If you are reading this article it is safe to say you are already contemplating hiring a personal trainer or purchasing some sort of fitness training routine. While it is important to make the decision to move forward while motivation is high, as many people get stuck in this contemplative phase and never take action, it is wise to do a little research and ask questions before deciding which path you will take to reach your goals. There are numerous fitness studios to choose from and ultimately you will have to trust your gut and go with the place that feels right and will allow you to meet your goals.
Unfortunately, for as many great and reputable fitness programs and gyms there are just as many TV gimmicks breeding misconceptions and bad trainers reinforcing stereotypes. If someone has a bad experience in a gym or doesn’t see the results they wanted from a DVD or even worse gets injured doing a program not suited for their needs, the chance of them reaching true potential will greatly decrease. Educating yourself on what to look for will help you move more quickly through this journey and keep you from getting injured. In this article I will go over the importance of investing in personal fitness for health and well being, as well as what to look for when hiring a trainer, and how to get the most out of your investment.
When taking the first step to join a new gym or hire a personal trainer, there are certain qualities you should look for. “Is this trainer professional and accountable?” “Will working with him/her improve my quality of life?” “Why are they in this business?” “What methods do they use to get people like me results?” Over the past 8 years I have worked with trainers who are among the best in the business. I would send any member of my family or loved ones to train with them. I have also worked with trainers who I would recommend to no due to lack of passion or because I think they might injure or even kill someone during a session. The good news is that the personal training business is so competitive that the “bad” trainers don’t last very long. As trainers we make our living by continually providing value for current members, building our clientele through referrals. If you are not helping people get results or injuring them, it is hard to make a living. That said, when meeting someone for the first time, how do you know what type of trainer they will be? Typically anything will work for the first 6 weeks. How do you know if this person can really help you down the stretch? What qualities are you looking for?
Professionalism and Accountability:
Effective trainers conduct themselves and their business in a professional manner. They are in the business of getting their clients great results. They hold themselves, as well as their clients, accountable for outcomes. Personal training is a full time job. I spend each day not only training clients but studying and reading new ways to better serve my members. I am constantly learning and perfecting ways to teach exercises and routines as well as developing my communication skills so I may teach these skills in a more effective manner. Part of being a great personal trainer is taking notes of clients’ progress. Tracking their performance and making adjustments when adaptions occur, along with taking measurements on a schedule, will show the results of all the hard work. Good personal trainers put their ego aside (and their client’s ego aside), conducting safe, effective workouts to help each person reach their goal as the GOAL is always kept in mind. Bad personal trainers do random workouts and are always changing things up. I understand people get bored doing the same thing over and over, but too much variance in routines produces random results and leads to injury. You have to stick to something to see if it is working and no one has ever gotten bored with getting results. As trainers and professionals in the fitness industry, we should try to get our clients doing the basic fundamental movements really well with appropriately selected equipment rather than doing a bunch of random things kind of well with random apparatus.
Proven Approach to Succeed.
A very important question to ask a Trainer is, “What methods do you use to get members results?” or, “What approach do you take to help people?” This will tell what style of teacher this person is and if they will take an educated and scientific approach to training. The trainer should be able to tell you an outline of how they will get you to where you want to go and the tools they will use to help along the way. It will also tell you what he/she expects from you. Form and technique should be scrutinized early to avoid dysfunction down the road. If a hitch in a step occurs early it will only be magnified down the road and cause problems with more advanced movements. Trainers will know adaptions occur every 4-6 weeks. Changing too many things with each workout leads to random adaptions and no progress; moving to heavier weight or harder exercises each workout without a planned deloading period will lead to injury. A trainer should be able to give you a general idea of how they will get you to where you want to go but also be able to progress and regress based on your feedback. Progressive overload helps avoid plataues and bring about changes in the physique. Workout routines should be properly periodized and formatted based on the individuals goal, current state of physical fitness, training schedule, and experience level. The first 4-6 weeks should focus on movement quality and correcting or reinforcing good movement patterns. Exercises should be kept simple so the trainee can become proficient with the movements. If you were an artist would you want to paint many styles kind of well, or would you want to paint one style really, really well? Trainers should want their clients to be proficient in a few methods and perform fundamental movements really well, not perform many different modes and do complicated workouts kind of well.
Motivation and Dedication
Probably the most important thing to consider when hiring a trainer would be how they answer the question “Why are you in this business?” This will give you insight into what drives them, what makes them get up every morning and what makes them tick. A trainer needs to be passionate and excited about what they do and why they do what they do they do. The trainer needs to walk the walk not just talk the talk so that their passion will rub off on those they train. Trainers provide clients with direction not only with form and technique but with general health and wellness. Guidelines need to be defined such as how many days to spend working out, how much time spent on mobility work each day, and what each workout will consist of. The overall goal should be to improve quality of life. Anyone can lose weight doing copious amounts of exercise while on a calorie restrictive diet, but how will they feel during the process. Their goal may be losing weight and you may help them get there, but did you really improve their situation?
Someone starting a new program is going to feel a sense of anxiety. The trainer should make the person feel comfortable and at home and help get them comfortable with stepping out of their comfort zone. Successes and obstacles should be addressed in a positive manner. It is easy to be positive when someone is experiencing success, but when obstacles arise, the trainer needs to be able to evaluate the situation and work with the member to come up with a plan of action that will work. It is always a team effort and the client is doing the work. As trainer our job is to act as guide on the journey.