Sport-Specific Drop Outs Are More Concerning Than Sport-General Drop Outs. 10 Things You Must Know Before Hiring a Personal Trainer

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10 Things You Must Know Before Hiring a Personal Trainer

A good personal trainer can help you achieve your fitness and health goals while exceeding your expectations. Bad coaching can cost you time and money. The demand for personal trainers has been steadily rising over the past few years, and the supply has increased along with it.

With so many options available to you today, it can be daunting to know which coach is best for you. Let’s be honest, there are a lot of fake incompetent trainers out there today who make a very good living taking advantage of their clients’ ignorance. But there is a way to protect yourself from these types of trainers, and we’ve got it for you today.

So before you hire a personal trainer, make sure you have all the answers to these 10 very important questions:

1) Are you mentally and physically ready to start an exercise program with a personal trainer?

When hiring a personal trainer, it’s easy to forget the most important factor – you. Are you willing and ready to dedicate yourself to the trainers and their programs? The trainer will fully expect your full attention.

Being ready for change is a key part of the equation when it comes to determining whether you will ultimately be successful. A few simple questions to ask yourself before proceeding should include:

• On a scale of 1-10, how much are you committed to changing?

• Why do you feel you need a personal trainer?

• Why do you think a personal trainer will help you succeed?

Remember, in the end it will be your attitude and effort that will make all the difference. No matter how good the trainer or their program is, if you don’t perform at your best on a regular basis, the results will be lower than you would like. Don’t waste time and money on things you are not ready for.

The takeaway: Commit to change first, and find a trainer second.

2) Are your goals and expectations realistic?

We all want to transform our bodies into better versions of ourselves, but if you expect to change overnight, you and your coach will be frustrated. Changing your body is a process that takes time and effort. Whether your goal is to get stronger or lose body fat, your coach should be able to set a realistic timeline for you to help you achieve your goals and expectations.

Be wary of coaches who make big promises, such as losing a lot of weight in a short period of time or gaining super strength and speed in just a few weeks. If they truly understand the process of physical adaptation, they will be honest and open with you about what is realistic and attainable.

Takeaway: A good coach doesn’t tell you what you want to hear, but what you need to hear.

3) Do the personal trainers have a college degree in a related field (exercise science, exercise science, and kinesiology), or are they certified by a reputable accrediting agency?

Trainers ideally have a college degree, as this shows they have a high level of knowledge in fitness, human anatomy and physiology, and how the body adapts to movement.

If your trainer only has certifications, you need to understand that not all certifications are created equal. Some certifications can be earned over the course of a weekend, while others require months of preparation before taking the certification exam.

These days, trainers are a dime a dozen, because a few bucks, half a brain, and a weekend can earn you the title of Certified Personal Trainer. A title does not guarantee competence. Don’t give away your trust just because someone tells you they have a certificate or even a degree. These should be the bare minimum and mandatory, but the selection process shouldn’t end there. Just because they know something doesn’t mean they can apply it. Ask about their education and credentials? what are these? How long did it take them to acquire them?

The takeaway: Stick to trainers who can actually give you honest scientific facts instead of hype and empty talk.

4) Do the trainers actually have real-world experience working with people like you?

There are basically two kinds of bad coaches. The first has very little education and knowledge and puts exercises together haphazardly. While the second has a lot of knowledge, very little experience applying that knowledge. You need to find a coach who is smart as well as beautiful. Sorry, I meant wisdom and experience. When we say experience, we mean people like you. Every customer and customer segment is different. They have different needs and goals, and their exercise program should reflect this.

We all know plenty of people who have years of real world experience and are still bored with their jobs. So ask the trainer about his clients’ successes. Ask for testimonials and anything else that demonstrates his/her ability to work with someone like you will be successful.

Takeaway: Has the trainer ever done this before, and if not, what other reason do they give you to trust them?

5) Before commencing training, does the trainer take a close look at your fitness/training history and take assessment tests to assess your fitness?

If you don’t evaluate, you are guessing. Before you start exercising with a trainer, they should take a health history and some kind of physical assessment of you to assess your current state of health. Understanding the client’s capabilities and limitations is an absolutely critical factor in designing the most appropriate and useful training program for the client.

The golden rule of personal trainers is never to hurt another person. Evaluation reduces the risk of doing more harm than good. Ask the trainer beforehand if they evaluate clients before starting an exercise program. If they do ask what type of assessment they will be doing. If they don’t do an assessment, ask them why they don’t think it’s necessary?

Takeaway: If you don’t take an assessment, the trainer is guessing. Make sure this is a normal part of the process.

6) What is the trainer’s training philosophy?

Make sure you do know that the trainer has an action plan for you. This should include some sort of organized approach to their training program and how they plan to get you going week to week, month to month. Coaches shouldn’t just be shooting from the hip when designing workouts. An unprepared coach means an unprepared athlete or an unimpressed client.

• How do they track progress?

• How do they decide what is important to track?

• How do they organize the client’s training program?

• Is the program personalized for each client?

• What are they all about, in other words, what is their philosophy on your general and specific training?

Takeaway: You need to understand what the trainer’s goals are and how they plan to take you there.

7) What does the trainer expect from the client?

Before you give your coach any money, make sure you know what the coach expects from you. Some trainers want their clients to show up straight away, while others want them to be there 10 minutes early to warm up and get ready to go.

• How many days per week does the trainer expect you to work with them?

• Are the trainer’s expectations of what you need to eat reasonable in line with what you believe to be realistic?

• How much pressure do trainers put on their clients? Is this the type of intensity you’re looking for?

Takeaway: Make sure the trainer’s expectations are realistic and reasonable for you.

8) Is the training atmosphere comfortable and motivating?

A training facility should be like a second home; comfortable and inviting, yet inspiring. Not all fitness facilities are created equal. Sometimes the trainer can’t do anything about it, but it can still have a huge impact on what you learn from the training session. Make sure you ask where most of your workout will be, then see if it’s the type of environment you think you can thrive in and be yourself.

For example, a weightlifter can be very upset if he finds out that the gym he signed up to train in has no barbells and almost all machines and middle-aged recreationally suave clients.

Takeaway: Before signing on the dotted line, make sure you fit.

9) Does the personality and attitude of the trainer suit you?

There are many coaches out there. You have the right to work with people you really like. It shouldn’t be an either/or thing when looking for a trainer where you’re forced to get along with a trainer you really don’t like but is as good as what they do with you but get along Choose between rapport trainers who aren’t very good at their jobs.

You will spend a lot of time with your coach. During personal time, they periodically make you do things that might not be fun, periodically tell you what to do, and periodically correct you. It always seems true that we learn better from those we respect and get along with.

Key takeaway: Trainers should be coaches and friends, make sure they are someone you can respect and really want to take orders from.

10) Does the coach let you try before you buy?

How many people have bought a car without driving it first? So why would trainers expect you to buy hundreds of dollars worth of personal training before you get behind the wheel and experience what they’re all about.

Ask the trainer if they have any free or low cost trials? They should have something in place that lets you try out their service for free or at low cost before signing up for a long-term commitment.

The Takeaway: Ask about a free or low-cost test drive before buying, which should always be your choice.

Here are 10 key questions to help you decide when choosing a personal trainer or other fitness professional. Remember quality is king, and if you want the best in your area, you need to do your homework first.

Jeff Weber, MSc, CSCS, Pn1

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