Whether you’re a novice in the gym or you’re looking to switch up your routine and bust through plateaus, hiring a personal trainer can be a great way to learn more about your body and the movements that can improve its appearance and boost its performance. However, all trainers are not created equally, and there is a troubling number of fitness professionals out there that simply don’t have the knowledge and skills to safely and effectively get you the results you’re after.
How do you wade through the sea of phonies and mismatches to find the trainer for you? Let’s take a look at the five essential questions to ask a trainer before you consider hiring them.
Are they certified?
There are a handful of gyms and studios out there that put their trainers through an in-house program instead of requiring certification via one of the accepted organizations. While an in-house program may provide a solid knowledge base of a certain style of training or set of exercises, a certification shows that your trainer has an in-depth understanding of how the body works and has a fundamental knowledge of a wide array of training principles.
What’s their specialty?
If your trainer is certified, there’s a good chance they also have a specialization or target area of training. Some trainers specialize in weight loss or bodybuilding, while others specialize in athletic performance and powerlifting. Trainers in any specialization will still likely be able to help you reach your goals, but aligning these goals with a trainer’s specialization will help you get results even faster.
What’s their training style?
Every trainer has a distinct style of training that can incorporate an almost infinite amount of factors. Methodologies used, preferred equipment, coaching style – all of these things and more can change drastically from trainer-to-trainer. If you’re someone who really needs to be pushed in the gym to hit PRs and push out those last few reps, hiring a soft-spoken trainer probably isn’t going to do you any favors.
How long have they been training?
This factor is far from make-or-break, but more experienced trainers have seen what works for their clients and are generally more adept at coaching. However, there are brilliant new trainers that are bursting with knowledge and long-tenured fitness professionals that don’t know a deltoid from a rhomboid, so take experience with a grain of salt.
How do they usually work out?
This question may seem neither here nor there, but it’s actually an important factor in choosing your trainer. Do you have exercises that you really love and exercises you really hate? Trainers do too. But because they’ve been exposed to more exercises, methodologies, pieces of equipment and techniques, trainers have a longer list of biases that will affect their training style and the methodologies they choose to employ when training you. If you hire a trainer that’s a tried-and-true crossfit enthusiast but you haven’t quite swallowed the pill, it can lead to a tedious amount of tweaking to keep out the burpees, kettlebell snatches, and kipping pull-ups.