How to Choose a Personal Trainer
Hiring a personal trainer (PT) shouldn’t be about 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, body and health. We’re busting myths about how to find a good trainer and cover what questions you should ask before hiring one.
Is a jacked/cut/fit trainer a better choice?
There’s a myth that the biggest, strongest or leanest people are the most qualified to give training advice. Sometimes they are, but not always. The idea that someone must have a certain level in a sport in order to be reliable with technical information is false. Saying that you’re not qualified to coach someone unless you’ve had 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 fittest people usually achieve results despite what they know, not because of it. They organise their lives around gyms and kitchens. This might make them a great resource, but it doesn’t mean they can write you an individualised training programme.
Should I judge a trainer by how their clients look?
In a normal gym setting, absolutely not. The majority of clients are recreational exercisers who are after general fitness. If someone works with the trainer once or twice a week, and then eats how they please and does nothing the rest of the time – you can’t blame the trainer. Such gym-goers tend to gauge their success by how they feel post-workout. And there’s nothing wrong with that.
Should I pick a trainer who will push me towards serious results?
Many PTs think that you’re 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 getting regular exercise and strength training, which include:
- Improved mood and sleep
- Preservation of bone mass
- Enhanced feeling of energy and wellbeing
What makes a good personal trainer?
A PT isn’t great because they know a variety of exercises and how to properly perform and coach them. While that’s part of the job, a professional needs to bring more to the table, else there’s nothing that separates them from an exercise enthusiast.
A PT should be capable in the application, organisation and prioritisation of exercises. A great PT:
- Knows what exercises not to do based on a client’s individual ability, physiological framework, medical profile, etc
- Knows how to design a training regime to achieve specific adaptations
Training trends come and go, but a solid PT today will have most of the same qualities as a great one years from now. The body and its biomechanics never go out of date.
What questions should I ask a PT before hiring them?
Ask these questions before you agree to work with a trainer. There’s no ‘right’ answer; these are mostly conversation starters.
- Where do you get most of your fitness and health information from?
- How often do you refresh your skills through continuing education?
- Here’s my goal. What’s the best way to achieve it?
- Have you ever worked with others like me (similar age, body type, etc)?
- If so, could I talk to them about their experience in working with you?
It may feel bold to ask such questions. That’s good. Start your relationship with a trainer on an equal footing of respect and openness – both sides will benefit.
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