There is certainly no shortage of personal trainers in the fitness industry. Larger fitness
chains, recreation centres, smaller boutique-style training studios, at-home mobile training and personal trainers working out of their own homes are all possibilities. So, how should you go about deciding which one to hire? First, it is helpful to understand why you want a personal trainer. Are you looking for extra motivation, inspiration, or accountability? Or, perhaps you need some guidance and education to help you reach your fitness and health goals. Here are some key factors to consider when looking to hire a personal trainer.
1. Education – Personal trainers have a wide array of education. There are numerous
governing bodies that, upon successful completion of an exam, all provide a ‘certified
personal trainer’ designation; however, some of these certifications may only be a
weekend-long course, whereas others will require an extensive science background with
an undergraduate degree within a related field of study.
Make sure the person you hire has a valid personal trainer certification, but also
consider if they have an undergraduate or graduate degree in Human Kinetics,
Kinesiology, Science, or a related field. Moreover, much of personal training has to do
with the practical know-how. Hiring someone who has worked in the industry for a few
years, has taken additional courses to increase their knowledge base, or has been
mentored by somebody who is credible in the field, are all potential indicators of a well-
2. Affordability – Everyone has a budget; however, cost should not be the be-all, end-all
decision maker. Often, a lower cost reflects inexperience while a higher cost may not correlate with increased success rates. Be prudent on hiring someone for their expertise instead of the dollar amount.
3. Rapport – Being comfortable during your training sessions is of paramount importance.
Find someone who you can be honest with, who motivates or inspires you, and who you respect for their expertise and opinion. The more mutual respect the client and trainer have for one another, the better communication and understanding, which can lead to better results and a more enjoyable and positive experience.
People often envision a personal trainer yelling commands at their client and being unforgiving in the pursuit of fitness. In reality, an experienced personal trainer understands that the intensity of a workout needs to vary depending on the client’s goals and long-term planning, and on other factors as well. For example, if a client shows up for his/her session tired and burnt out from a lack of sleep or a stressful day at work, then the original workout may not be appropriate on this particular day. Instead, changing the session to incorporate more recovery-type exercises may be a better approach. This will allow the client to leave the workout feeling re-energized and destressed, rather than mentally and physically exhausted.
4. Philosophy – Consider the trainer’s area of specialty and decide whether their specialty
matches your goals. For example, a trainer may specialize in functional fitness, body building, sport conditioning, corrective exercise, power lifting, or more. Therefore, it is wise to try and find someone who closely matches your required training style to reach your goals and aspirations. Someone wanting to excel in soccer should look to hire a sport conditioning coach. A person wanting to take up bodybuilding would benefit most from a past competitor or seasoned bodybuilder.
5. Trust – People often hire a personal trainer because they are unsure of what to do at the gym or need some additional motivation. It is important you trust the trainer. Not only to teach you proper form and technique, but to also include appropriate exercises for your fitness and skill level to ensure you minimize the risk of injury. There is a fine line between ‘pushing yourself’ and ‘overextending yourself’. Good trainers are able to assess their client on a day-by-day basis, and will modify any exercise within the workout to ensure the training routine appropriately matches the skill level, energy, and focus for that day.
Just like any profession, there are as many great as not-so-great personal trainers. Do your
homework before hiring somebody. Ask trusted friends if they know of anyone they would
whole-heartedly recommend (you may be surprised to find out how many people have hired a personal trainer before!). And also try not to commit a large sum of money before making sure the trainer is the right fit for you.