Whether you are a seasoned gym go-er looking to revamp your fitness routine or someone just starting out and needing a little extra guidance, choosing a personal trainer can be stressful. If you are signing up at one of the big box gyms that offer you a free session upon enrollment, you may feel pressured to sign up with that person. If you are browsing personal trainer websites in your town, it can be hard to weed through the websites to try and find a suitable trainer.
After talking with one of my favorite people alive this weekend, I have come up with what I feel are the four most important things to look for and think about when choosing a trainer.
- Ask about a free session.
A lot of trainers (all that I know) offer a complimentary first session. This is a chance for both of you to see if it's a good fit. If the trainer doesn't advertise that the first session is free, ask about one. The worst they'll say is 'no.' If you're a member of a big gym and thinking about utilizing the training services, ask member services about having a free session. If the club is worried about you taking business elsewhere, they'll usually give you a free or very discounted first session.
- Are they certified?
Pretty much anyone can stand in front of another person and tell them what to do to work out. The difference between a certified trainer and a non-certified one is that you can rest assured that the knowledge they're sharing with you was created by and backed by a nationally accredited institution. That's not to say there aren't some good non-certified trainers out there, but if you're in the market for a new trainer, go with a certified one.
- Do they listen to you?
When putting your fitness in the hands of someone else, and paying a good chunk of money for their services, they better be listening to your wants and needs and creating a plan that is tailored to your individual goals. What works for Client A may not work for you.
Before every new client starts to work out, he or she should be asked to fill out a form that goes over his/her medical past. This is where you want to be explicitly clear about any injuries or illnesses you currently have or have had in the past that are easily agitated by exercise. Knees, backs, hips and feet are some of the usual suspects. Your workouts should start at your ability level, not some crazy regimen that a life long athlete would be expected to perform.
- Do you get along?
You will hopefully be spending a lot of time with your trainer, so you want to find someone who you can talk to easily. Laughing while working out makes it go by faster and maybe it even burns more calories! If you don't feel a connection with your trainer after your first few sessions, it may be time to look for a new one. It's just like dating--sometimes you hit it out of the park on your first date, sometimes not, but you usually know by date 3 if it's going to go somewhere. Go with your gut.
There are more things to consider once you have met with the trainer and had a few sessions, but for now, these four tips should help you get through the first session or two. Happy hunting!