Three Signs of a Good Personal Trainer
The decision to work with a personal trainer is not one to be taken lightly. It’s an investment of your time, money, and most importantly — your health.
The right trainer will leave you much better off than they found you; they’ll show you what to do, how & why to do it, and they will provide you with the knowledge to sustain your success long after your time with them has ended.
The wrong trainer could potentially achieve the exact opposite.
Unfortunately, the barrier to entry for personal training is very low. There’s no governing body preventing anyone from referring to themselves as a “personal trainer” or a “fitness specialist”. Literally anybody could advertise themselves as such.
With that said, there are some excellent personal trainers out there, but the differences between someone who’s good and someone who’s sub par can often be overlooked if you’re not sure what to look for.
If you’re in the market for a personal trainer, consider these three things before making the decision to work with someone.
#1. An initial assessment
A personal trainer should be just that — your personal trainer, and the sessions your trainer puts you through should be designed around your personal needs.
Before your first session together, your trainer should be performing an initial assessment to identify what exactly those needs are.
An initial assessment may include:
- Asking about any medical/injury history
- Establishing your specific goals (i.e. Do you want to lose weight? Gain muscle? Why?)
- Identifying any mobility restrictions you might have
- Using this information to design your individual training program
Too many trainers will lay out the same cookie-cutter program for the 19 year old football player as they do the 72 year old with a history of osteoporosis.
If your program isn’t built specific to your needs, keep on looking.
#2. Having a structured plan
There’s a difference between “training” and “working out”.
Training for something involves laying out a plan with an end goal in mind. For example, if your goal is to lose 10 pounds of fat and add 5 pounds to your bench press in 12 weeks, your programming is going to reflect that goal.
On the other hand, putting someone through a serious of random, aimless workouts just for the sake of getting sweaty is lazy personal training.
How many times have you heard somebody brag about their coach/trainer “kicking their ass” in the gym? That’s because many newcomers associate feeling exhausted with a productive workout — but that’s not always the case.
A five year old could tell you to do 1,000 burpees and you’d be hooked up to a defibrillator before you could finish. It would “kick your ass”, but what did you accomplish? Are you any closer to your goal than you were before the workout? Do you even know what your goal is? (See: Initial assessment)
When there’s no clear, defined goal established with your training; that’s a tell-tale sign of a trainer that doesn’t know how to properly structure a program.
You — and your hard earned money— deserve better than that. Make sure they have a plan.
A trainer/coach that takes themselves seriously is going to invest in themselves.
Not every personal trainer has to necessarily have earned a bachelor’s degree in Exercise Science, but they should have invested in some form of education to provide themselves with the requisite knowledge needed to work with clients before doing so.
This typically comes in the form of a personal trainer certification program. Some of the most well known certifications are:
- ACE — American Council on Exercise
- CPPS — Certified Physical Preparation Specialist
- NASM — National Academy of Sports Medicine
- ACSM — American College of Sports Medicine
- ISSA — International Sports Science Association
One caveat: As someone who has earned multiple certifications over the years; I can tell you from experience that, while having an education is one thing, knowing how to apply that education in the real world — to people of different shapes, sizes, ages, and personalities — is a whole different ballgame.
For that reason, I’d like to point out that while certifications or degrees of any level are definitely not the “be-all-end-all”, they’re still of value, because it shows that your trainer has at least invested in themselves enough to achieve a rudimentary level of education before working with clients.
That’s a sign that they take themselves and their brand seriously — which likely means they’re going to take you and your results seriously, too.
Make sure your trainer has invested in themselves before you invest in them.
There are many variables that make up a great personal trainer, but these three fundamental boxes should be checked before you invest your time, money, and health into one of them.
Find someone who assesses your needs, establishes your goals, has a plan to help you reach those goals, and has invested in an education — your body will thank you.
Thanks for reading! Have a topic that you’d like to have covered in a future article? Let me know in the comments.
Click here to be notified whenever a new story is published. — Zack