7 Tips on Picking a Personal Trainer

So you read all of these articles online about how to lose weight, how to get fit, new years resolutions and the such. You go into the gym and you’re attacked by all of these people coming up to you introducing themselves to you so they can become your personal trainer… and all you want to do is just get a workout in.

But maybe one of these people could help you… just maybe.

This happened to me today. Someone the size of one of my snacks (who I doubt had lifted weights in their life) came up to me and asked me if I was looking for a personal trainer. I was confused at first. My arms were bro-veining out, sweat was dripping down me, my form was pretty perfect for the exercise I was doing… and sure — I’m in a “bulk” phase and not rocking a 6pack, but far from looking like I NEED a trainer. So I kindly talked with her and explained my goals and that I already had the best coach in the world (clearly not biased) and wished her good luck!

But then I saw her keep doing this to people around the gym and it made the Personal Trainer inside my die a little bit.

So I gave her some slack and decided to write a post on the 7 Steps to picking your PERFECT personal trainer… for YOU! With the holidays upon us and new years resolutions right around the corner — now’s the time YOU should start stalking out which lucky Personal Trainer you’re going to pick for next year to help get some of your goals accomplished.

I have collected loads of fitness certifications myself over the years … one of them being an ACE Personal Trainer myself. A lot of the tips below we are tested on to get our PT certifications as well as things I’ve picked up on over the years of spending thousands of dollars on personal trainers myself.

  1. The Personal Trainer to-be should have a body type you’d like someday. Be realistic. When answering this. You’re not going to grow in height or gain/lose cup sizes; but do they have the arms you want, legs you want, butt you want? The SINGLE MOST important thing we’re taught as Personal Trainers is rapport. We are taught to look FIT. This is how we are judged. So if the person you’re working with clearly does NOT do leg day but favours arm/chest day, has no end in sight of getting rid of those weekend wing and beers…and daily icecream belly, can’t stand up straight and are rocking a massive computer/caveman hunch… or just doesn’t look like they know how to train themselves — they probably aren’t the right person for you. You want a well balanced trainer — someone who knows their body well enough to get their bodies to look like a sales pitch to you!
  2. The Personal Trainer to-be should have a client base of people who have a similar lifestyle as you. If you work at a desk all day, sometimes on weekends and sometimes at nights and your personal trainer doesn’t have a client base that they cater to like this, they’re not going to have as many tricks up their sleeves to help keep you motivated (and YES! keeping you motivated is part of their job!). Don’t worry — there are personal trainers who cater towards MANY different life styles…but just don’t expect someone who caters towards “stay at home parents” and only trains between the hours of 10am and 2pm to be able to fit your life if you’re a travelling business executive. While you may adore them, this may not be the right fit for YOU.
  3. Make sure the Personal Trainer to-be works with other people of similar fitness goals to yourself. Everyone has different fitness goals. Sometimes it’s leaning out, sometimes it’s making that booty as high as the sky, sometimes it’s levelling up that cardio. Whatever it is, there is a niche personal trainer for you (you know… just how there are people that cater towards cutting curly hair, or men’s hair, or kids hair!). This is a huge one for me. As a professional athlete myself for over 10 years, I’ve worked with many trainers before who haven’t trained pro athletes. They’re wonderful trainers and great people, but when it comes to the pro athlete mindset, we think differently and need different workouts. So for me to find a trainer that worked with pro athletes, it took a LONG time. But it was SO much worth the wait! If you’ve never been to the gym before, make sure that you work with someone who works with gym newcomers. There are some AMAZING trainers out there who cater towards these awesome people coming to the gym for the first time…and some that don’t work so well with them (I listen to conversations in the locker room about this about people complaining about certain trainers who just don’t work well with them.) Find someone for you…they’re waiting 🙂
  4. Stalk the Personal Trainer to-be before you sign up. If you have your free training session with them and aren’t really sure about everything, don’t sign up! Sure they’re going to FORCE you and offer you a deal “they’ve offered no one before”, which is their job. But it’s ok to stalk them out before you say “yes” and hand over thousands of dollars. If they lead fitness classes, attend a couple first to see how they are. Are they energetic whenever the class is dying? Are they making sure your form is on point? Are they doing the workout with you? Outside of fitness classes, spy on how they train other people. Are they on free weights all the time? Are they on the machines all the time? Are they doing things you have NO idea what they’re doing because they’re using all sorts of cables and bands and who knows what that squishy round thing is called? General rule of thumb is to steer away from people using machines, and go towards trainers using all of the crazy equipment. You can do machines yourself. They have photos and tell you what to do … what you can’t do is figure out all of these crazy moves the trainers are doing. And turns out that while machines build the BIG muscles, the crazy squishy discs and ropes and cables build a lot of muscles in your body that will help stabilise your spine for many…MANY years in the future.
  5. The Personal Trainer to-be doesn’t have to be the “employee of the month.” I’ve has the range of trainers… the n00b trainers, the owners, the employees of month, the ones in between. It doesn’t matter their employee status if they fit what you’re looking for. You don’t get employee of the month at your company every month and I’m sure you produce amazing work. Same is at the gym. Ignore corporate politics — you’re there for you and your body.
  6. The Personal Trainer to-be shouldn’t be flirting/distracted with other people in the gym when they’re working with you. You know what’s up…you’re paying a SHINY penny to get your butt in shape and you’re not paying for Franzie to go flex for the girls with the nice makeup and sports tops in the corner. Franzie is there to make sure you do EVERY rep with perfect form and to make sure you don’t hurt yourself. He can go flex later for the girls in the corner …because they’ll still be taking selfies. If you notice a trainer you want to work with continually being distracted.. they may not be a good fit for you. Unless you only want part of their attention for ALL of the price!
  7. All fitness certifications are not equal. You’d think they are..right? But nope. They’re not. There’s Personal Trainer certifications you can get in a weekend, some that take a month, some that take a year. They are not ALL EQUAL. SO do some research. If you find a trainer that has more than one certification .. this means they’ll have more skills up their belt to help you out! It would do you lightyears of knowledge to get a list of the different certifications the trainers have at your gym and find one that fits you best. The institution that I got certified from focuses on functional training (meaning stuff that will help PREVENT injury, crazy exercises with squishy equipment, broomsticks and stretchy bands) that will help lead you into a healthy old-age-life. There is also a 40% first time pass rate on the exam for the one I took. It’s a bit prestigious and they are know for being one of the best. Find a trainer who wants to be the best, and they’ll help make you the best.

So while these 7 tips to finding the personal trainer may not lead you to the perfect one at the first try, that’s ok … keep trying! Your health is worth the wait & trial/error process! I find having a trainer to keep me motivated, it gives me a sense of accountability and also someone to check in with on those days to tell me “good job” whenever I set a new record on my squats … or to comment on how well my pecs are grown.

But just don’t settle for the first trainer that comes to you. You inspect those apples that you buy and those are only about $1 each. Why not ULTRA inspect that personal trainer that is going to cost you at least 75 times that amount :).


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