Beginner Exerciser Series: Choosing the Right Trainer
Jun 21, 2021
Last week we talked about goals, and hopefully you’ve thought of some goals that are SMART - Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant, and Timely. Today we’re going to be focusing on finding the right trainer or gym for you to meet and exceed these goals.
You might be saying that you don’t need a trainer, but think about it this way. Trainers are there, sure, to give you a good workout, but also to make sure you’re working safely and effectively. They’re also there for accountability. Many people try to “make it on their own” and it really takes the right person to be successful at that. At least when starting out, I really recommend having a trainer, ideally in person, to make sure that you’re doing the right exercises the right way. You don’t want to jump into a program you found online and hurt yourself because it wasn’t the right program for you or you’re not doing things correctly.
Several factors go into finding the right trainer or facility for you.
I would recommend first thinking about what type of facility you’re looking for. Some are larger, and you’ll be working out usually in a common space with other exercisers. Pros of these facilities are usually their lower price point, and cons include the lack of privacy and sometimes, lack of good trainers. Some facilities, like Fitness Together, are smaller, usually styled as a more “boutique” gym. These facilities are more private, as there are no exercisers there who are not doing personal training, and you will have your own private space. These places also tend to have higher expectations of their trainers: it’s harder to get a job at these places as they require more experience, and have a more comprehensive onboarding program.
Another benefit of smaller studios, although some big places have this as well, is their program. What you don’t want is to just purchase a set of however many sessions without first talking to the trainer about your goals, injuries, etc. How can a trainer get you where you want to go if they don’t know where that is? At Fitness Together, after your first intro session, we send you home with goal sheets, where we ask you to write out goals for yourself. At your next session, we take part of the time to discuss those, help you with them if need be, and make a plan for you. This includes our workouts in the gym together, and also a home program that we ask you to do on your own. That way our workouts aren’t random, each workout and each exercise is meant to help you get to your goals.
You also want to consider location. It’s important that the facility is convenient to you. Think about how far you’re willing to drive and where you usually go. Most people try to find a facility that’s close to their home or work. If the place you chose isn’t convenient to you, you won’t go.
Reviews may also be important to you, and you can check out places like Yelp and Facebook for those. Looking at the business’s social media will also give you a sense of the place as well.
First thing to consider when it comes to picking a trainer is credentials. All facilities should make their trainers experience and credentials available to you. If they don’t, ask. If you get any kind of round about answer, consider that a red flag. Ours are on our website under “Meet the Trainers'' and also located on the wall by the warm up space (with the cardio equipment). You should be able to easily find where they got their Personal Trainer certification from. It’s usually a 3-4 letter acronym. All accredited certifications are great, and all require recertification (with completion of CEUs, continuing education units) every 2-3 years, but some have different focuses. Some examples:
ACE - American Council on Exercise
ACE is actually a San Diego company, so it’s very popular here and slightly less popular elsewhere. It’s focus is more on behavior change and coaching strategies. It’s known as a more “Basic” certification, which isn’t necessarily a bad thing.
NASM - National Academy of Sports Medicine
This is one of the most highly respected certifications. It’s focus is on corrective exercise, and creating well rounded training plans, and it’s known to be more of a “sciency” certification, which appeals to some trainers and clients, and not to others. This is who my certification is through, and I have a science background, so this appeals to me and to the majority of my clients.
ISSA - International Sports Sciences Association
ISSA is an international certification, and has an additional focus of nutrition, which the others generally do not.
NFPT - National Federation of Personal Trainers
ACSM - American College of Sports Medicine
Beyond these basic CPT (Certified Personal Trainer) certifications, many trainers will go beyond and get specialized certifications, such as CNC (Certified Nutrition Coach), CES (Corrective Exercise Specialist), PES (Performance Enhancement Specialist), SFS (Senior Fitness Specialist) and many more. Trainers can also specialize in specific equipment, like TRX, Kettlebells, or specific machines. Some of our trainers also have Bachelors Degrees in related fields, such as Kinesiology or Exercise Physiology.
While these certifications do matter, and you want a trainer with at least one certification, experience matters as well. A lot of personal training is learned through experience.
Next, you want to make sure this is a trainer you can connect with. Do you prefer someone in your own gender or age group? Keep in mind, just because someone is not in your gender or age group does not mean they don’t have knowledge of what may be going on. If you were going through treatment for diabetes, you wouldn’t need your nutritionist to be diabetic to be a good nutritionist, right? However, choose someone you are comfortable with.
Some trainers are loud and boisterous, some are more quiet. What you do want is a trainer who’s loud and confident enough to correct your mistakes. Don’t be hurt or take it personally when they correct you - isn’t that what you’re there for?
Once you’ve found a facility or trainer you think you may connect with, you can usually try out a first free session. We offer a complimentary intro session for you to try us out before you commit. After that, our smallest package, unless we’re running a special, is 18 sessions. You might think this is a large commitment, but in reality, it usually works out to around 2 months of training. It took you longer to develop your current habits, why would you expect to change them in less than 2 months? With payment options available, we recommend our clients commit to at least 4 months of training, if not more. After that amount of time you’ll be able to see and feel changes, and you can decide if this is the correct plan for you.
Hopefully this has been helpful for you, and you feel inspired to try out a personal training program! We are always offering our first session free, so feel free to message us on Facebook or Instagram or comment here, and we will reach out to get you scheduled. You can also take a look at our website and see our trainer bios to find one you think may be a good fit for you. If you are not in town or choose a different facility, I wish you the best and I hope these tips were helpful to you!