It could be the difference between becoming ripped and being ripped off.
Hiring a personal trainer can be one of the best investments you’ll make in your health. But gyms seem to be crawling with them. So how do you find the one for you? Here are five things every great trainer should have.
#1 Solid qualifications
Of course, like most industries, being qualified is a no-brainer. But take a closer look at what exactly your potential trainer is qualified in. It’s not actually that difficult to get qualified as a trainer; certificates III and IV in fitness, and First Aid/CPR training are all that’s required. But that’s just the bare minimum. Every trainer worth his or her salt will up-skill and broaden their qualifications, not just because it’s a legal requirement, but because it’s their business and hopefully their passion.
Don’t be afraid to ask where they’ve done further training and check that those qualifications align with your personal goals.
#2 They walk the walk
Look around your gym at the personal trainers – you’ll learn so much from the way they operate. How do they present themselves? A good trainer will lead by example. They don’t have to look like a body-builder – in fact, most won’t because that’s not their goal. How buff you are is definitely not a sign of how good you are as a coach. However, trainers do need to be fit, healthy and clean. If someone has trouble getting themself into shape, how can they inspire you to do it?
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#3 Social proof and proof of results
Okay, your potential trainer doesn’t need to be an Instagram star. To be honest, those who have enough time to post photos of themselves training all day clearly aren’t training anyone else. But if someone is running a reputable business, they’ll have some kind of social proof, whether it be a good website, Facebook page or recommendations from other clients. The longer they’ve been in the game, the more recommendations and proof of results they’ll be able to show you. Whatever your goal, be it fat loss, posture correction, or bulking up, if a trainer says they can help you, ask them to show you proof that they’ve helped others.
#4 A thorough assessment procedure
If you launch straight into a workout in your first session, alarm bells should ring. Before you even pick up a weight the two of you should discuss in detail your exercise and illness history, goals and any concerns you might have. Your trainer should also do a full posture and mobility assessment so they know exactly how you move, in order to keep you safe. A clear, contractual agreement is also a must.
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#5 A likeable and friendly personality
At the end of the day, you actually have to like your trainer – and vice versa. This person is responsible for motivating you when you’d rather be in bed or at the pub. They could have all the qualifications under the sun, but if you don’t actually like them as a human being, your sessions will feel lifetimes long. Rapport is just as important to personal training as the workout itself and great coaches care about their clients. They know your birthday, ask about your life outside the gym, check in on you regularly and sometimes even shout you coffee.
Your trainer should also be able to read you. Not immediately, but after a few months they hopefully know you well enough to understand when it’s time to push or time to lighten the load – without you even saying a word.
Likewise, you need to be the right fit for them, too. Coaches give a lot to their clients. It’s a high-energy, high-demand and, at-times, tiring job. But they do it because they love to help people. PT is a two-way street and no trainer wants to spend time with energy vampires, rude people or flakes who have no respect for their time.
Cassie White is a Sydney-based personal trainer, yoga coach and health journalist.