What You Should Look For In a Trainer

I know many of you are still trying new gyms, workouts, classes, etc. since it’s still the start of the new year. Getting a trainer is a great way to jumpstart your workouts and get you on track. But, choosing the right trainer can be hard and most people don’t know what they should be looking for or what makes a good trainer.

Make sure they are certified and I would ask them who their certification is through or see if they have that info. on their website. Good ones are ACE, NASM, AFAA, etc. Nutrition advice can be hit or miss with trainers. Really, they should have a nutrition degree or RD certification to give you a specific diet plan….but most trainers (including me) will give tips or advice. If it sounds too crazy, like no carbs or consuming too much protein, then get a second opinion.

During your first visit, they should spend some time discussing your goals, asking you about injuries and health conditions, etc. If they don’t do that…that could signal a problem. During the sessions they should correct your form, offer tips and ask you how you are feeling. If you feel that the weight you are using is too heavy or too light, speak up! Your trainer should push you out of your comfort zone (maybe not the first week!) but not have you doing crazy heavy weights or something you are not comfortable with.

If you are meeting a trainer at the park, your house or a location outside of the gym…they should be providing most of the equipment, unless you have it already. Regardless of where you train, they should use a variety of things from free weights, bands, balls, etc. You want a trainer that will mix things up and keep it fresh. So, if you are doing the same exact thing week after week, that’s not good. Sometimes, if you have been working out with your trainer for a long time (and they ask you if you don’t mind) they might work out with you every now and then. This isn’t so they can squeeze in their workout, but usually to show you correct form and provide a little motivation. It’s just like when I take group fitness classes…if the instructor just stands around and can’t even do 10 pushups, the class isn’t going to be very motivated. Your trainer should not be on their phone, texting or taking breaks to walk around the gym while you are stuck doing bicep curls. They should stay with you 98% of the time during your hour.

When you are deciding on what trainer to get, it’s tempting to pick out the most fit person or the one you wished you looked like. I agree that you do want a trainer that is fit and can motivate you, but judging them just based on how they look can get you in trouble. Not all “fit” people make great trainers. Bodybuilders, professional athletes, figure competitors, etc. all look amazing and they do know how to workout. But, they have to be able to communicate with their clients and be a great instructor. Being able to push your own body (based on your own genetics and style) is one thing, but being able to work with a stranger’s body and motivate them is another.

Don’t enter into any long-term contract with them in case they aren’t good or you don’t like the workouts. Most should accept single-session payments, weekly or maybe a monthly plan, unless it’s against the gym’s policy. Personal training rates depend on what area you live in and where you will be doing the training. But, to get an experienced trainer, expect to pay anywhere from $75 to $150/hr. You can get cheaper rates if you are working with someone that doesn’t have as much experience or you do semi-group training or shared sessions. Most trainers will offer a free session or “assessment” where they will talk to you about your goals, training style, etc. and then give you a free workout. During that time, if you don’t like their training style or your personalities clash, just be honest. Tell them that you’d prefer a man/woman, someone who is a runner, etc. and they will understand. It will save you both time and headache.

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