How to Pick a Good Trainer

Something tells me this dude's a drill sergeant... By Scott A Thornbloom/U.S. Navy via Wikimedia Commons.

Something tells me this dude’s a drill sergeant…
By Scott A Thornbloom/U.S. Navy via Wikimedia Commons.

Using a trainer is not cheap. The cost of personal fitness training ranges from $35 to $200 per hour depending on where you live in the country. But if being as fit as you can be is important to you, it’s worth it to use a trainer at least once and pick that person’s brain as much as possible during the session.  Of course, you’ll get a LOT more out of a trainer if you use the person for a period of time, say, a month. If money is very tight, train only once a week and ask the trainer to give you a program to follow during your other workouts that week. Most likely, you’ll to need to work out about three times/week no matter what your goals are. A good fitness trainer will provide you with support and knowledge and keep you accountable when you feel like quitting.

Ask people you know for recommendations for the right fitness trainer. It’s always better to work with someone whose work ethic and skills can be verified. If no one can refer you to a trainer, go to a local gym or studio and talk to trainers in person. Make sure the trainer is certified by a nationally recognized organization and that their certification is current. Reputable organizations include the American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM), American Council of Exercise (ACE), National Academy of Sports Medicine (NASM) and National Strength and Conditioning Association (NSCA).

Find out how much experience a trainer has. Whenever possible, choose a trainer who has at least a couple years experience. The more experience, the better, really.  The more people a trainer has worked with, the better he or she’ll be. It’s kind of like picking a hairdresser. Do you really want to entrust your hair to someone who’s just out of beauty school? Then again, junior trainers will be more affordable.

Ask the trainer about his style and if he has any specializations. For example, you might prefer someone gentle and patient. Or maybe a “drill sergeant” is what you need. Few trainers can be both. Ask with what type of population your trainer enjoys working. A trainer who primarily works with seniors, for instance, may not be the right choice for someone in their 20s. Caution: If you’re older and especially if you have some injuries, it’s a bad idea to go with a newer trainer just to save money. Chances you’ll  hurt yourself are much greater when you’re older and recovery’s a bitch then.

Discuss your schedule compatibility. If you can only train in the mornings or the evenings, for example, make sure the trainer is available. Find out about cancellation policies. 24 hours is typical, but often, if you treat your trainer well and it happens rarely, you’ll see that many are flexible with your schedule (me:)).

Ask for references. A good trainer should offer you names and contact information to a few of his clients. Generally, satisfied clients love to talk to new clients so they can gush about their trainer.

Last, but not least, choose a trainer you “click” with over one who has the most certifications and experience. If you do not enjoy being in a trainer’s company, you won’t enjoy your sessions. And if you lack joy while working out, your commitment level will drop.

Good luck!

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