What To Look For In A Personal Trainer This Year

5 key traits you should consider in any personal trainer you hire: 

  • Experience.

  • Education.

  • “Practice what you preach”.

  • Willingness to learn and inspire.

  • Empathetic and understanding.  

The new year is arriving and this means many people will re-establish their fitness goals for the upcoming year. Gym owners and fitness professionals are gearing up for the sudden new wave of memberships and clients for the 2018 year. It is not uncommon for trainers to build up their schedule and fill their availability in the weeks to come. But what are the key things to look for in your future trainer? How do you decide between a great trainer and a medocare one? This may be the difference between following your fitness goals and falling through the cracks the second week of January. Most people fail very soon after the new year. Not because they are incapable but when the motivation wears off, they do not sustain their discipline. A great trainer can motivate, inspire and understand his/her clients and get them to their goals quickly and efficiently.

Experience and education come hand and hand, experience will allow your trainer to understand what works for people and what doesn’t. Education will qualify your trainer to work with a variety of people from athletes to the injured population. The quality of your trainer will be determined by how educated and experienced they are. Some of the best trainers have formal degrees in kinesiology or exercise science while others have several certifications specializing in various disciplines. If your trainer lacks experience and does not have a broad formal education, think twice before signing up. In my experience many trainers practice on family members and friends for several months before working with clients. This is a great method that a lot of trainers participate in to build experience. This also applies to training education. Personal training is a luxury and your hard earned money should be invested in a personal trainer who has enough experience as well as a broad education background.

I can’t express how many times I have seen overweight and unathletic trainers in gyms I visited around the country. This is an epidemic within the fitness community and it only feeds the stigma of personal trainers. When looking for a personal trainer you want someone who lives the fitness lifestyle. They do not have to be an olympic athlete or professional bodybuilder, but they should lead by example and inspire you to grow as a healthy fit individual. An effective trainer, is someone who works out when they don’t want to and eats healthy when they are tempted not to. They should be an ambassador of wellness and lead others to make the right choices in life. The pioneer of fitness will accept challenge and terminate excuses when they arise. This is what is found in a successful trainer.

One of the most challenging things of a busy trainer, is to constantly learn new perspectives and methods in fitness. The backbone of personal training is biology and medicine. Just like your healthcare practitioner your personal trainer needs to continuously learn new techniques and innovation within the field. Personal trainers work with the human body within the exercise sector. Therefore they need to stay up to date on CPR, basic physiology and biochemistry. Unbeknownst to the general public, a formal education in the exercise sciences contains a plethora of classes in biomechanics, nutrition and biology. Personal training is a very real science that your future trainer should invest in educating themselves about. The effective trainer will spend countless hours reading articles, scientific literature and wellness books in order to better themselves. This radiates to a more informed, inspired and satisfied customer.

Clients to personal trainers can have many underlying physical health conditions that are usually addressed on the first exercise session. But sometimes there are other health conditions that people encounter. If emotional or psychological ill health is present, it is up to the trainer to understand and be empathic towards their client in times of stress. The successful trainer motivates and inspires, but they are also compassionate and caring in times of need. Personal trainers hear everything from their clients, so if you share some hardship with them, they should be appropriately sensitive and warm hearted to those concerns.

The holidays spark new found motivation in all of us. The lack of a healthy stable diet during the holidays leads everyone to the gym. Trainers play an important role by helping novice lifters to new experiences in fitness.  It is also up to your trainer and fitness professional to be empathic, drive ambition and lead by example. Your personal trainer should be an ambassador to health and a practitioner of fitness. Be careful however of the trainer who does not follow these traits. Because they may lead you to fall through the cracks and never help you get to your goal. It would be important for the future client as well, to be willing to learn and absorb from their trainer. For the successful client is the disciplined one. Remember, there is no magic formula, supplement or trainer who will disappear all your problems with a flick of a magic wand. It is up to YOU to practice what the trainer is teaching you, and you will gain one of the best gifts on earth. Health. Congratulations on your fitness journey, I wish you much success in the new year.

Key takeaways

5 key traits you should consider in any personal trainer you hire:   

  • Experience and lack thereof.

  • Education (More is better).

  • “Practice what you preach”& Lead by example.

  • Willingness to learn and stay up to date on complex material.

  • Empathetic and understanding to personal and emotional concerns.   

Four questions to ask your trainer this holiday season:

  • How long have you been a trainer, and what certifications / degree do you have?

  • How often do you workout?

  • What is your diet like?

  • What is the most difficult part of being a trainer?

These questions are great because it does not sound like you are interrogating the trainer but while getting a brief understanding on who he/she is about. Also as you ask these questions about your trainer, look for some of the key points listed above. You want to check to see if your trainer meets these requirements or they do not. Be a conscious customer and ask many questions when appropriate. As a customer you want to get as much information about your trainer in order to know they are the right fit for you.

Also there are some warning signs to look out for. Some very important things to look for are listed below.

  • Do you experience pain during your session?

    • If you tell your trainer that you are experiencing pain in a particular body part, and they do not accommodate you during your workout session. This is a warning sign. They should accommodate you and change exercises. They may also try to elevate the pain with stretching or a lighter load.  

  • Does your tainer talk during the entire duration of the session, that you question if you got anything done?

    • One of the biggest mistakes trainers make, is talking to their clients too long. The successful trainer will communicate well. But be careful of the tainer who does not know when to stop talking. This will only hurt your progress.

  • Does your tainer push unnecessary and “mandatory” expensive supplements?

    • Another big mistake that is also a legal concern is the selling and “prescribing” of supplements to clients that do not need them. If a trainer is offering help on supplementation this is acceptable, but many trainers that do not have the licence or authority to prescribe supplements to you. Because they do not have the education and proper licence to do so. Therefore this is legal concern.

  • Does your trainer understand proper form and technique.

    • Make sure your trainer knows how to coach an exercise and teach proper form. Even if you are not getting the exercise correctly, your trainer should move onto something else.

As a personal trainer who holds a degree in exercise physiology I want to give you all the knowledge you will need this holiday season. I’ve worked with many different types of people and seen many good and bad trainers. Nonetheless there is a growing demand for new well educated personal trainers, but it is also necessary for the consumer to be well educated. Be aware and be conscious about your purchase. A great trainer is effective and motivated. They should lead by example and do anything to help you reach your goal.             


Authors Bio:

Joshua Maslag is a certified personal trainer who holds an AS and BS degree in exercise physiology.

He has been working in the fitness industry for several years in the North Jersey area. While he is continuing his education in physiology. Josh has personal interests in clinical applications and advanced sports performance modalities. This makes Josh an expert in sport physiology and fitness exercise coaching.