07 Nov How to choose a personal trainer
Choosing a personal trainer doesn’t have to be difficult. Good personal trainers are like skilled professionals in any field, in that they all have different strengths and weaknesses. The key is to decide what you want and need from a personal trainer and then look for the person who ticks the right boxes.
Qualifications and education make a difference in choosing a personal trainer
Your body is a complicated system, and you need to be confident that your personal trainer understands it well. Education is key, from their qualifications to their on-going learning through courses and reading.
Don’t be afraid to ask about this, because good personal trainers will be happy to provide the information about where they studied and where they got their certifications.
The inside tip is that thousands of institutions offer qualifications and certifications, but they are not all equal. Some basic on-line research will tell you if any should be avoided or sought after.
You should also ask them if they read the latest research in their field or attend on-going training. The best personal trainers love this stuff, because it helps them to do a better job for their clients.
Good personal trainers do their paperwork
Any personal trainer worth their salt will do a rigorous assessment before coming with a plan. They should ask you a raft of questions, but check to see if they use a prepared list, because this is a good clue about their professionalism and understanding.
Checklists are important and show your personal trainer is a real pro. Astronauts use checklists, so do surgeons and airline pilots: they help to prevent important things being missed.
This assessment will probably include physical measurements and tests, and these can range from weighing you to doing blood-oxygen saturation tests, and a huge range of flexibility, strength and fitness tests. The ones they choose to use will vary, but they should be able explain why they do each one.
A personal trainer should actively monitor you progress
When you are choosing a personal trainer, a good tip is to ask how they will monitor your progress. The best trainers will have a clear idea of how and when they expect to see progress.
The exact way this works varies between individuals and the gyms where they work. Workout stats can sometimes be shared using apps, and some gyms have in-house systems to do this. Other gyms use written notes that you update during or after a session, and your trainer can check those notes.
Your personal trainer will also want regular contact with you to check you are doing exercises correctly and getting the most out of them.
Choose a personal trainer who listens
When you first meet a good personal trainer to talk about working with them, make sure they’re a good listener. They will want to know what you want to achieve, how you train (if at all), how you eat and a load of other information.
They should ask questions designed to draw more information out of you, probing to find out about your motivation, any problems you have with injury or illness, and dozens of other things.
Every personal trainer has a different style, but the best ones will be very good at listening to what you say and asking questions that help them to understand you.
Understanding nutrition is a key skill for personal trainers
Some personal trainers will give you an exercise plan but won’t bother with the crucial subject of your diet. Having a good exercise plan and bad diet is the equivalent of building a Formula 1 car and putting mud in the fuel tank.
A good personal trainer will ask about your diet, and advise you on what and when to eat. They can talk about supplements, things to avoid, the best times to eat and reassure you that the odd treat is fine in moderation.
When you are choosing a personal trainer, ask if they will advise you on your diet as well.
Find the best trainer for your specific goals
Personal trainers can’t and don’t know everything about every aspect of exercise and nutrition. Like doctors or nurses, some have broad skills while some specialise. You can use this to your advantage.
Ask what the trainer’s background is with your type of goals and needs, and look for one who has real experience and knowledge about what you want.
Choosing a personal trainer is an important and positive step for many people, and she or he can help you to achieve your goals. Don’t be afraid to ask questions, and look for someone who understands your goals and wants to help you achieve them.