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How To Choose A Personal Trainer

Whether you’re just starting with fitness and weight lifting or you are a seasoned veteran wanting to kick-start a stalled program, there’s a good chance at one point or another you’re going to want to hire a personal trainer to help you accomplish your goals.

Personal trainers can be extremely beneficial, not only for the knowledge they can provide you with but also for that added support and motivation.  For some individuals, simply knowing they have someone to be accountable to will get them into that gym on a more regular basis, allowing them to obtain their goals faster.

Not all personal trainers are created equally though.  Understanding what it is you need to look for when choosing a personal trainer will be vital so that you are getting the most for your money.  Just as you’d want to find a physician who specializes in your state of need, you should find a personal trainer who will specifically be able to help you get to where you want to be.

Here’s what you need to consider.

Certifications Held

First, always enquire about what certifications the personal trainer has.  There are many different certification bodies out there and some of them are vastly different in terms of the total time investment that’s needed to obtain them.   While that’s not to say some of the shorter-term certifications are not beneficial, it only stands to reason that the more time the trainer has spent learning the various aspects of the human body with relation to training, the larger the database they will have to call upon when working with you.

There are also specialized certifications in specific areas, so that’s another factor to consider.  There are certifications for group training, nutrition (which you will likely want if you hope to get diet advice from your trainer), older adult exercise, pregnancy and post-pregnancy training, aquatics, along with many others that are being developed as time goes on.

It’s important that the trainer you are considering shows signs of investing in their ongoing education through additional coursework completed on a yearly basis as this demonstrates they are staying on top of trends in the fitness and health field.  Since new research is always coming out with new findings on how the body reacts to forms of exercise and nutritional practices, ongoing learning is vital.

Background Experience

Before hiring your personal trainer, be sure you ask them about their previous clientele and who they have mostly worked with.  Since real world experience can sometimes be even more applicable to success than education, this should be another top priority.

If you are someone who has the goal of competing one day in a fitness or bodybuilding competition, it’s extremely important that you have a trainer who has put other people through a show.  At that level of training, the diet and workout will become very intricate; much more so than a general program geared towards fat loss or muscle building.  The trainer needs to have an understanding of carb depletion and loading, how to properly take someone to extremely low body fat levels, as well as how to prevent metabolic issues that can frequently occur with competition diets.

New mom’s will also want to really watch previous experience since during post-pregnancy there are other factors that need to be considered such as breastfeeding and keeping energy levels up that need to be dealt with, so a standard diet and workout program is not going to be applicable.  If the trainer has worked with a number of mom’s before, helping them regain back their pre-pregnancy body, they will have the necessary knowledge of the best processes to take to lose the weight safely and effectively.

Time Availability

Before booking a session with a trainer you have in mind, you should also request information on their time availability.  If you are someone who is just looking for a couple of sessions with the trainer to get put on a basic program and get you started, this is not going to be as big of an issue.   If you are looking for a 3-day a week training package though, you want to make sure the trainer isn’t close to being overbooked, or you’re going to be doing a lot of accommodating to their schedule. 

Some trainers will work both early morning and evening hours, while others will only work at one of those selected times.  Ask about this before signing up for too many sessions with the trainer so you can be sure they will be at the gym around the times that’s most convenient for you.

Age and Gender of the Trainer

For some individuals this won’t be a huge deal, but others will work best with trainers who they can identify with, causing age and gender to play a role.  Since some clients prefer to use their personal training sessions as not only a time to workout, but also a time to socialize, if the personal trainer you choose is closer to your age bracket, the chances you’ll have more in common with them are higher.

Gender can also be a factor, especially for female clients.  Often they will feel more comfortable working with a woman trainer, so ask yourself this before you start your search.  It’s common knowledge that many individuals do go to the gym in effort to meet members of the opposite sex, so both parties should keep that in mind.  For some this is fine and something they are comfortable with, but for others, they don’t want to have to worry about there being an ulterior motive on either part for the training session. Choosing the gender and age range carefully will help remedy that problem.

Price Rate

In the economic environment of today, price is another very important deciding factor on who and where you go to get your training.  Rates can fluctuate both from trainer to trainer, as well as more commonly, from club to club. Often the larger chain gyms will have training packages, giving you such options as a single session or packages of 10, 20, or even 40 sessions. If you work out the cost of the individual sessions with the packages, the rate gets cheaper as you go up in sessions, making it a cost-effect way to reach your goals.  Do make sure you are fully committed to the gym before purchasing the long-term training session because many gyms do not offer refund policies and gym drop-off rates can be high.

On the private gym side of things, in some cases you’ll find training cheaper because of the fact the gym itself doesn’t take such a large cut, and other times in premium private gyms the rate will be higher due to the fact that they have higher quality equipment or trainers.  Private gyms may also have higher membership prices just to be in the gym, so be sure you’re factoring that into your overall costs.

Home Training Options

Some personal trainers are also starting to move their work into client’s homes, so that might be something else you want to consider.  When times get busy, particularly if you have young children, this can be extremely helpful since then you can get the workout in without leaving home.  There will be trainers who strictly do home training, solely do gym training, or do a combination of both, so figure out what works best for you.

Trainer Personality

Finally, consider the personality of the trainer and the training style they use.  This is often best judged by doing a single training session with them and assessing the general vibe you get.  Some trainers tend to be very ‘drill sergeant’ oriented and get results through force and direction, while other trainers take a more gentle nature and work with you to find movements you’re comfortable doing that will still enable results.

Your own personality style and what you respond best to will dictate which type of personal trainer you should opt for, but making sure the personalities align is critical or else training sessions will be tense.  You must feel comfortable going into each training session, otherwise you will just end up skipping them, causing results to really fall by the wayside.

Being sure to keep this checklist on hand as you search for a personal trainer will enable you to hire a personal trainer who provides you with an enjoyable pathway to success.  Don’t ever feel you are obligated to staying with a personal trainer either; if you aren’t getting the results you want or don’t find they are treating you as you would like, find someone who will.  It’s your money you are spending, so don’t stay in a training relationship you aren’t fully satisfied with.

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