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What To Look For In A Personal Trainer

· Health,Fitness,Personal Trainer

So, you're ready to hire a personal trainer or a fitness coach.  But how do you know which one to hire?

Not all fitness professionals are created equal, and not all fitness certifications are created equal.  I have said this before but I'm going to say it again...a poor trainer can permanently injure a client.

Here are some things to check/ask a potential trainer:

#1.  Make sure they are certified (and insured), and that their certification is a high standard.  NSCA, ACSM, and CSEP are international gold standards.  StrongFirst and Agatsu hold the gold standard for kettlebell training, which is highly technical and isn't taught in detail in most personal training certification programs.  That said, neither of those have a practicum component nor are they a personal training certification.  In Canada, most of the provincial fitness certifications are also pretty good and require a practicum in order to complete their certification.  Ask the potential trainer - especially if they are fairly new - if they did a practicum.  All personal trainers must also carry a current First Aid & CPR certification in order to get liability insurance.

#2. What is their background and education in teaching/training people?  What else did they teach before becoming a trainer?  How hard was it for them to learn what you want to learn from them?  Just because someone is good at doing something doesn't always mean they will be good at teaching it.

#3. Related to #2: A degree in Kinesiology/Human Kinetics does not necessarily mean they know how to train people. It means they know science.  There's nothing wrong with a B.Kin, but my overwhelming observation is that a degree doesn't make them a better trainer.  In fact, sometimes it makes them worse because they try to train everyone like a jock or an athlete.  If you're a jock or an athlete, that's fine, but experience has taught me that people who hire trainers are neither, and have different goals and needs than athletes do.  With that in mind, ask them what their experience is in training your demographic. 

#4. What kind of questions do they ask you when you inquire?  Do they listen to your goals, your current situation, and consider any contraindications you might have?

#5. If they do any of the following, find another trainer:

  • Push supplements that they or a friend of theirs sells on you.  There's a place for some supplementation but most of them aren't necessary.  And you should have the choice to purchase those from wherever you like.
  • Puts you on an exercise ball while holding free weights.  It's dangerous and has no practical application.
  • Wants you to stand on a swiss ball or soft side of a bosu.  See above about dangerous.  There's not much practical application for the flat side of a bosu or a balance board, either, but they are slightly less dangerous.
  • Doesn't monitor or correct your form.
  • Exercises WITH you.  They should be focused exclusively on you the entire time.
  • Measures your BMI.  There are better ways of determining overall health, and BMI is not an accurate representation of overall health.

A personal trainer is, truly, an investment, and you get what you pay for. 

A cheap trainer can cause lasting injury to a client, and if they aren't insured, then you're on the line to cover any medical rehabilitation or therapy costs. 

ffiMake sure you're making an informed decision and hiring someone who knows what they're doing.

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