What it’s Really Like to Hire a Personal Trainer

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by Liz Bowen

If you’re one of the millions of people that can benefit from a personal trainer, you may have a false idea about hiring them based on what you see in the media. The reality is that almost anyone can hire a personal trainer that can help them reach their fitness goals in an affordable and safe way. Here is the lowdown on what that process should look like.

Today’s reality television landscape has done a great disservice to the role of the personal trainer in many ways. Personal trainers in the real world are nothing like what you may have seen on “The Biggest Loser” or in media reports that make it look like they are only for the rich and famous. By following some basic guidelines, it can be easier than you think to hire a personal trainer that fits your health needs as well as your budget.

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Shopping for a personal trainer online can be intimidating with all of the choices, so if you belong to a gym that you trust, ask for recommendations from gym personnel and other members. The best gyms have personal trainers that they work with but don’t let a sales pitch determine your choice. Talk to friends and family members as well to get some ideas.

Once you’ve narrowed your search, you need to do an in-person interview and have a series of questions prepared in advance. The prospective trainer’s flexibility in setting a meeting is your first clue to what they are about. If they can’t easily accommodate your schedule, they may be too busy or the wrong fit in terms of personality.

Once the interview begins, your prepared questions provide the next set of valuable clues to determining if they are right for you. When you begin seriously contacting potential trainers, begin by asking about their credentials such as certifications and make sure those certifications are current. Ask how many years of professional experience they have as well as any specialty certifications that they have obtained. You should make sure that the trainer you want to hire carries professional liability insurance as well.

You’ll need to have specific fees, payment options, and cancellation policies clearly spelled out and in writing. Hours of availability are next and they should be able to accommodate your schedule.

You should have clear ideas on what your short-term and long-term goals are. This is also the time to find out if you feel comfortable with the trainer. Communication with your personal trainer is paramount so they should listen to you and then respond. Be sure to let them talk as well as this will tell you a lot about them and their personality.

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Even the most elite personal trainers are pretty much just average people with a strong skill set and devotion to physical fitness. That’s why it’s important to make sure that their personality is compatible with yours so that your choice is the right one. You also need to keep in mind that real trainers don’t need to be aggressive like a drill sergeant to get you motivated nor do they have to be too lenient. Motivation from real trainers comes from knowing who you are and what it is that you want so that they can create a positive atmosphere that helps you push yourself. In this collaborative relationship that means that you have to bring some level of self-discipline to the table to get the results you desire.

If you have a specific medical condition the trainer should have verifiable expertise in working with clients with that same condition. Additionally, he or she should be willing to communicate with your health care provider after obtaining your consent to discuss exercise guidelines and contraindications with them. In the real world of personal trainers, safety always comes first, so they should be ready to ask your physician for their medical clearance based on the fitness plan they develop for you.

Unless a certified trainer has had extensive education on nutrition and specializes in this area, you shouldn’t expect them to go beyond the basics of good nutrition. This is especially true if you have any underlying health conditions. This goes back to having an open dialog between your physician, your trainer and you so that your assured that everything will be in your best health interest.

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When you’ve narrowed the choices, the trainer should have you fill out an Initial Fitness Assessment in order to begin developing your personal fitness plan. The trainer should write down all the exercises you will be doing, how many reps and how many minutes you will have to do each one, how many days per week, etc., as well as what you should be doing at home or at the gym on a daily basis.

Ask what tools they use to track your exact workout and targeted goals as well as for taking regular body and fitness measurements. There are many apps that can help, and the chart or app should be used every time you work out – with or without your trainer. These numbers should be reviewed at least every four weeks.

While your personal trainer has other clients and a life of their own, they should be available to answer questions by email throughout the duration of your professional relationship with them. It may not be unreasonable to contact them a couple of times each month, but more than that may reveal a communication problem.

Unlike what you may have seen in the media, a personal trainer is a professional partner that helps you to attain the health and fitness goals that you set for yourself. A compatible personality is just as important as their credentials and methodology when hiring them. Just keep in mind these are the basics of any good personal trainer, which makes it a realistic endeavor for anyone who wants support in attaining their health goals.

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