We’ve all seen the stereotypical personal trainers and coaches on television and sadly, in real life as well. We’ve all cultivated this collective stereotypical image of a pumped, upselling “professional” who seems like a mix of a high school sports coach and a flaky motivational speaker.
This doesn’t, of course, always seem that ideal, if you’re really into improving your health, fitness, and focus. Not only can these sorts of individuals annoying, but they’re business people first and foremost – and you want someone with a passion for helping you achieve your goals, not just in collecting a paycheck from you.
We believe in a very different, personal approach to finding personal trainers. A fitness coach should and advocate with your best interests in mind first and foremost You want a professional who feels just as much personal accomplishment and fulfillment from your achievements as do you once they happen. Your personal trainer should be someone who strives to truly help you, not someone who likes to stroke their ego, flex their muscles, and bark orders at you. But, that’s something of a generalization, isn’t it?
So What goes into choosing a good personal trainer?
Today, we’re going to lay out some things to look for in more detail. If you follow this advice, and of course, get to know your prospective trainers before making a commitment, you will be able to find someone to help you become what you want to be.
Remember, there are some devastatingly terrible personal trainers out there – I’ve met my share of them. But, like most things in life, there’s a balance. There are many wonderful, praiseworthy personal trainers out there who will take both you and your goals seriously. Let’s take a look at how to pick one of these out, shall we?
Know Your Goals
Before you seek out a trainer, it’s important to know what it is you actually want to accomplish. Are you interested in achieving some actual athletic prowess? Are you just interested in getting in shape and living a healthier life? Or, do you have some goals somewhere in between? What about your current state and lifestyle actually seems like the biggest problem to you, and where do you want to focus on improvements?
You really need to have a defined goal laid out ahead of time because, among other things, some trainers are more suited to handle certain types of goals than others. Specialization is just as prevalent in personal trainers as in other fields.
It is always a good idea to interview your prospective trainer about their goals, their fitness journey, and their success stories with other clients. Another good rule of thumb is to make sure they are certified. A certified personal trainer will be educated on how to properly create a plan that coincides with your abilities and can help reduce the likelihood of injury.
When you seek out your personal trainer, they’re going to ask you what it is you’re trying to accomplish, and where you ultimately want to be. They’ll then propose a plan, at least a general one, on the spot for how to get you there. You can learn a lot about how viable and applicable a given trainer is, from the on-the-spot plan they cite.
A trainer worth their salt understands that you’re going to have moments of backsliding with your regime and that overwhelming you is a real risk. The problem with any big life change like this is, you’ll be very gung-ho going in, but once the exhaustion, daily grind, and long-haul make themselves a reality within your worldview, your drive could diminish, no matter who you are. A good personal trainer will take this into account and will have measures in place to account for “cheat days” – something even they’re guilty of from time to time.
If you like what they have to say, then you can take the next step in sizing your prospective trainer up. Beyond a simple checklist of basic qualifications for whether or not they warrant further investigation is how they interact with you.
First and foremost, they should be good listeners, paying attention to where you’re coming from, who you are, and what you want – as well as why you want it.
Second, a good trainer should open discourse with you, asking you questions, learning about your history. They should be curious about previous attempts you have made, why they failed, and how this made you feel.
They should really dig in and ask you about your dietary and nutrition habits and should have a firm but gentle hand about correcting issues that may arise from unhealthy habits.
Top personal trainers should follow their own advice, and live by what they teach.
They should help you set reasonable goals, ones that are attainable without killing yourself or being too discouraged.
All great person trainers should have stories to tell you of successes and failures, of personal experience and relatability.
Just as the above criteria mark good things to expect from a personal trainer, there are things to look out for that are bad signs too.
A good trainer should always start you out slow and assess your form and performance on a simple plan before getting in too deep too early. They shouldn’t be staunch advocates of overly tough workouts – there is such a thing as overdoing it.
They shouldn’t have overly literal interpretations of exercises. Most exercises work various groups of muscles in conjunction.
So what about the Certifications?
Certifications aren’t everything, but they do signify extended education and knowledge, which is a good thing to have. Some certifications to look out for (but not flat out require) include NSCA, ACSM, NASM, ACE, and Crossfit.
If you’ve found someone you’re satisfied with, it’s time to consider your own relationship with your routine and the trainer you choose. Trainers can only help those who wish to help themselves, so part of this is on your own shoulders as well.
- You must be able to take criticism.
- You must be willing to listen.
You must, above all, be honest about your medical conditions, your known limitations, your diet, and be upfront any time you cheat on your new diet or fail to complete the prescribed routine.
You must be patient and personable.
Remember, it’s easy, on a fatigued, less-than-motivated day, to see your trainer as a tyrant or bad guy – they’re used to this, but you must do your best to overcome this resentment that will happen sometimes.
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