As someone who has been both a trainer and a client, I know how important it is to find someone who is extremely knowledgeable in their field. Unfortunately, the training and fitness industry is pretty much unregulated. You’d be surprised to know that I have worked at a nationally-recognized gym where many of the trainers weren’t even certified. As with most service-based industries, you’re probably going to run through a few bad or mediocre trainers before you run into a good one. I’ve had a few clients who have had trainers before they started training with me and I’ve had to either reeducate or educate them on such things as diet and proper from. This can be quite frustrating for the client considering what they have been told in the past.
I have clients of all walks of life and each one of them is different in terms of their goals, ability and mindset. You have to be able to adapt to each client and this sounds cliché but as a trainer you should be enriching their life in some form whether it be getting them on a healthy diet or helping to restore their posture. I’m the type of trainer that if we are not making progress as defined by the needs of each client then we will discontinue our training. As with any investment, it’s important to do your research first. So, I have some up with a short list of what to look for in a good trainer and when you should “run for the hills.”
1. First and foremost, your trainer should know about proper dieting and nutrition. Your diet is 80% of your training regime no matter what your goals are, so a good trainer should be able to tell you what to do in this arena. A good litmus test for this is to pay attention to whether your trainer is in shape or at the proper weight. This doesn’t apply for every trainer as I have seen some that are sporting a few extra pounds but they still know their stuff when it comes to diet they just aren’t following it themselves. “Is your trainer leading by example if he or she is trying to get you to drop weight?”
2. Your trainer should pay close attention to your form and mechanics . Your trainer should educate you on how to squat properly as well as being able to identify some of your muscular imbalances in your body. This can be more advanced in regards to posture and imbalances but another good litmus test is to pay attention to whether or not your feet are lined up and legs tracking symmetrically when you squat. I can’t tell you how many times I have seen trainers with clients doing dead lifts with a horribly rounded out back or squatting with one foot an inch in front of the other. These might seem like little things to the untrained eye but a knowledgeable trainer should be paying attention to these types of things as they give a window into each client’s imbalances and and postural weakness. Paying attention this can help you give the proper corrective exercises and in many cases will alleviate certain pains your clients may have and can help keep them injury free.
3. Find out your trainer’s background and ask yourself ‘What qualifies them to be a trainer?’ As I mentioned before, there are quite a few trainers that have no business being one and a lot of times there backgrounds have had nothing to do with fitness or sports. In my experience you’ll tend to get a better caliber of trainer if they have done some form of competitive sport in their past or are currently competing as they usually have the experience to know what it takes for your body to perform at a higher level and the mindset that it requires. You kind of want a trainer to serve as a guide post or inspiration. The best trainers lead by example.
4. This one seems like a no brainer to me but I see it all to often with trainers and clients. Make sure your trainer pays attention to you during the session. Is he or she talking to other trainers or are they constantly on their cell phones while training you? If so, then time to move on. This is your time and you are paying someone good money to help you. If your trainer doesn’t respect that by not paying attention to you then run don’t walk. This is a pet peeve of mine and quite frankly it gives the industry a bad reputation. They should be giving you their all during the session, so don’t expect anything less.
5. A trainer that spends a lot of your time putting you on cardio machines is a major red flag. You are paying what should be a professional to teach and educate you with proper exercise training. A trainer that puts you on cardio equipment for a long part of the session is quite simply a lazy trainer. I’m not saying these machines don’t have a purpose and sometimes they can used to work around injuries. However, if you are spending a good bit of your session on a cardio machine then what are you paying the trainer for?
This list obviously covers the basics but it should help you weed out some bad experiences with wasted time and money and not to mention a lack of results!