When Hiring a Personal Trainer...


Happy Monday, friends! Today's post is for those of you who are thinking about hiring a personal trainer but aren't sure what to look for.

Hiring a trainer is a great investment in your health, but it can also be a significant personal and financial one. The idea is to find a trainer who will keep you safe, help you in achieving your goals and be someone you enjoy spending an hour at a time with.

Most trainers will do a free consultation with you. This is a chance for the two of you to meet and for each of you to ask questions that will help you determine whether or not you're a good match for one another. I hope the following tips will help you structure your side of that conversation.

So, here we go.

Triceps NS and SH

Verify their qualifications. Personal training is an unregulated industry in the United States. Anyone can call themselves a personal trainer regardless of their level of experience or educational background. So my first tip to you is to make sure that any trainer you consider hiring has earned their personal training certification through a nationally recognized, accredited program and/or has a bachelor's degree or higher in kinesiology, exercise science or related discipline. I earned my certification through the American Council on Exercise (ACE), but there's NASM, ISSA, ACSM and others. The key is to make sure that wherever they earned their certification, that it is accredited by the National Commission for Certifying Agencies (NCCA). Ask the trainer with which agency they're certified and then go to that agency's website and look up the trainer by name to verify. Just because a trainer is employed by a gym (even a large one) does not necessarily mean they are certified. Some gyms don't require it.

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Tell them about your goals. One of the advantages to working with a trainer is that they design programs that are appropriate to your fitness level, that are responsive to your exercise history, and that support you in meeting your goals. If they don't ask you about those three things, or don't seem interested when you bring them up, that's not a good sign. They can't design an effective, safe and fun program for you if they don't take the time to get to know you.

Nikki Instructing

They should be able to articulate their style and philosophy. I am not the right trainer for everyone. Neither is Nikki. Neither is Sarah. And that's okay. One of my goals in consultation is to give the prospective client a clear picture of how I approach health and fitness, and how I structure workouts. Because the truth is that if someone wants a boot-camp-style workout experience, they aren't going to get that by working with me. And that isn't a knock on trainers or clients who like that approach. It's just not how I prefer to work.  So, make sure you leave with a clear understanding of what makes that trainer unique. Do they specialize in the kind of exercise you want to do? In the past, Nikki has helped prospective clients find a different trainer, after realizing that she wasn't the right fit for them.

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Ask them about their continuing education efforts. Specifically ask him or her to tell you about the last 3 classes they took or books they read, related to health and fitness. Ask if they have any specialty certifications. These things indicate a commitment to, and passion for, their industry and learning. It also tells you something about their personal interests within the fitness industry.

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Ask them how they track client progress. At our studio we never weigh or measure clients. We set quality of life goals. We celebrate increases in the amount of weight a client can lift. We track improvements in endurance and strength; in flexibility and balance. And we think this is the best way to approach health and fitness. That's why we do it. If that approach appeals to you, then you aren't going to want to choose a trainer who sees the scale/measuring tape/calipers as the be-all-end-all of evaluating health and fitness. And vice versa.

Working with a trainer can be a wonderful experience and a great way to kick off or enhance your exercise program. I hope these tips help you as you interview prospective trainers. If you ever have questions or need advice on this or any fitness-related topic, feel free to post in Comments.

See you later this week!