I’m in the process of transition as my minions will be out of school for summer and I will be dialing down my workload. I’m having daily conversations with clients about their programs and where they go from here. The question that keeps coming up is, “What should I be looking for when hiring a personal trainer?” I get asked this often and feel it applies to all kinds of instructors – not just fitness. By no means is this list exhaustive, but I feel these are some essentials to hiring a great personal trainer.
*A trainer should welcome questions. If they don’t know the answer to something, they should be willing to find out or refer. Ask, ask, ask. Don’t be afraid to ask questions. There really aren’t any dumb questions considering the amount of misinformation that’s available around health and fitness. If your trainer makes you feel dumb for asking or not already knowing something – it’s time to find a new one.
*A good trainer shouldn’t warm you up on the treadmill or a bike. A warm up should be dynamic and be a lower level of the same movements you will be doing in your workout. If you are going to lift that session, warming up on a bike isn’t preparing you optimally for that movement.
*Ultimately a trainer should care about their craft, but their clients as well. As the saying goes – “People don’t care how much you know until they know how much you care”. A good trainer should genuinely like people and care about your success.
*Most people would not seek nutrition advice from someone who eats fast food every day. Look for a trainer who can practice what they preach. A trainer should be in reasonably good health themselves, but that doesn’t mean a trainer who doesn’t look like a fitness model isn’t great at what they do. Not all trainers are stage ready 24/7 (nor should they be.) Remember that trainers are human, too. A perfect body doesn’t necessarily translate to a quality program.
*Ask what continuing education they are perusing? Do they read industry materials? Do they attend conferences? Fitness and health are ever changing. We don’t workout the same way we did 20 years ago. That’s a good thing!
*Look for someone you can connect with. Interview a few different trainers. Ask about their own fitness routines. Do they have kids? Does the trainer understand what giving birth does to a body? How much life experience do they have? I don’t know about you, but as a mom of 2 and a military spouse who is pushing 40, I’m not sure I’m going to be super motivated by an 18 year old trainer just entering college. Not that this person can’t be a great trainer, but there are many life differences that can make connection difficult.
*A good trainer should have the heart of a teacher. They should not only tell you what to do, but the how and why. Are they giving you modifications (a harder and an easier version) for exercises? Are they explaining the purpose of the exercise you are performing? The goal should never be to just make you tired and breathe heavy.
I really like this image from LeanMinded:
It sums up quite nicely what quality trainers should “look” like. Is there a time where a trainer needs to tell you something you may not want to hear? Certainly. But that can be done without screaming or belittling. You cannot push a rope. You lead with it.
What about you? What qualities would you be looking for when hiring a fitness (or otherwise) professional? Share your thoughts in the comments!