Choosing A Trainer

We are 3 weeks into the new year, and right about now, people are starting to realize that their fitness goals may need some adjusting.  They are also starting to realize they may need some help.  Its been proven that people who exercise with a personal trainer yield better results than those who exercise on their own, even if the frequency of workouts is the same.  Here is a link from the NIH..

So what makes the difference?  We like to use the T.E.A.M. approach

Teach. Evaluate. Accountability. Motivation

Teach. So many people don't reach their goals simply because they don't know what do.  In this case, one of two things usually happen.  1.  The person will waste their time doing exercises that are ineffective or 2. The person will hurt themselves.  A trainer can help teach you the proper exercises and the appropriate intensity to help you achieve your goals without an injury.

Evaluate. A great personal trainer will evaluate everything, your movements, your goals, your progress, etc.  By evaluating your movements, a personal trainer can identify issues such as balance, mobility, and stability, and come up with a program that will address those needs while keeping you away from exercises with a high potential for injury.  After the initial assessment, a good trainer will continue to evaluate your progress to determine the next appropriate step. 

Accountability. This is probably the most powerful part of hiring a trainer.  It helps make fitness a priority on your schedule, something that you absolutely cannot skip, similar to a doctor's appointment or a big meeting for work.  Its easy to cancel a workout for happy hour with a few friends, but if you know you need to be there for a session you paid for, you are less likely to skip. 

Motivation. People have different goals for different reasons. The goal is not to lose weight and get tone.  That describes "what" you want.  A good trainer will understand "how" to achieve those goals.  A great trainer understands "why" you want to achieve those goals.  Do you have a wedding coming up? A beach vacation? Are you training for a sport or sporting event? Or maybe you just want to feel better about yourself.   

Now that we've gone over some of the reasons to invest in a personal trainer, let's talk about how to find a good one.   Just like in any other industry, the good trainers are many times competing against the bad trainers or the idea of a bad trainer.  You don't want to invest your time and money with someone who doesn't understand you.  

Things to look for..

1. Certification - some of the top certifications include NSCA, ACSM and NASM.  There are some other decent ones out there but these three are universally recognized.  Most good trainers will have multiple certifications.  Stay away: from in-house certifications or programs that are cookie cutter.  These programs and these trainers tend to make the workouts more about them and less about you.  Crossfit would be a prime example of this.  I know a few CFL1 who are great.  They run an awesome program and usually have the education background to accompany CFL1 with proper progressions and regressions.  The problem is these trainers are the exception and not the rule.  I know far too many CFL1 trainers who are horrible.  In their minds, if you can't do something, that's you're fault, and they have no idea how to fix it.  Find someone that can address your needs exactly. 

2. Testimonials - look for a trainer with a wide variety of clients.  Chances are they will have the knowledge to address your needs.  Stay away: from the trainer who looks like the hulk, and all of his clients look like the hulk.  Chances are he may not care about your needs, unless of course you want to look like the hulk. 

3. Facility - you want to find an environment where you will be comfortable.  It could be a traditional health club setting or maybe performance setting with field turf and the sound of bumper plates.  For some, that's extra motivating but for others that can be very intimidating.  Stay away: from facilities or programs that are built around one modality.  If the only thing in the building is a barbell, chances are you will be using a barbell whether its good for you or not.  This goes for anything...TRX, Kettlbells, Reformers, etc.  I love all of these components as a part of a complete program.  They are all versatile tools.  But it doesn't matter how versatile the tool is, its still only one tool.  If you're trying to build a house, you would hire a master carpenter, not someone who is extremely good at hammering nails.