Hiring a personal trainer is a big decision to make. It can be a big investment, both in terms of time and finances, and it can be a little scary to finally hold yourself accountable to those fitness goals you keep talking about!
Once you’ve decided to take the leap, you’ll soon discover there’s no shortage of trainers to choose from. This can be both awesome and overwhelming at the same time. To make sure your first experience with a personal trainer is as positive as possible, here are a few things to look for.
This may seem like it goes without saying, but you’d be surprised at how unregulated the fitness industry actually is. These days it’s easy to put together a website so you can advertise offline and online services, and the majority of unqualified trainers get by without ever being detected.
The rise in various at-home fitness products has also seen a rise in “fitness and health coaches”, well-intentioned but unqualified (and often uninsured) individuals offering training and nutrition advice. It’s always best to ask your potential trainer where they got their certification from and whether or not they’re insured (they should be).
All of that being said, the certification itself is just the tip of the iceberg. Some certifications require hours of hands-on practical experience before that coveted piece of paper is passed on and yearly continuing education afterwards, whereas others only require a multiple choice exam done online.
What an individual chooses to do with that certification also matters. Nothing’s to say the trainer who’s required to keep up on their continuing education credits will go above and beyond to ensure their clients stay happy and safe, and nothing is stopping the trainer who passed a simple multiple choice exam to further their education through different avenues. Which is why there are other things to look out for as well!
Experience In Your Area Of Interest
Many trainers are experienced in helping someone get into a consistent exercise routine and improve their overall health, but if you have specific goals you’re working towards, make sure your trainer has experience in that area.
For example, if you want to run your first marathon injury-free, you’ll need a trainer who can put together a marathon training program and will understand the unique demands that need to be addressed through strength training. Hiring a trainer who specializes in bodybuilding and thinks running is stupid probably isn’t your best bet.
Similarly, hiring a marathon coach to get you through your first physique competition may leave you with a less-than-stellar experience.
It’s a good idea to hire a trainer that moves well, but that’s not what I’m talking about here.
If you have a busy and unpredictable schedule, it’s important to find a trainer who’s willing to accommodate that. Most trainers have pre-determined cancellation fees, but it wouldn’t hurt to find out if your potential trainer has the flexibility (and willingness) to reschedule your appointments from time to time or to change your weekly meeting time as your schedule changes.
Not all trainers do this (and they don’t necessarily have to), but if you have a schedule that’s constantly changing, it’s important to make your trainer aware of that and to come to an agreement that works for both parties.
It’s not hard to reviews for your potential trainer these days. Yelp and Facebook both offer the option for clients to leave unbiased reviews, and trainers will usually share testimonials on their website. If you see a variety of reviews and testimonials from a variety of clients, you’ve likely got a good candidate.
That Thing That Makes You “Click”
And finally, listen to your gut.
Maybe upon meeting for the first time you notice your potential trainer has really positive energy. Maybe he uses colourful language which instantly makes you feel like you can be yourself. Maybe she makes a reference to your favourite nerdy movie. Things like this could be the icing on the cake to show you you’re making the right decision.
And if you walk away from your first meeting or phone call feeling good and excited about what the future has in store, you’ve probably found your new trainer.
Ariana is a personal trainer, blogger, triathlete, and self love advocate living in Vancouver BC. After years of alcohol abuse and negative self talk from anxiety and low self-esteem, Ariana turned her life around by making her health a priority and improving her relationship with herself. It's now her mission to help other women struggling in self-defeating patterns become their happiest, healthiest, most confident selves. When she's not training clients, writing, or prepping for triathlons, Ariana can be found scouring the city in search of great coffee.