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What To Look For In A Personal Trainer
If you are are considering hiring a personal trainer, you want to make an informed decision.
I’ve been a personal trainer since 2010, and I will readily say that most personal trainers are lousy. I’ve known hundreds of personal trainers, and ratio of useless to useful is about 80/20 (Pareto Distribution).
That said, there are many great trainers out there, and hiring one can save your YEARS of wasted time and effort.
To hire someone competent, look for the following.
1. Assessment + Intake Interview-A qualified trainer should ALWAYS have an interview process where they sit and TALK to you before they spit back a program/plan. A trainer that is immediately prescriptive in saying “do this” before they know anything about you is not someone you want to work with.
Following an interview, there should be an assessment (this may be done at the same time). This is not a “workout”, this is a physical screen where they’ll take you through the basic movement patterns, see how you move, how you respond to coaching, and then be able to give you feedback and direction on what your major needs are, and what a preliminary plan would look like relative to your particular goal
If someone immediately wants to give you a “workout” and bury you with exercise, they don’t what the fuck they are doing. Thats a tell-tale commercial gym tactic and indicates they are inexperienced.
2. Experience- Pragmatic reality, the person who has been practicing for 5 years is likely to be infinitely more skilled than a total beginner. I’d suggest finding a trainer whose been training for at least 5 years. While an occasional rookie MIGHT be good, training is truly an applied science career that takes MANY hours of experience just to be competent at
3. Personal Fitness-Trainers should be fit, healthy, and reasonably athletic/muscular looking.
For nonsensical reasons, some people in the fitness industry argue against this, but Ive never heard a coherent argument that isnt woke nonsense.
If someone is educated, qualified, experienced, and a “master of their craft” with the human body, why should they not PHYSICALLY be a representation of their knowledge?
To be fair, this does not mean that a trainer must be 275 and look like a pro bodybuilder. Personal trainers physique will usually align with their clientele.
Bodybuilders will train people that want to look like or become bodybuilders. Same for powerlifters. Fit women will train women. Crossfit Enthusiasts will have a body that suits that sport. Athletic men will train men that want to look like athletic.
I have a running coach that does my running programming for me, and he looks like…a runner. Because he is one. I dont expect him to be JACKED and SWOLE.
You get the idea. Appearances matter.
4. A Training Philosophy-This does not meant they need to have written a book, have articles, etc, but simply that they should be able to clearly explain their personal methodology to how they assess, train, and progress people. This should be easy to understand, devoid of fluffy sounding jargon, and be relatable to what your personal goals are
5. They read books-Ask them what their major influences are with education and any mentors they’ve had/people they’ve learned from. Im fully aware that their answers probably wont mean anything to you, but its the REACTION you want to pay attention to. If they are entirely caught off guard and cannot recommend any reading, can’t recall reading themselves, and cannot name ANYONE that could be considered an influence on their training, do not train with them. The best trainers are always constantly looking to improve their skillsets
6. They get RESULTS-Good trainers get results for people. They should have testimonials and proof of work that validate their expertise. My instagram page and sales pages for my products all feature testimonials. Proof of work is paramount
What to Avoid
1. Rookies-Sorry to say, but the novice trainers are usually the absolute worst. Lacking experience, expertise, and highly insecure, they have people doing downright ridiculous workouts and more often than not, most clients that got injured were training with rookie trainers
2. Kool Aid Drinkers-Don’t train with anyone that is super hyped on ONE system of doing something. Crossfit, Paleo, vegan, bodybuilding, “functional” etc. If they identify themselves by trashing other training methods and espousing their way as superior, run the other way
3. Magic Promises-Anyone that promises you rapid transformation, don’t bother. Same for anyone who tries to present a nice and easy solution. It’s not easy and this is going to take awhile
4. Out of Shape-Reality strikes again; A trainer is a living, breathing example of health, strength, dedication, consistency, and a lifestyle dedicated to longevity and quality of life. If someone is working as a personal trainer and does not model the above, they are a hypocrite.
5. Anyone that doesn’t do an assessment-This is critical. If someone wants you to sign a dotted line without barely asking you a question, they are unqualified
6. Trainers that are always destroying their clients-Often times at big gyms, lousy trainers can do brisk business simply by wrecking people with ridiculously hard workouts. This does not mean the workouts are well designed, safe, or effect, but simply that they are HARD. If you notice a trainer is always trying to exhaust every single person they train, DO NOT WORK WITH THEM. That is not a person who has understanding and knowledge of appropriate exercise application and selection
This list should give you a clear criteria in making a selection.
7. Trainers that work at commercial gyms-Im being a total asshole here, and I myself used to work at commercial gyms. Commercial gyms are where most trainers get their start (I did), and because of this, they are almost always rookies, and fucking terrible.
That said, sometimes you can find AWESOME trainers are commercial gyms, but make sure they follow the criteria of; experience, being fit themselves, and having clients that visibly get results
Any questions on the above, let me know