Be sure you know what you need.
Before you can make a good decision about which personal trainer to hire, you need to have a good idea of why you think you need a trainer and what you expect a trainer to do for you. There are no “cookie cutter” solutions when it comes to personal training.
- Motivation: Many people seek out a personal trainer when their own motivation to exercise is not up to par. One of the “excuse” people use as to why they cannot workout is lack of time. This is directly a response of lack of motivation. A good personal trainer can help keep you inspired, interested and motivated to keep going. Look for a trainer whose values align well with yours, so that he or she can help you develop the ability to motivate yourself.
- Accountability: For me this is one of the most valuable aspects of working with a personal trainer. Probably the first thought that comes to mind when you consider hiring a personal trainer is that having a trainer means no more excuses. If you're the kind of person who is too busy or too easily distracted from exercising regularly, having a personal trainer on your side may be just the ticket to keep you accountable. It's easy to tell yourself "oh, I'll make it up tomorrow." It's a lot harder to explain to your personal trainer why you haven't been keeping up with the workouts you agreed to.
- Quality Instruction: One of the best reasons to hire a personal trainer is to get good, clear instruction on proper exercise technique. A good trainer will help design a program that gets you the results you want, but will also teach you the correct form to achieve your goals efficiently and safely. Before you choose a personal trainer, think about how you learn best. Do you need to hear a description, see a demonstration, and then perform the task with feedback from your trainer? Discussing your learning style up front with your trainer can ensure that you get a better learning experience.
Location, Location, Location
No matter how experienced and talented your trainer is, if the training location is inconvenient or uncomfortable or just too far away, you won't continue with your program. Look for a trainer that has a convenient (short drive), clean and comfortable studio or gym. Or, if it suits your needs better, look for a trainer that will bring the workout to your home or office. In-home personal training can be a great option for someone who is extremely busy or someone who is just uncomfortable working out in a public facility.
Personalities Need to Match
Your relationship with your personal trainer really is on a personal basis. Because much of your fitness success has roots in your emotional and psychological responses, finding a trainer you can relate to is critical. You may be looking for someone who will push you beyond your boundaries with a drill-sergeant style. Or possibly you'd prefer someone with a warm, supportive, encouraging style. Do you expect a trainer who is entertaining, or do you want someone with a clinical, technical approach to training? Give some thought to the style of interaction you hope to have with your trainer, and pay attention to personality in your interviews.
Check Credentials and References
Unlike many other allied health professions, personal trainers are not required to meet a state or national credentialing standard. Anyone can call themselves a personal trainer with no training or experience. However, a "certified" personal trainer will hold current certification from one of a dozen or so reputable certifying agencies. The certification ensures that your trainer has demonstrated a basic level of knowledge by passing an exam. Most certifications require ongoing continuing education and periodic recertification. While many organizations offer personal trainer certifications, some of the most respected certifications come from American College of Sports Medicine, American Council on Exercise or the National Strength and Conditioning Association.
In addition to checking professional credentials, be sure to ask your personal trainer for references from current and former clients. Your trainer should be able to connect you with clients who will answer your questions about the trainer and give you their honest feedback.
You may need to interview or even try out several personal trainers before you find the one that works for you. Most trainers offer a free initial consultation to answer your questions and give you an opportunity to get to know their personality and training abilities. Take your time, do your homework, and be clear about what you need from a personal trainer so you can be sure to get the right fit.
Yours in Fitness and Health!
Joseph Teti | Founder of T1 Performance Nutrition