How to choose a personal trainer

If you want to lose weight, get healthy and build muscle

Hiring a personal trainer can be a step in the right direction. A good trainer can help you set up a program that meets your goals and teach you the best way to exercise. Here’s what you should know before you hire a personal trainer.

What is a personal trainer

A personal trainer should be, at the least, educated and certified through a reputable fitness organization. This person’s job is to:

  • Assess your fitness level
  • Set up a program for you
  • Keep you motivated
  • Push you past your comfort level (something difficult to do on your own)

A personal trainer also provides:

  • Guidance on reaching your goals
  • Education about strength training, cardio and basic nutrition
  • A reason to show up at the gym each week
  • Accountability
  • Ways to help track your progress
  • Prevent injuries
  • Prevent a boring routine

What is a Session Like?

Each session lasts about an hour. The first meeting is devoted to

  • Assessing fitness level
  • Body measurements, scale and body fat testing.
  • Exercise and health history and goals
  • General idea about lifestyle nutrition.

After that, you’ll spend most of your time on strength training and cardio.

What to Look for In a Personal Trainer

  • Education: A personal trainer should be certified through a reputable personal training organization. An exercise science or other related college degree isn’t necessary, but the more education your trainer has, the better your workouts will be.
  • Experience: Make sure your trainer has several years of experience, especially in relation to your goals.
  • Specifics: If you have a specific medical problem, injury or condition (such as being pregnant, heart problems, diabetes, etc.) make sure your trainer has education in these areas and will work with your doctor.
  • A good listener: A good trainer will listen closely to what you say and make sure he understands your goals.
  • Attention: A good trainer will be focused only on you during your sessions.
  • Make sure he is educated and motivated (certifications does not mean he is knowledgeable)
  • Tracking progress: A good trainer will regularly assess your progress and change things if necessary.

How to Find a Personal Trainer

Now, you can  google Personal Trainer or search for personal training studios in your area to find a trainer, but be read carefully their background. The cost will vary depending on where you live and your trainer’s experience and education, and if he is busy or not. Typically, the cost will be anywhere from $30 to $80 a session.

  • Get a referral from a friend who’s had success in reaching their goals with a personal trainer
  • When you’re at the gym, watch trainers with their clients and see how they interact. Make a note of trainers who get along with their clients and seem fully involved in their workouts…that may be a good one to choose.
  • If you do get assigned to a trainer, make sure you tell the manager if you’d prefer a male trainer over a female trainer or vice versa, or if there’s anything special you’d like to work on (getting in shape before pregnancy, getting ready for a marathon, etc.) so you’ll get a trainer with experience in that area.

Like all professions, personal training has its share of losers. But, just because you’re assigned to one trainer doesn’t mean you can’t work with someone else. It may be a personality conflict or you may wonder if you’re getting the best advice. Either way, here are some warning flags that it’s time to switch.Warning Flags

Beware if your trainer does any of the following:

  • Ignores or dismisses your questions
  • Works you so hard you’re in pain for days. Soreness is normal, but you should still be able to get out of bed
  • Neglects any part of a complete program or recommends a level of training that’s too hard for you
  • Diagnoses injuries or illnesses instead of referring you to a doctor
  • Interrupts your session to talk to friends or take phone calls (unless it’s an emergency or can’t be avoided)
  • Doesn’t return phone calls or emails

A personal trainer should watch you, correct your alignment, and explain what you’re doing and why. If you’re having problems, talk to them–they may not be aware there’s a problem. Another option is to talk to the manager or terminate your sessions and look for a different trainer. It’s your money and your body…you have a right to get what you want and a good trainer will understand that.

How to Help Your Trainer

You can help your trainer do a better job by being a good client.

  • Save the chit-chat for after your session.
  • Be prepared by bringing your own towel and a full water bottle.
  • Give at LEAST 24 hour notice if you need to cancel or reschedule
  • If you have questions, write them down and bring them to your session–you’ll spend less time talking and more time working out.
  • If you have a problem with your trainer, address it immediately.
  • Don’t interrupt your trainer when she’s with a client. Wait until she’s finished before approaching her.
  • Recognize that your trainer is there to guide you–but YOU still have to do the work!

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