Being a personal trainer is one of the fastest growing careers on the planet. Which isn’t surprising, given our obsession with fitness and weight loss. I was certified at one point in time and lasted about six months with that career. My discovery was that people are whiny, cry babies. They complain a lot. And they don’t really want to work that hard. They want a six-pack, but are not willing to do the work that it takes to obtain it. I found the job way more frustrating than rewarding and chose to move in a different direction.
I mention my situation only to give you some context of how personal trainers may feel. If you’re going to spend the money, you need to spend the effort. I personally love having a trainer. It’s an expense that I can’t always afford, but I’ve had several of them at different points in my life, and genuinely miss it when I’m not working with someone.
There are so many really great reasons to hire a trainer.
You need his/her expertise to compete in a sporting event
This is the reason I hired my first trainer. I saw a fitness competition on television and thought, “I can totally do that.” I knew the routine portion would be no problem, but the nutrition and training were another story. Similarly, when I decided to race triathlons, I enrolled in a five-day triathlon camp in Florida. It was amazing. My coach was a pro triathlete and we spent five days learning every detail of training, racing, nutrition, gear and recovery. Such an invaluable experience.
Lack of motivation
We all get in ruts. It’s bound to happen at some point. I’ve experienced this several times throughout my life. You go the gym and you do a workout, but you don’t actually want to be there. The energy just isn’t there. And you find yourself missing more workouts than you should and having an increasingly number of conflicts that prevent you from getting to the gym. A trainer can help get you back on the wagon. Some direction with your goals and someone to put together an action plan is always a great motivator.
You want to lose weight and get in shape but really are clueless
Probably the single best reason to hire a trainer is because you really don’t know what you are doing. You can have the best intentions in world, but if you have no idea the proper way to eat or how to use the machines at the gym correctly, you won’t see much progress. And there are so many people who clearly think they know what they are doing but just don’t. Every single time I visit the gym, I see multiple people who I want to correct. And people, even my own friends, always try to argue with me or sell me on some nutritional nonsense.
My sister, having just given birth to her first child, said to me the other day, “Well, I hired a trainer. I had to. I kept telling myself I would go to the gym at such and such time, but it was never happening. I was getting sidetracked. I know if I have a set appointment time, I will be there.” There is nothing like $60-$120 an hour expense to get your booty to the gym.
You will work harder
There is no question in the world that you will exert yourself more with a trainer standing by you. They push you. They might even yell at you. They definitely make you do more reps than what you had planned out in your mind. Inevitably, if you’ve hired the right person, your workouts will be much more difficult and productive.
You know how/what to do, just would rather not think about it
This would be my current situation. I love having someone tell me what to do. I loathe planning out a body part, reps, sets…machines. I guess that makes me mentally lazy. But it also causes somewhat of a rut. Which can lead to lack of motivation. It all goes hand in hand. The primary reason I haven’t hired anyone is because I workout at 24 Hour Fitness in Hermosa Beach, and after having watched many of their different trainers, there’s not a single one I would hire. And I love my gym (even though it’s actually very filthy Mr. Gym Manager, whoever you are), so I’m not going anywhere.
If you have decided to hire a trainer, you should take my words into consideration. Personal training is a luxury item. It is expensive. If you’re going to pay the money, you need to be willing work hard and do what it takes to get the results that you want.
Making the decision to hire a trainer, assuming you have the financial resources, is the easy part. Vetting one is much harder.
I see personal trainers as a group of people similar to hair stylists. And massage therapists. There are a whole lot of them but a very few or are actually good at their jobs. Here are some key factors you should look for when choosing your trainer.
Any one can become a certified trainer. Classes aren’t even required. There is no governing body or any sort of national accreditation. However, there are some specific certification programs that regarded in the industry as more credible than others. This Livestrong article lists their ten best personal trainer certifications. Some of these certifications require classes, while others are simply an exam. Taking an exam does not make one qualified to train. But education is certainly important. You need to weigh certification and education with experience.
Obviously you will want to hire someone with some experience under his or her belt. I see a lot of people who compete in one bodybuilding/bikini/figure show and now believe themselves to be experts. The girl with the best stomach in the gym isn’t necessarily your best pick. Look at their credentials. Talk to their clients. Get references. There are so many people out there these days calling themselves “gurus,” when in reality they have no idea what they are doing. One of favorite idiots, who actually does have a ton of experience and celebrity clients, is Tracy Anderson. I’m convinced this woman has absolutely no idea what she’s talking about 90% of the time.
Attention to Clients
I’m a big believer in observing trainers with their clients. You can see very easily what type of trainer they are. Do they adjust their training based on who their client is, or put every person through the exact same moves? Are they even watching their client do the exercises or playing on their phone? I see so many trainers that are so clearly disinterested, bored and not remotely paying attention to their client. You want someone who is involved and invested in your success.
Their personal fitness level
Look, I’ve had times in my life where I have been fluffier than I’d like to be; and that certainly didn’t diminish my knowledge of training and nutrition. But if the girl you’re thinking of hiring has a gut and no ass, what makes you think she can help you achieve the body of your dreams? I’m not saying your trainer needs to be a ten, but they should represent the look or goal you are trying to obtain.
While hiring someone with a flexible schedule is convenient, if your prospective trainer has very few appointments on their book, which could be bad sign. Now, maybe he just moved to the area and is rebuilding a clientele. Or maybe just moved gyms. Regardless, a wide-open schedule is something to consider for it’s possible negative meaning.
As with any service, rates are always a consideration. The best trainers are not necessarily the most expensive, although I’ve found that typically someone in high demand will have higher rates. Sometimes, you can buy a package that will lower your rates. Don’t let someone over charge you. There’s no reason to feel like you need to spend $200 a session to get results. And there is another pretty popular option now, which is hiring an online trainer. I was leery of this at first; the thought of standing the gym with a piece of paper, reading it for my workout, was not appealing. But I did try this method for a year and found it to be fairly pleasing. Reading my workouts from paper really didn’t bother me that much. It was annoying that sometimes there were exercises listed that I didn’t know. And equally irritating was the lack of personal attention. I found that I was just a number. One of how many hundreds who were doing this same thing, getting these same workouts and same eating plan. But it is extremely cost effective. And might be a good alternative for you.
Choosing to hire a trainer was one of the best decisions I have ever made and has served me well throughout different points of my life. I’ve valued trainers I’ve had and the knowledge I’ve gained through them. They can be incredibly useful tool for so many reasons and one that I highly recommend.
Photo credit: Living Fitness