Some Personal Trainers are more interested in training you than teaching you about how to train yourself. Look for someone who is happy to teach you how to lift weights, use cardio equipment, and do exercises correctly so you don’t injure yourself. This is particularly important if you are new to strength training. If your trainer does not encourage you to learn about the exercises, machines, and equipment, do not be afraid to look elsewhere for someone who will help you on your fitness journey rather than just putting you through a series of workouts without educating you.
Does your personal trainer work with you in-person or consult online? There are many amazing online personal trainers, which have had tremendous success with their clients. But whether you work with a personal trainer in person or online will depend on your needs and preferences. Likewise, make sure your trainer’s availability and location aligns with your needs. The hardest part to exercise is getting started. If your personal trainer isn’t available during the times you’re able (and likely) to work out or if he/she works out of an inconvenient location, it’s unlikely you’ll stick with it.
Ask yourself what you need in terms of training style, schedule, and location. Then choose a trainer that best fits your needs, so exercise and fitness becomes a habit that stays long-term.
Get to Know Your Personal Trainer
Is the trainer qualified? Are they continuously taking courses, seminars, and workshops to improve their knowledge base? Unfortunately, many personal trainers cannot answer your questions about what you should be doing at home or, for that matter, between sessions. If this is important to you, make sure you choose someone who can give you quality information between workouts to avoid losing momentum.
Just because a Personal Trainer says he knows how to train people doesn’t mean he has had formal education in training people, i.e., qualification or certification. Likewise, just being strong, having access to free weights does not mean they are qualified. Unfortunately, plenty of trainers out there call themselves “trainers” without meeting the minimum qualifications set by state governing bodies. So before committing yourself ask your potential trainer what their qualifications and experience are. And if you’re in the USA, check out NSCA Personal Trainer Registry.
Before you embark upon your journey to find personal trainers in your area via the web, magazines, etc., it’s a good idea to know what you expect from training. So many people walk through my door and say, “I want to get in shape.” But this is way too general. What do you specifically mean by “getting in shape?” If someone said to me, “I want to run a marathon,” that’s specific and achievable, whereas just saying I want to get in shape is not!
What results do you think will be achieved with your personal trainer?
How often will they train you?
Are their sessions tailored around your goals or just random training sessions?
How many times a week do they want to train you?
How much weight should you be lifting, and how many reps should you be doing?
What tests will they conduct to determine your starting point or benchmark?
While all of these questions may not apply to every client, it is important that you discuss them with your potential personal trainer before committing yourself.
Understand the Personal Trainer’s Commitment to You
Just because a Personal Trainer negotiates your contract, it doesn’t mean they are committed to helping you achieve your goals. Look for trainers who are passionate about what they do and continuously learn about new training methods, testing protocols, etc.
If you choose someone with little passion for personal training, look at them as an employee rather than a partner in achieving your goals. If they don’t care enough to invest their time, knowledge, and experience into helping you, find another trainer! This is not just about how much money you spend on personal trainers either; the more expensive Personal Trainers may be more experienced, but that does not necessarily equate to success or satisfaction with the trainer.
Ask for References or a Portfolio
Personal Trainers are just like architects, doctors, and plumbers. Their work is their “product,” so ask for references or a portfolio of their previous work to help you determine if they have the knowledge, experience, and personality to help you achieve your goals.
If they make claims about helping people achieve specific fitness goals (for example, running a marathon), ask them what success rate they have with these claims? You can bet it’s not 100% because everyone has different body shapes, bone structures, metabolisms, etc. This will affect how many calories they burn during workouts and how long it takes them to reach specific goals.
Ask for a Trial Period
I’m sure you wouldn’t buy a car without test driving it first, so why should you commit to personal training with someone when you haven’t even met them?
A Personal Trainer’s job is to motivate, inspire and guide their clients towards success. Find out if they are good at these things or not by having a trial session or two before deciding to hire them on an ongoing basis.
You will also get a sense of how comfortable you feel around your potential trainer, which is critical in determining if they are the right personal trainer for you. It doesn’t matter whether your body shape or size, fitness level, or goals are similar; there is no point hiring someone who makes you feel uncomfortable during workouts because this won’t help achieve your goals.
The trial session also allows you to get an idea of how long your sessions will be with your personal trainer. Too short, and they won’t provide enough guidance, too long, and you could find yourself getting bored of the repetitive workouts. The length of sessions varies depending on the specific fitness goal, but I recommend at least 30-45 minutes of training per session to ensure results are achieved in a timely manner.
Confirm Your Personal Trainer’s Qualifications
A formal qualification is not required for personal training. Still, it is recommended because it provides some level of validation about the amount or type of training knowledge they have received during their education. It also gives you peace of mind that their claims are accurate, e.g., “I am qualified in nutrition.”
Many Personal Trainers operate without formal education, which is not necessarily a bad thing; I suspect they learned through trial and error (read: experience), but it doesn’t really matter how they became qualified because you should expect them to be able to answer your questions with ease.
However, what is essential is that your personal trainer is willing to share this information with you. For example, ask them why they chose to become a personal trainer, what qualifications or certifications they have obtained, ask them about their previous clients, etc. A good personal trainer will have no problem discussing these things with you.
Discuss Your Fitness Goals in Detail
This may seem obvious, but the point of hiring a Personal Trainer is for help in reaching specific fitness goals. Before hiring a personal trainer, make sure you are clear on your goals and whether they can help you achieve them. For example, you may be looking to lose weight, build strength, get toned, gain muscle, improve endurance, etc.
If possible, get your potential Personal Trainer to provide you with at least one example program that will work for your specific goal so that you know in advance the type of workout routines/exercises they will incorporate into your workouts. This way, there is no guesswork when you begin working together, and it ensures that both of you are on the same page regarding efficiently reaching these goals.
Personal Trainers range greatly when it comes to their knowledge about nutrition, but if they claim to help you with nutrition, confirm what they will do for you. This could be anything from teaching you the basic principles of healthy eating (what to eat and when) or designing personalized meal plans that fit your schedule and lifestyle.
Check for Red Flags
This is probably the most important thing to do before hiring a personal trainer and also where many people go wrong.
Personal Trainers are not regulated, so anyone can call themselves that without any formal education or training, which means that you will want to be careful when selecting your trainer. Red flags include lack of professionalism such as poor communication via phone/email/on their website, unreturned messages, contact attempts, inconsistent availability (they’re always busy), inability to answer questions about their qualifications, etc.
Additionally, keep an eye out for trainers who try to take control of your workouts by immediately designing a custom program for you without even knowing your current fitness level or what your lifestyle looks like. This may seem reasonable in theory, but it can go really bad if the program is not appropriate for you.
These are just a few things I recommend familiarizing yourself with before hiring your next Personal Trainer. Again, make sure you are confident about their qualifications, ask them questions, and find out what they offer in terms of nutrition help. This can make or break your results depending on how well they communicate their knowledge to you.
I hope you found this information helpful! Best of luck finding the right personal trainer for YOU. And remember that there’s no need to feel intimidated by personal trainers anymore! They’re people too who want nothing more than to see you succeed, which is why mine always tells me, “Forget yesterday – focus on today!” Keep working hard.