The question of how to find a good personal trainer is as old as the industry itself. In fact, it usually gets transformed into an even bigger question - should you even HIRE a personal trainer? Conveniently enough, the answer to one of those questions will dictate the answer to the other one - every time!
The short and simple truth of the matter is that you should only hire a personal trainer if you can find an effective one that is right for you. Here are several things to consider before you decide!
The term professionalism should cover our prospective trainer's skills, as well as his/her ability to act in a professional manner. Both are critical to the training process, and if a trainer is lacking in either department, it will spell doom for your program eventually, either in the short term, or later on down the road.
The days of personal trainers just being jocks with a certification are (thankfully!) coming to a close. Today's personal trainer needs to be a consummate professional with regard to his/her actual skills, as well as ability to treat their clients in a professional and business-like manner.
For now let's just agree that if your trainer doesn't have a clue about how to get you in shape, you probably don't want to hire that trainer!
What about their level of professionalism? A good personal trainer will always maintain their professional bearing. They don't need to be some stick in the mud with no personality, but there are several things that a trainer should NOT be doing during a training session. These include things like staring at themselves in the mirror, daydreaming, excessively talking to other people, talking on their cell phone, checking out members of the opposite sex, and just generally not focusing on you during the workout.
Your trainer should look professional as well. Although the actual clothing standards vary widely, some things that you should not see are excessive body jewelry, the latest fashions such as arm bands, beanie caps, combat boots, etc., or any clothing or accessories that are worn simply as decoration or because the style is in. The latest styles have absolutely nothing to do with your training program!
Which level of personal training certification is the best has been and continues to be a matter of extreme debate. This article will not propagate that debate with further discussion of the details. However, what you should take home is the fact that regardless of your fitness goals, your trainer should be qualified to train YOU.
For general health and fitness, any of the top 10 nationwide certification agencies offer acceptable programs. A brief list includes - but is not limited to - the International Sports Sciences Association, the American Council on Exercise, and the National Academy of Sports Medicine. There are others, and your trainer should be more than happy to point you to the website that governs his or certification, so that you can learn more on your own.
For more specific considerations like training for a sport or athletic competition, your trainer will need a higher degree of expertise. The American College of Sports Medicine has a great program and is one of the most recognized certifications for sport specific training.
You should ask very specific questions about how a potential trainer is going to tackle the particular issues that you want covered during your training program.
Regardless of your potential trainer's credentials and professionalism, you need to know where you are going to train. The industry standard of only working out at a gym is being challenged more and more these days. It is possible now to find a trainer who will come right to your house and train you, or possibly meet you outside, or in your housing area community fitness center. Don't fall into the trap of thinking that you have to go to the gym if you want a personal trainer!
One of the biggest issues for trainers and clients alike is scheduling. After all, you both have to be in the same place at the same time for a minimum of 30 minutes, and possibly as long as 90 minutes. A good trainer will try to find a way to fit you into their schedule. It won't always be possible, especially with a highly sought after trainer, but if the trainer truly wants to help you, they will do their best to fit you in.
Having a good rapport with your personal trainer is crucial! If you and your trainer don't get along, it's a waste of time for both of you. You will likely end up more frustrated than ever, thinking that even a professional couldn't help you!
Working with a personal trainer that you like is necessary, and on the flip side, the trainer should like you as well. You don't necessarily need to pick out curtains together, but you should at least be able to carry on a comfortable dialogue while you exercise. Most good trainers are good communicators as well, but if the two of you aren't very comfortable with each other, then it will cause tension and increase the risk of your program meeting with failure.
A good personal trainer will agree to meet with you face to face before you actually sign up for a training program. Some trainers offer a free or low-cost initial consultation, and that is the perfect time to size up your trainer to make sure they fit your needs!
You should take home the fact that the definition of a good personal trainer is someone who is not only a professional, but is also appropriate for your specific personality, needs, goals, and desires. You may be working with this person for awhile, so choose wisely!