Are you finding that you are losing motivation for working out? Well hiring a trainer to help take your workouts to a whole new level might just be the answer! If you’re going to spend the money on yourself (and speaking as a Certified Personal Trainer, I think you should!), then you’ll want to find a trainer who is a perfect fit for you.
Take a little time to shop around for one who will best meet your unique fitness abilities and goals. Think of it the same way you would select a financial planner — you wouldn’t entrust your financial wealth to just anyone with a certification, so why do something similar with your health?
Here are five things to ask yourself and your prospective trainers as you go through the process:
Fitness Goals! What Are Yours?
The best trainer in the world can’t help you reach your health and fitness goals if you don’t know what they are or if they are vague. To help you set attainable goals, adhere to the SMART strategy. (SMART is an acronym for Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic and Timely.)
I would also encourage you to make your fitness goals habit-based rather than outcome-based. A habit-based goal would be something like, “I want to exercise for 30 minutes at least five days per week,” while an outcome-based goal would be something like, “I want to lose 15 pounds.”
Be a bit suspicious of the fitness professional who smiles and says you can do anything.
It is entirely possible that you may lose 15 pounds if you exercise for at least 30 minutes at least five days per week, but if you judge your success according to the numbers on the scale, you open yourself up to self-sabotage. By focusing on the healthy habits themselves, and not the desired outcomes of those habits, you’re much more likely to make those habits permanent. Trust me when I say that those desired outcomes will happen. You just have to be patient and persistent.
How Does Your Body Feel?
Once you know your goals, you can start looking at different trainers. One of the first things a trainer should do is ask you a series of questions about your personal and family health history, your history of injury and any other physical limitations you may have. Now is not the time to paint too rosy a picture of yourself. Be overly cautious here, and don’t hold back any information. Doing so could cause even a very good trainer to set you up with a program that puts you at physical risk.
Based on the information you provide, a good trainer will then be able give you an assessment of whether your stated goals are realistic within the time frame you’ve set. You may need to modify your goals or your time frame, and that wouldn’t be unusual.
Where Did They Learn Their Stuff?
It’s sad to say, but nearly anyone willing to pay the fee to an online organization can call themselves a personal trainer. Some states are advancing efforts to require certification of fitness professionals, but overwhelmingly, the industry is unregulated by government.
This does not mean, however, that the industry isn’t regulated at all. There are a number of certifying organizations accredited by the National Commission of Certifying Agencies. Certification means the organization meets established criteria and complies with best practices within the industry. A few of those organizations are also accredited by both the Coalition of the Registration of Health Professionals and the European Health and Fitness Association. You can use the American Council on Exercise’s online tool to view a comparison of different certification organizations. In addition to professional certification, many fitness professionals also have associate or bachelor or master’s degrees in fitness related fields, like exercise science, kinesiology or sports science.
Once you’ve determined that a trainer has met the education requirement, you’ll want to ask some questions about their experience. Because adults 50 and over have unique fitness and health concerns, it’s a good idea to find a trainer with some specialty training and experience in working with older adults. As part of a fitness professional’s recertification, he or she will need to complete continuing education courses. Look for a trainer who has selected courses relevant to your particular goals and needs or completed a round of specialization courses. A specialization in Senior Fitness, Functional Training or Orthopedic Exercise means the trainer has completed extensive additional study in areas that may be particularly relevant to your needs.
Do You Click?
Because I’ve been a trainer for so long, I can tell within a few minutes whether a client and I will have good chemistry. It’s surprising to me how many clients either can’t sense this, or don’t consider it important.
A great trainer will be professional but friendly, and possess the ability to communicate complex concepts and instructions in a way you can understand. Fun is part of my personal values – so I will always make sure that the sessions are upbeat and full of smiles!
Let’s Talk Money
When shopping for a trainer, don’t merely compare prices based on the stated hourly rate. Find out whether a trainer offers package deals, discounts or lower-cost small group sessions. If you can talk your spouse or a friend into getting trained, too, you may be able to cut the cost per person by as much as half.
Also try to get a sense up front about how many times per week the trainer recommends seeing you and how many weeks it should take to reach your goals. This will depend in part on how diligent you are at working out on your own between sessions, but a trainer should ask you that before recommending that you meet three times a week.
Finding the right trainer can take some time and work on your part, but when you do, it will be so worth it! And – if you are interested in doing some in person or virtual training with me I do have some openings! Just contact me and let’s see if it is a good fit!
Move your body, put good things in and ENJOY every day!