5 Traits of Great Personal Trainers
You're finally ready. You're tired of being intimidated at the gym, unsure of how to work the equipment, and bored of the handful of moves you know how to properly perform. Maybe you're looking to get past a plateau that seems more like an insurmountable mountain. You're motivated, excited to see some results, and are considering hiring a personal trainer (despite being slightly nervous about someone standing over you telling you what to do)!
All too often I hear people say, "Oh I need to start working out before I hire a trainer." And I totally understand that line of thinking. It can be really intimidating, especially if your idea of a trainer is someone who yells at you until you (A) puke, (B) cry, or (C) all of the above. First, let me just say, I personally don't know any trainers who actually do those things IRL (outside of the TV shows). Hiring a trainer has so many great benefits! A good trainer will ensure you're performing exercises correctly, keeping your workouts safe and effective. They will create workouts specifically for your goals, and they will motivate and keep you accountable along the way. Now, hiring the right trainer is an extremely important self-care decision. It can really make or break your entire exercise experience. You only get one body in this life, so you want to make sure it's well taken care of. Not only that, but hiring a trainer can be a serious financial investment and you want to be sure it's a worthy one.
So how can you find someone who can meet you at your current starting point, will understand your health history, and be able to motivate and guide you appropriately so that you can reach your goals? Below, I've listed 5 things to look for when you're working with a trainer, so you can be sure they're the best fit for you!
1. They're certified through an NCCA accredited organization.
While being certified doesn't mean that a person knows and can do everything, I believe it is the foundation on which they build their career. It's even better if they have a degree in an exercise science related field. Having a strong foundational knowledge of the basics of body movement and exercise physiology is very important in order for them to be effective. Not only will it allow them to design appropriate workouts for clients, but it also shows their level of dedication to their career and their clients. Attaining a proper certification is no walk in the park. They take some serious effort and commitment. It also means they have to continue educating themselves to maintain their certification. This allows them to stay up-to-date on the latest research and most effective strategies in a field that is always learning and changing. This field can be pretty unregulated, so be sure to ask about their current certification status. You're hiring them. You have every right to know why they are qualified to impact your health! This link shows a list of organizations you should look for when interviewing trainers.
2. They're attentive and ask for feedback.
During your session with a trainer, they should be solely focused on you, correcting your form, encouraging you, and adjusting the workout when necessary. They should ask about your experience. Believe it or not, we actually want you to somewhat enjoy our time together. So if there's a style of workout you know you love, let them know! If your goals have changed or you're hoping to get something different out of the time you spend with them, don't be afraid to speak up and kindly make your request. A good trainer will be happy to adjust the plan to better fit your preferences!
3. They teach you.
The goal of every good personal trainer is to teach their clients how to live a fit and healthy life on their own. They don't use a ton of industry jargon, are more than happy to answer questions, and are eager to explain the whys behind the whats. We want our clients to know how to properly set goals, exercise, eat healthy, deal with stress, stay motivated, etc. Eventually, clients will spread their wings and fly, and we want them to feel confident about their abilities so they can continue to be successful and healthy!
4. They stay within their scope of practice.
They don't diagnose you, they don't sell you supplements, and they don't prescribe you diets. This is a tough one for a lot of trainers, because nutrition plays a major role in health and wellness (especially when it comes to weight loss related goals). While they should absolutely teach you about healthy eating and even give you advice/suggestions for high protein breakfasts, healthy snack options, tips for incorporating more veggies into your meals, etc., they cannot give you a specific personalized diet plan. They also have no idea whether or not you have bursitis, tennis elbow, or what shape your knee cartilage is in. They can teach you stretching and foam rolling techniques that can help keep your muscles healthy and joints pain-free! But if you have pain that persists, seeing an appropriate specialist is the right choice.
5. They play well with others.
If you've worked with another professional like a physical therapist or doctor, your trainer should be more than willing to collaborate! Just like other professionals, trainers have a specific scope of practice and skills depending on their level of certification. If you're having trouble in an area outside the scope of practice of your trainer, they should be more than willing to help or even refer you to the appropriate professional (i.e. registered dietitians, wellness coaches, counselors, massage therapists, physical therapists, chiropractors, and physicians). Working with other professionals in the field has major advantages for all parties involved. Your health is extremely important and when everyone is collaborating and working well together, you have a much better chance at keeping yourself in tip top shape!
*If you're working with some one who body shames you, makes you feel uncomfortable, unimportant, or judged, MOVE ON! Do not waste your time or money on someone who treats you poorly. You deserve to be treated with empathy and respect. There are a lot of amazing trainers out there who can really have a positive impact on you while helping you achieve your fitness goals! Life is short, so be sure to fill it with positive things and people!
Exercise is such an important part of your overall wellbeing. Find the right trainer, and it could end up being something you really look forward to!