Finding a Personal Trainer – Get Fit…Not Fooled

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Getting motivated to haul your butt to the gym can be a challenge.  Some of us need to be held accountable.  [Insert excuses here.]  Others are baffled by the myriad of machinery and shiny dumbbells at the gym.  Still others are not sure how to create a workout that will be efficient and effective in helping them reach their goals.  Lastly, let’s not forget the gym rats who have plateaued or are trying to push themselves to another fitness level all together.  If you fall in to any one of these categories you may want to consider a personal trainer.  Sometimes we just can’t do it ourselves.  Personal trainers can motivate you, help you stick to your goals, and help you navigate through the gym so you get the most out of your workout.  However, not all personal trainers are created equal.  So before you go and pay anywhere from $50 – $200 per session you want to know you’re getting the most for your money.

I’ve been working out in gyms for 20 or so years.  I’m athletic, certified to teach Spin, fit, and pretty confident in my ability to design an effective workout for myself.  But I still have used several personal trainers over the years.  They mix things up, help me get to the next level, and push me harder than sometimes I’m willing to push myself.  Like in any profession, there are really great trainers and trainers who should be barred from gyms altogether.  Those really bad trainers can be easy to spot, but if you’re not as fitness savvy here are some tips on finding a good personal trainer.

Personal trainers come in all shapes and sizes. And when I say all shapes and sizes, I mean that literally.  I’m baffled by trainers who are out of shape.  Remember, they are a walking advertisement for what they’re selling.  This is just one way to find the trainers who practice what they preach and believe in what they do.  It certainly isn’t the only criteria.  Don’t go looking for the hottest best looking trainer in the gym and sign up . . .that’s no guarantee, but at the same time hiring an out of shape trainer is like Paula Abdul on American Idol.  Neither makes any sense at all.

Personal trainers should be certified.  Anyone can call themselves a trainer and if they look fit you might believe them, but before hiring anyone make sure they are certified.  Fitness, weight lifting, cardio, etc is a science.  If done incorrectly you can get really hurt.  Certification will alert you that they have knowledge of the body and how it works, but also in proper techniques.

Third, you have to like the person.  Their personality has to be one that is going to motivate you and someone you “get along with.”  Think about it, if someone you dislike keeps telling you what to do and how to do it are you going to be motivated to stick with it.  No! Of course not. So spend some time talking to them and get to know them a little.  Personality is key. 

Ask questions and for a demo.  What questions?  Well, those that are going to let you know if this is someone who is qualified to work with you. 

  • How do you stay in shape?
  • What is your fitness philosophy?
  • How will you monitor my progress?
  • How many days per week do you train clients?
  • What is the cost per session?

Also, a good trainer will offer you a free session to show you a typical workout.  This will give you the opportunity to “test drive” this individual.  Take the opportunity.  And if they don’t offer, ask. 

Lastly, a good trainer should be able to help you establish your goals and then design a program to get you there.  He/she should be explaining the exercises, proper technique, and what benefit the exercise has.  The workouts should be geared to your goals.  It shouldn’t feel like they’ve used the exact same workout on their previous 10 varied bodied clients that day.  They should be focused on you, not putting you on the treadmill and then going off to gab with others.  Focused on your progress not checking themselves out in the mirror with such regularity that you’re left wondering if they’ve ever seen their own reflection before.  And my personal favorite, they should not be eating donuts in front of you (believe me, I’ve seen it!).

 Okay, now go forth and find thee a trainer . . .

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