This is a big decision! Choosing the best personal trainer for you is ...well, personal. To get the most from your one-on-one or small group personal training sessions and the program your trainer creates for you, it’s essential to know what to ask and how to decipher whether your trainer is a good fit for you before you commit to a program with him or her. Start with this guide to the three most important things to ask before embarking on a fitness path with a new personal trainer.
This is not so much about which certifications the trainer holds as it is about making sure they’re certified by a nationally recognized organization. You should ask to see their certificate and look for acronyms including any of the following:
NSCA – National Strength & Conditioning Association
ACSM – American College of Sports Medicine
NASM – National Academy of Sports Medicine
ACE – American Council on Exercise
ISSA – International Sports Sciences Association
Why you want a personal trainer
If your biggest reason for seeking out a trainer is to get the results you haven’t been able to achieve on your own, ask the trainer questions about how he or she will push you safely to improve your health and fitness condition.
Do you mainly need someone to hold you accountable? “This is one of the biggest reasons people go to personal trainers,” says Wes Greer, owner/operator of 2 Fitness Together locations. Ask the trainer about the most challenging experiences he or she has had with “slackers” or clients who lose their motivation, and listen for insight into how they handle difficult, emotionally charged situations.
Be brutally honest with yourself here. Picture how you’ll feel and act when challenged or outside your comfort zone, and think about the communication styles you respond to best in that sort of situation.
Some people like the in-your-face yelling and screaming style and find it motivating, while others thrive more on positive reinforcement or a trainer who’s just super energetic and excited that they’re there.
If you have a very negative idea of what exercise is all about that’s a very different perspective from someone coming in and saying, ‘I want you to kick my butt.’ A personal trainer needs to know when to be nurturing, when to be tough, when to listen — and mold his or her approach to the personality of each individual client.
Whether they have practical experience with your situation
Ask the trainer how they’ve helped other people with the same type of injury, health condition or other special situation you’re in. While training and certifications are important, experience with your situation will help your trainer better tailor your workout to meet your unique needs. For example, they may need to modify certain types of exercises to protect and strengthen a traumatized or vulnerable area of your body, or take a heart condition into account when structuring your cardio regimen.
It’s about the trainer’s practical knowledge. If you have a knee issue, make sure the trainer has the knowledge to help you protect that knee.
What kind of nutrition training does the trainer have?
Look for a trainer who’s received instruction from a credentialed nutritionist in strategies to help clients improve their eating habits.
Multiple studies show that including dietary change in a weight loss program can produce two to three times greater weight loss than programs focused on exercise alone. Bonus: the same studies also show that changes in one’s diet or exercise habits can help promote changes in the other, especially among women.
Look for a package deal that includes both fitness coaching and nutritional guidelines tailored specifically for you, and you’re far more likely to achieve your goals.
Need new motivation and better results? We specialize in developing GREAT trainers and matching them to your specific goals, preferences and priorities. Every Fitness Together trainer is nationally certified first, then completes our rigorous proprietary certification program that focuses on practical knowledge, client interaction and presence.
Every trainer also completes Nutrition Together training with a registered dietitian, and our personal training programs include a customized eating plan to help you maximize the benefit of your workout program. Ask us anytime about a free, no-obligation consultation and see the difference Fitness Together's one-on-one and small group personal training approach can make for you. Find a Fitness Together studio near you today!