Apart from the fact that my personal trainer had all the “street cred” and actual fitness qualifications I was looking for when I hired him a year and a half ago, I knew he was the right fitness trainer for me based on three clues:
• When I first called him, he did a lot of listening. The conversation was about what I thought I needed from personal training, not what HE thought I needed (before we’d even met).
• He had other personal training clients like me. Not just women, but clients with everyday issues like not-the-greatest posture and the typical complaints that come with that (e.g., stiff neck, backaches from time to time).
• Our personalities meshed well. We don’t agree on everything, but we “get” each other’s jokes. And when I give him a hard time because I don’t care for an assigned exercise, he lets me gripe. But he still makes me do the exercise.
You might already have a sense of my tips for finding the right fitness trainer. Here are three other thoughts that come to mind.
The Biggest Dealbreaker for Hiring a Personal Trainer
Education. Certification(s). If they don’t have a basic certification (that’s current!) and they don’t feel the need to stay on top of their game with continuing education every year, they aren’t the right trainer for you. Period.
There are lots of good fitness certifications out there. Some common fitness certifications for the USA and Canada come from: canfitpro, ACE, ACSM, CSEP, NSCA, NASM. Each Canadian province also has its own certifying body.
Fire Your Personal Trainer If He/She Does This …
Every trainer is different in terms of specialties, personalities, experience and how they motivate you, but if a trainer lacks professionalism, it’s hard to feel good about paying for his or her services.
Professionalism includes being attentive to clients. If your trainer is texting while you’re TRXing, it’s time to break up.
A couple of years ago when I was still searching for the right fitness trainer, I called one candidate to inquire about his services.
He answered the phone sounding like I’d just woken him up from a nap. Naps are fine - just maybe don’t talk to prospective clients when you’re in the middle of one.
You put a lot of trust into working out with a fitness trainer. The right personal trainer treats his or her business like, well, a business.
Why Your Fitness Trainer’s Personality Matters
Your personal trainer doesn’t have to laugh at your jokes … but it helps. If you consistently feel awkward with your personal trainer because your personalities clash, it’s OK to move on.
Being a personal training client can feel vulnerable at times; you want to be comfy with the person who’s seeing you – and causing you to be - sweaty and red-faced from working out.
On the other hand, sometimes people with different personalities make a great team! A quiet, skill-driven personal trainer can be a wonderful complement to a client with a boisterous, go-crazy personality. Or a personal trainer with a lot of motivational charisma can help a more reserved client flourish.
These tips should help you get a good start on finding the right personal trainer.
Do you have a personal trainer already? What qualities first drew you to him or her?
Amanda Vogel, MA human kinetics, is a certified fitness pro and presenter. She owns ActiveVoice.ca, a fitness writing service, and co-authored Baby Boot Camp: The New Mom’s 9-Minute Fitness Solution. In addition to being a social-media consultant for fitness brands and public figures, Amanda blogs at FitnessTestDrive.com and writes for popular magazines, including Reader's Digest, Best Health and SELF.