We've all heard horror stories. Your friend's mom. Your mom's friend. Maybe even a personal experience. They have one thing in common: they encountered the scariest thing at the gym this side of the towel bin, the unprofessional personal trainer. And with so many fitness centers and gyms to choose from, you are bound to run into an inept personal trainer at some point. So we've put together a list of five criteria to look for in your fitness coach.
You don't have a degree in exercise science, and you don't need one. That's one of the reasons you're hiring your trainer in the first place. Make sure he or she is certified to be doing so. Your trainer should be able to furnish their credentials readily and they should come from a recognized body of exercise science, such as NASM or ACE. There are several other licensing bodies. The industry standard, however, is shifting more towards advanced degrees in the science of exercise, so the more your trainer knows, the better.
2. Too Much Attention
One of the main reason we hire a trainer is to motivate us while helping support us in our quest to achieve fitness goals. A compliment here and there can be helpful to boost your confidence in the gym and should be expected from a great personal trainer. However, you should not be subjected to ogling, lewd comments, or especially advances of a sexual nature. Your trainer should be there to make you work, not flirt with you the whole time.
3. Bored to Death
One of the best reasons to hire a personal trainer is that it eliminates a lot of the work on your end: you simply show up and work out. You're paying for your trainer to design a unique, challenging, and creative plan to help you achieve your specific fitness goals. These workouts should not only push your body, but they should be fun too! Your trainer shouldn't be giving you a cookie cutter workout that ignores what you want to accomplish. Check out some of his or her other clients. Anything oddly familiar? If so, your trainer isn't really giving you the personal service you deserve, or worse, they aren't as knowledgeable as they appear.
4. Time = Money
Your time, as well as your trainer's, is valuable. So valuable that you pay your hard-earned dollars for your trainer to advise you on your fitness goals. So if you pay for a full hour, you should get one. If your trainer is constantly late or always cutting your sessions short, you aren't getting your money's worth. You should have their full and undivided attention when they're working with you.
5. Building Rapport
The entire trainer/client relationship is built on one key term: personal. Every good trainer should be willing to build a personal rapport with you before, during, and after you have hired them as a personal trainer. You are your own best judge of character, so ultimately choosing the right personal trainer comes down to you. You should also not feel intimidated picking their brain or asking for a free trial to "try before you buy." If your potential trainer is standoffish or insists you pay before a trial, this should count as a red flag.
Ryan Barnhart, MS, PES, is a certified Performance Enhancement
and Injury Prevention Specialist through the National Academy of Sports
Medicine (NASM). He also holds a master's degree in exercise science, as
well as a bachelor of sport management, both from California University
of Pennsylvania. Ryan has worked with numerous collegiate and amateur
athletes across many different fields. Ryan also has had the opportunity
to work with several professional athletes. Recently he has worked with
amateur and professional athletes within the emerging sport of Mixed
Ryan is currently the director of fitness at a 700+ member gym near Pittsburgh, PA. He enjoys working with weekend warriors, athletes, and everyone in between. You can contact Ryan at firstname.lastname@example.org.