Personal training is one of the fastest growing industries. Today more than ever people are more concerned about their health, quality of life, and how they look. Studies have shown that people who work with a trainer are more likely to keep up their workout routine and reach their goals. Personal training is also a very big financial and time commitment not to mention all the effort that is required.
Finding the right personal trainer can be the difference between success and failure for the client. The problem is that when most people begin to look for the right personal trainer they often do not know what to look for and what questions to ask. For people who have been in the industry for a while it is easy to spot what to look for. The prices and skill from trainer to trainer can vary greatly, and since there is no governing body anyone can put up an ad and call themselves a personal trainer.
Here I will go over some questions you should ask when you are looking to hire a personal trainer:
1. What Is Their Education?
What is their education? Do they have a relevant degree? What about extra certifications and internships/workshops? Do they do continuing education?
Do they have a degree in Kinesiology, Sports Sciences, etc.? This is always a good indicator and does say certain things about the person. You will know that they do have basic knowledge of the body, movement, and exercise. They will know anatomy and human physiology as well as biomechanics.
Also, they have the drive and commitment to actually finish a degree. However I should state that there are trainers that have degrees who are not very good and there are trainers without degrees that are good. However if it was me looking for one I would opt to go for the person who does have the degree.
Do they have extra certifications, or have attended internships/workshops? In my personal experience this is one of the most important things that separates the good from the bad. I know from personal experience that I have learned more practical knowledge from my internships with top trainers than I did in my whole university degree. These internships were not cheap but were definitely worth it in the end. Think of it this way. Most degrees and certifications are learned through books. However, once you get to these internships you do a lot of hands on training and learning from top guys around the world. Not only do they show you the right way of doing things, they also teach you shortcuts based on their experience. I would definitely make sure that the trainer you have has attended some of these. Keep in mind that there are better certifications and internships than others. I however will not mention who they are. I have been to great ones and bad ones myself personally.
Continuing education is good as well as studies and information is always changing. Also continually learning in this industry separates the good from the bad. Most good trainers spend many hours a week continuing to learn.
2. What Is Their Experience?
How long have they been training for? How many different clients have they trained? They say it takes 10,000 hours of doing something to be called an expert. All the degrees, internships, and certifications can only teach you so much. There is an element to working with many different types of people that has to be learned through experience. I know even after the 10000 hours you still pick up on little things here and there. It is just much less frequent than in the beginning. Not only in regards to exercise, but also dealing with people and the psychology of many different types of people.
3. How Long Have They Been In Business?
Usually people who have been in business for a long time are doing something right. However I should say that there are people who have been in business for a long time that are not that good. Also, people do have to start somewhere and I have seen people new to the industry that are very sharp. This is something to consider.
4. Do They Have Good Testimonials?
Do they have good testimonials? Do they have good pictures of their results? Are people willing to vouch for them personally? There is one thing I am seeing a lot of is the use of before and after pictures without the person’s face. I do question the authenticity as these are easy to rip off of the internet and people will do that. I am not saying that they are all fake, but definitely some are very questionable. This is why I will only put full picture testimonials on my site.
Also another big one is before and after pictures of people that have used steroids while promoting that they did it all naturally. This gives the average person unreasonably high expectations and is a very underhanded trick. Steroids are very powerful and you can get a person who is taking them very good results, even if they do not know what they are doing. Watch for this. The usual tell-tell signs are getting a person very lean, muscular and vascular(veins showing) in a short period of time. Usually if the person is very muscular, lean and has a lot of veins that you can see(skin looks super thin and tight) then usually they are on some sort of performance enhancing drugs.
5. Do They Have References?
Do they have any current or past clients that you can talk to? Even if the trainer is not being truthful it is highly unlikely that someone else will lie to put them in a good light. Also, you can dig deeper into that person’s own personal experience to give you a better picture of what you can expect. If you are going to ask for references ask for more than one. I should say that it is obvious that a trainer will not give you the name of a person who they think will give them a bad review, however you would be surprised at how honest people will be once you get them on the phone.
6. How Do They Look?
I believe that trainers should practice what they preach. I am not saying that they have to look like they are about to walk on a bodybuilding stage, but they should not be overweight and have some sort of muscle- they should look like they workout.
Too many times I have seen overweight trainers that are showing other people how to lose weight. In fact the trainer is more overweight than the client! I have also seen trainers that look like they haven’t lifted a weight in 10 years.
I should say that there are some very good trainers who don’t follow this rule but I don’t know it just seems wrong to me. Unless the trainer is a powerlifter/strength athlete where the extra body fat is an advantage then they should be fairly lean. Especially if they are going to be helping people with weight loss.
7. Are They Passionate About Health And Fitness?
This kind of ties a lot of the previous questions together. If they are passionate you will know they enjoy what they do and will do everything they can to help you. They will have studied and continue to learn, they will look the part, etc. Usually these people will have had an interest from a very young age that never dies out. Do you want to work with someone who doesn’t enjoy what they are doing?
8. What Is Their Style Of Training?
Trainers will have different beliefs and styles of training. Some will do a lot more cardio. Some will focus on weights. Some will even focus more on talking…you get the picture. What you will want to do is figure out what you really feel like doing and what kind of results you want.
If you want to gain muscle, strength, and tone then you will definitely need a program with a lot of weight training. If you someday want to run a marathon you will want someone who focuses a lot on cardiovascular training.
Also some trainers will be more authoritative, less forgiving and “my way or the highway” attitude. It is not good or bad. Some people will like this and others will not. It is all personal preference.
9. Is Their Personality A Good Match?
Since you will be spending a lot of time together it is better to actually work with someone that get along with and like. I should say from past experience most people will get along just fine but once in a while you end up with someone and it just doesn’t work. You can tell a lot over the phone but this one you will be able to tell after the first few sessions for sure.
10. Do They Get Results?
They should have a system in place that is able to get you the results that you want. They should be able to repeat these results over and over. If they haven’t got the results you want with past clients, then it is highly unlikely that they will get results with you. This is where you check out the testimonials and references. Too many times I see people training with trainers- sometimes for very long periods of time without making any progress.
That is it! Go through this list when looking at hiring a trainer and don’t be afraid to ask these questions. If the answers are not good, vague, or they cannot back them up then I would highly recommend looking elsewhere.