Posted: 12:00 a.m. Monday, Feb. 24, 2014
You already know how personal trainers help you reach your goals and push you to the next level, whether you're a beginner or a seasoned exerciser. You probably also know a little about how to choose the right trainer with the proper qualifications. However, how do you find the absolute best trainer for you and your goals?
I'm about to share a secret with you: Not every personal trainer—no matter how fabulous or talented he or she is—is going to be right for you. You may be dazzled by proven results, certifications and background, but by asking just seven questions, you can tap into exactly whom the personal trainer is and whether he or she will gel with you. Approach it as if you're in human resources and hiring for a big position in a big company. After all, you're pretty darn important, and you're handing over a big piece of your life here. When meeting with a personal trainer for the first time, most people ask solid basic questions, but these less traditional and less conventional questions really give you a sense as to why the personal trainer has chosen his or her career and what he or she can do for you. Read on to learn what questions to ask to find YOUR best trainer!
1. How do you stay in shape? Most personal trainers will train themselves similarly to how they'll train you. If they love to run, then they'll probably suggest that you run, too, as long as you're able. If they swear by daily yoga to stay fit, then they'll most likely suggest that you try yoga. Although this question doesn't guarantee what type of exercises they might have you do in a personal-training session, it does provide a window into their workout soul.
2. What's your fitness philosophy? A personal trainer should—without hesitation—be able to tell you exactly what he believes when it comes to fitness. Does he train his clients for better health? To improve body confidence? To show off a six-pack? This question really gets into what makes a personal trainer tick and will let you know better what goals the trainer will have in mind for you to set and achieve.
3. Do you recommend supplements? Although healthy eating is key to losing weight and getting in shape, personal trainers are not registered dietitians, and therefore should never give out specific nutritional advice such as meal plans or supplement recommendations beyond a multivitamin. When you ask this question, if a personal trainer starts going on and on about what supplements (or worse, diet pills) he or she uses and recommends to her clients, beware. It is outside of a personal trainer's scope of practice to give specific dietary recommendations.
4. Are you CPR and AED certified? You probably already asked whether the personal trainer is properly certified by a personal-training association, but double check that he is currently CPR and AED certified. AED stands for automated external defibrillator and if you or someone else at the gym has a heart attack, it can save a life. Make sure your personal trainer knows how to use it and is properly trained to respond during potential emergencies.
5. Are most of your clients long term or short term? If a personal trainer has mostly long-term clients, then you know that he or she is probably good at relationship building and at keeping workouts fresh and challenging over time. On the flip side, if they're all short-term, this might signify that the personal trainer is either brand new to the industry (you should definitely ask about previous training experience) or fitness facility. At worst, this could signal an underlying training or personality issue. If you're just looking to invest in a few personal training sessions and you really like a personal trainer who has mostly short-term clients, that's OK. It's when you're looking to invest in a large package of sessions that you need to be careful whom you choose to work with for the next six months. When all else fails, go with your gut.
6. How many times per week do you train clients? A lot of personal trainers train as a part-time job, so if this number is below 10, don't be afraid. Just follow up by asking whether they have a full-time job. If they don't have another job, then ask why they train so infrequently. If they do 30-plus sessions a week, ask them how they keep things fresh and how they avoid burnout. Most trainers who do more than 30 sessions a week are working very long hours from 5 a.m. to 10 p.m., almost every day of the week. With that much training, burnout is inevitable, and you don't want it to happen during your session!
7. Why are you a personal trainer? Similar to, but different from, question No. 2, this one addresses why the trainer got into the fitness field. If it's to see people transform their bodies, then you know the trainer focuses on the physical. If the trainer says it's to help people transform their lives, then you know they'll probably have your well-being in mind. If the trainer takes a few minutes to answer or isn't sure, run far, far away!
If you've been working with a trainer for awhile now and ask these questions without receiving the answers you were hoping for, here are some more tips on how to break up with your personal trainer. Asking these questions and breaking up may be hard to do, but your fitness journey is all about you, so ask away!
Find a certified personal trainer or fitness professional in your area using this simple search tool, brought to you by SparkPeople and powered by the IDEA Health & Fitness Association.