want your trainer to have some experience in the field, because hands on experiences are the best teacher. If your trainer has real world experience and worked with many clients and gyms before, hire him, he probably has gathered some knowledge to make up for his potential lack of scientific understanding.
Contrary to popular belief, personal trainer could be divided in different categories. Yes, they all have a common foundation; however, different trainers specialize in different fields of training and nutrition. For instance; you can have a trainer who specializes in strength training, while you can have a trainer who specializes in endurance training. Know what your trainer specializes in beforehand to see if he will be able to help you achieve your goals or if you will be just wasting your time and money.
Building up on the last point, specialties, you must know what your goals are before hiring a trainer. You cannot have vague goals such as: I want to be athletic or I want to be skinny. Well, being athletic could be interpreted as being able to maximally perform for a competition, and it could also be interpreted as an aesthetic goal. Make up your mind beforehand, because setting specific goals will help you pick a trainer who specializes in that field, and thus he could help you better than a general personal trainer.
I know I have said before that your trainer is not your friend, but you still want to hire a trainer whose personality appeals to you. I mean, if you are a sensitive person, you don’t want to hire a trainer who yells at his clients, and vice versa. If you are someone who likes that adrenaline rush and load screaming, a trainer like that will help you push your limits. Generally, you want a caring and patient trainer to guide you along your journey, and not someone who is just looking to make some quick money.
While you and your trainer could be friends and everyone can be happy, he still needs to be professional. This means no inappropriate touching, vulgar references -unless you are that cool with him/her-, or bringing your friendship into work. Friendship and work should always be separate. A good trainer will keep that in mind while training you, because at the end of the day, he is there to help YOU achieve your aesthetic, performance, and health goals.
This might be an obvious one, however, I had to mention it for a good reason; find out what the average personal training session’s price is in your area of residence. Personal training is not expensive, and the cost could add up quickly if you intend to take 4-5 sessions a week, but the problem is that some greedy trainers tend to overcharge their gullible clients. Before you hire a trainer, ask around and get an idea of how much a session of personal training costs in your local area, so that if a trainer tries to rip you off, you can either choose someone else or negotiate prices with him. At the end of the day, a trainer shouldn’t be charging that much because whatever he will teach you, you can learn on your own. Nonetheless, personal training is a good opportunity to reap the knowledge of someone else.
Availability refers to your availability as well as your trainer’s. If you are going to use a personal training service, you want to be committed to working out and eating healthy and you will be only able to do so if you organize your schedule accordingly. Furthermore, you also want a trainer who is not always busy, but you want a trainer whose availability will be compatible with yours so that you have no excuse committing to training and eating healthy.
This point depends on if you want to hire a local trainer or an online trainer. Both are great options for people with different needs and lifestyles. If you choose to hire a local personal trainer, make sure the place where you are going to train together is close. Picking a close by location will eliminate any potential excuses you will have and it will push you to get your butt to train.
Street credit is close to background/experience, but the difference is that you want a trainer who has good reputation. If a trainer is accredited, has experience and reputable, he is probably a good trainer that you should consider. After all, a trainer’s reputation is measured by his clients’ success -given that they followed his advice-.
The former was a basic guideline on how to choose a personal trainer. Now, I want to tell you some secrets about what to expect from a good personal trainer who knows what he is doing. If your trainer does most of these following things, he is “the one”.
It’s very rare to see a personal trainer ask his clients to perform blood tests. However, a knowledgeable personal trainer will ask you to perform a blood test to address any underlying issues that could interfere with a specific training or nutrition program. Moreover, a blood test allows a trainer to know how you look on the inside, which allows him to customize a training regimen and a nutrition plan that only fits YOU. The plan will be designed for YOU to achieve maximum progress as fast as possible. Also, a blood test that detects any potential problems will help your trainer advise you on what lifestyle changes you can make to improve your health and mitigate before the problem gets worse. For instance: if you have an abnormal level of cortisol, your trainer will advise you not to use pre-workouts, energy drinks and to cut out any stimulants from your diet till your adrenal glands recover. I can think of a million similar examples, but they all have one thing in common: customizing a plan just for you and improving your health.
Just like blood tests, a good trainer will ask you if you have any underlying medical problems. Moreover, he might ask you for a copy of your medical history to see if any of the exercises and dietary regimens he will prescribe to you will affect your pre-existing medical issues. For instance; if you have problems with your lower back, it would make sense for your trainer to not have you do heavy squats or deadlifts, he might even replace those exercises with other exercise altogether to not worsen the problem. PS: Don’t lie about your medical history when talking to your personal trainer, there is nothing to hide.
This is a major one. Your trainer will not spend money on a genome DNA analysis test for you, and neither will he ask you to do one! However, a good trainer with scientific background and real world experience will have enough knowledge to spot different genetic advantages and disadvantages. In fact, a blood test will also help him do that and spot certain genetic traits you probably have. This will help your trainer design a meticulously customized training and nutrition plans to achieve your goals as fast as your body allows.
Ideally, your trainer will have studied the following sciences or at least have basic knowledge about them; physiology, human anatomy and biology. A good trainer will utilize his background in those sciences in understanding how your personal body functions and moves. Once again, this will enable him to design custom plans for your individual needs as well as eliminate any exercises that are not compatible with your personal anatomy or dietary habits and foods that are not compatible with your personal biology.
A degree could mean nothing, but a good trainer will have a degree in a training or nutrition related science(s). This is usually a good indicator that your trainer knows what he is doing, however, it is not a detrimental factor.
“If Common Sense was Common Everyone Would Have It”. I love this quote! Your ideal trainer will have knowledge in different sciences and will have real world experience, BUT thinking outside the box is necessary sometimes. As humans, we only know so much and experience will usually beat any science. A good trainer understands that the human body is an extremely complex machine, and everyone is different, thus he cannot play by the same rules every time. He might know a scientific exercise technique to bust through plateaus, but it may not work with you. Every human body is unique, and a good trainer will know this and will know how to work around potential issues that may not have scientific or real world solutions.
This is a clear one. A good personal trainer will aim to have you progress every single day. His philosophy will be that every small improvement, even if small, will help you achieve your goals faster, thus, he will aim to improve your performance and body composition every single day. If you put in the required effort, you should be able to see progress within a month. But understand that if there is a lot of work to do, your trainer is not a miracle worker!
Nothing bothers me more than trainers who do not track progress, which I have address in the first part of this series. A good trainer will always track your progress! In fact, a good trainer will have you track your progress through metric measurements, body fat caliper or measuring devices, weight measurements and progress pictures. If you cannot physically track progress, how do you if your training and nutrition plans are working? A good trainer knows that tracking progress of a client will help him see if any plateaus occur, notice any trends and manipulate things accordingly to set you back on the right track.
No one size fits all
Another pet peeve of mine is when a trainer prescribes the same training and diet plans to all his clients. Did I not just mention that everyone is different? Everyone has different genetics, goals and starting points, thus the best training program and nutrition plan are the ones designed especially for you. No good trainer will ever give his clients a similar program, even if they are siblings!
I hope this personal training series gave you a look inside this industry and taught you how to choose a personal trainer who will help you achieve your goals no matter what they are. A personal training service could be the best investment of your life, but it could also be the worst. Before you hire a personal trainer, make sure you read the guideline above and know what to expect from a good trainer, never settle for less. After all, you are the one paying him, not the other way around!
If you liked this series or have any questions, feel free to comment below, and please share this article with your friends to help them choose a trainer who will really change their lives around! 😉