You’ve seen them working with others at the gym, and you probably have a friend or two who’s had success with a personal fitness trainer. You might think hiring one is fairly straightforward. Proper credentials, check. Available time slot that works with your schedule, check. Fee you’re happy to pay, check. While it can sometimes be that simple, the truth is, when it comes to finding the right personal fitness trainer for you, the more effort you put into your search, the better your results will be. Yes—just like with working out—the more you give, the more you get. Here’s what it takes to find your perfect personal trainer fit.
Step One: Get Real with Your Goals
Funny enough, this step is one many people skip, but according to certified professional trainers, it’s a crucial one. Ask yourself, what does success look like? “I can tell I’ll have a good relationship with a client when they have definable, realistic goals—and they know that achieving those goals won’t be easy or happen overnight,” says Adrian Richardson, a certified professional trainer for Fitstar Personal Trainer in the Fitbit app. Take a moment and get clear about what you want from this potential partnership, and be honest about how much you’re willing to do to get there. “When you can embrace the process and you’re ready to put in the work, we’ll have the strongest connection and you’ll see the best results,” says Richardson.
Step Two: Consider Going Virtual
It’s a common misconception that virtual training is ineffective, but if you’ve ever tried to match Lea Rouse’s moves in Fitstar Personal Trainer you know that’s not the case. “I’ve heard people say virtual training sessions aren’t hard,” says Rouse, a certified personal trainer and nutrition consultant, “And I simply tell them they just haven’t found the right program yet.” A virtual partnership is a great option if your schedule doesn’t align with a local trainer’s time.
Step Three: Search and Study
Referrals, gym trials, and internet searches will introduce you to both local and virtual training talent. Checking out the trainer’s own website and social channels is a good way to get to know their fitness philosophy, too. Remember, this is a person to whom you’ll confide rather intimate information, so the more you connect with them from the start, the more comfortable your working relationship will likely become. Once you’ve found one or two (or more!) contenders, it’s time to make contact.
Step Four: Ask Them Questions
Armed with a phone number or email address, and your goals crystal clear in mind, you can confidently reach out to the trainers on your roster. You’ll want to work with someone who knows their stuff, so confirm credentials first. National Strength and Conditioning Association (N.S.C.A.), National Academy of Sports Medicine (N.A.S.M.), and American College of Sports Medicine (A.C.S.M.) are all reputable.
Beyond credentials, you’ll want to ask about training styles, and what you can expect from a session. “Ask about any specialties the trainer might have, especially if you’ve been injured, are recovering from surgery, or exercising during or after a pregnancy,” suggests Fitstar trainer Rouse. Also, it’s important to know about logistics up front, so ask about available training sessions, location, and fees.
Step Five: Share Your Stories
If you like how the question and answer period went, the best thing you can do next is tell them about yourself. Not only will this give your potential trainer a clear idea of where you are fitness-wise, their reactions and responses will help you gauge how comfortable you are with them. Rouse makes it clear that your health history is crucial, “I like to know about every ache, pain, injury, or accident your body has experienced,” she says. “It helps me to find and correct imbalances more quickly before we get started. That way you’re not telling me about the rotator cuff surgery you had a few years ago, 20 minutes into a challenging push-up session.” Because, ouch.
Step 6: Prepare for Success!
You did it! You booked a trial session with a trainer—congrats! Here are two final tips to make sure you start on the right foot from Fitstar trainers Richardson and Rouse:
Don’t wait until your first session to get started. “Do a light workout on your own three days before your training session, something you’re comfortable with like a walk, gym session, or a class,” says Rouse. “That way your first workout together doesn’t feel like such a shock to the system,” she says.
Drink water, sleep, and get focused. “Proper preparation the night before and day of your first workout is key,” says Richardson. “Make sure you get quality sleep and hydration, eat a small snack, wear proper clothing, and most importantly—focus on the work we are doing together—not on everything else going on in your life.”
Remember, committing to a personal trainer is making a big investment in yourself. You’re spending money and time to reach your health and fitness goals. While many could probably help you get fit, finding the perfect fit is extra important when it comes to your personal fitness. Trust your gut, be honest about what you want, and you’re sure to meet the right match to make results happen. Go get ‘em!
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