How to Choose a Personal Trainer

 July 21, 2020|  Lauren

Hiring a personal trainer shouldn’t be about just walking into a gym and accepting whoever is free at that moment. You are allowed to be picky about who you hire to train you. Why? Because it’s your money, your body, and your health.
We’re busting some of the biggest myths about how to find a good trainer and cover what questions you should ask any PT before hiring them.

Is A Jacked/Cut/Fit Trainer A Better Choice?

One of the most stubborn training myths is that the biggest, strongest, or leanest people in the gym or on social media are the most qualified to give training advice. Sometimes they are, but often they’re definitely not.
First off, the idea that someone must have personally achieved a certain level of success in a sport in order to be a reliable source of technical information is, and always has been, false.

Afterall, saying that you’re not qualified to coach someone unless you’ve had personal experience in the same arena is also to say that male trainers can’t effectively train female clients, and vice versa—which isn’t true.
Secondly, the biggest, leanest, and fittest people have often achieved their results despite what they know, not because of it. They’re gym rats who organize their lives around gyms and kitchens. This might make them a great resource to you on the lifestyle and discipline of training and dieting, but it doesn’t mean they can write you an individualized program based on your goals, abilities, and medical history.

Should I Judge A Trainer By How Their Clients Look?

In a normal gym setting, absolutely not. The reality is that the majority of clients most trainers will work with are recreational exercisers. This means they’re really chasing weight-management and general fitness; most aren’t genuinely interested in committing to a life of gains.

You can’t blame a trainer for someone not make drastic physical changes if they only work with the trainer once or twice a week, and then go home and eat like a teenager and do absolutely nothing the rest of the time.

These folks often say things like, “I don’t want to think when I’m working out.” They want a great experience that challenges them, but doesn’t hurt them. They often gauge their training success by how much they’ve enjoyed each workout, how they feel at the end of the workout, and by the fact that they’ve completed a certain number of workouts per week.
And there’s nothing wrong with that.

Should I Pick A Trainer Who Will Push Me Toward Serious Results?
There are a lot of personal trainers who have this elitist idea that you’re basically wasting your time in the gym unless you’re training with a specific focus on physique or performance measures. However, this ignores the numerous well-evidenced physical and mental health benefits of simply getting regular exercise and strength training, period which include:
– Improved mood
– Improved sleep
– Preservation of bone mass
– Enhanced feeling of energy and well-being

So what Makes A Good Personal Trainer?

Many people, including many fitness professionals, think that simply knowing a wide variety of exercise variations, and how to properly perform/coach them, is what makes for a great personal trainer. While all that is is certainly part of the job, but you need to bring more to the table as a professional, there’s nothing that separates you from the everyday exercise enthusiast who has memorized how to perform a bunch of exercises from videos, websites, magazines, and books.

You must possess more expertise if you want to provide real value. You need to be confident and capable in:
– The individualization of exercises
– The application of exercises
– The organization and prioritization of exercises

In other words, what separates a great trainer from a not-so-great one, or a great trainer from an exercise enthusiast is:
– Knowing what exercises not to do based on a client’s individual ability, physiological framework, medical profile, etc.
– Knowing how to design a program to create a training regime to achieve specific adaptations.

This is the stuff that you can only learn through long hours spent analysing exercises, the principles of training, and biomechanics. Then, more long hours trying them out in the gym and with clients.

Training trends come and go like clothing styles, but a great personal trainer today will have most of the same qualities as a great trainer 10, 20, 50, and 100 years from now. Why? Because the body and its biomechanics never go out of date.

What Questions Should I Ask A Personal Trainer Before Hiring Them?

When you’re looking for a trainer, ask these questions before you agree to work with them. There’s not a “right” answer to any of them; they’re really more conversation starters.

Ask the questions, pay attention to their response, and you should be able to tell how serious they are about their role as a fitness professional.
1. Where do you get most of your fitness and health information from?
2. How often do you refresh your skills through courses and education?
3. How many hours a week do you spend on learning or thinking about programming for your clients?
4. What’s the last thing you did for your continued education?
5. What do you plan on doing next for your continued education?
6. Here’s my goal. What’s the best way to achieve it?
7. Why is your method better than other fitness training methods for helping me to achieve my goal?
8. Do you use the same basic training method for everyone you work with? Why or why not?
9. Have you ever worked with others like me (similar age, sex, body type, medical history, etc.) who have the same goals?
10. If so, could I talk to them about their experience in working with you and learn what to expect?

It may feel bold to ask such personal questions. That’s good. Start your relationship with a trainer on an equal footing of respect and openness, and both sides will benefit.

 July 21, 2020 | Lauren

About the Author

Lauren Jacobsen is the Director of Nutrition for Kcal Brands and the Head of Fuel Up. Lauren has over 15 years of experience in nutrition and supplementation focused on physique athlete development. Lauren is also a former IFBB competitive figure athlete, and long time contributor to fitness magazines worldwide.

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