Most of the time, when you are looking to hire a personal trainer, you go to a studio or a gym and they have a staff of trainers that are qualified, vetted fitness professionals ready for hire. You trust that these establishments have done their due diligence in hiring these trainers and you have confidence that you are getting the quality that you are paying for.
But maybe you don’t want to workout at a gym or a studio. Maybe you want to have a trainer come to your apartment gym. Or maybe all the gyms are closed and you are stuck at home because of a global pandemic…. but you still want to work with a trainer. So, you do a quick google search: “Trainers Near Me” or “Online Trainers” and you get a million bajillion results. How do you sift through it all? What exactly are you looking for? How do you know who’s qualified? What certification is actually good and reputable? What questions do you ask?
Unfortunately there are a lot of bad "trainers" out there. The world is full of uncertified, under qualified people giving fitness advice to the public. Just because someone might "look the part" or look like they know what they are doing, doesn’t mean they are actually qualified to be prescribing and/or selling exercise or nutrition advice.
If you are seeking out a personal trainer, a personalized program, or even a fitness guide - channel your inner FBI agent and do a little background check. If you’re unsure of where to start, here are a few key things to search for:
When looking for a trainer, first and foremost, you should look into their credentials. If they don't have a certification - walk the other way.
But if they do: Where did they get their education? What certifications do they have? Are these certifications up to date? What do they specialize in? All of these questions are extremely important to ask and discuss with a trainer before you begin working with them. Professional sites like Exercise Science Guide, HuffPost, and Very Well Fit agree that where you get your certification matters.
Some of the current top certifications/qualifications for trainers are:
A Degree in Exercise Science or Kinesiology
NASM - National Academy of Sports Medicine
ACSM - American College of Sports Medicine
NSCA - National Strength and Conditioning Association
ISSA - International Sports Science Association
ACE - American Council on Exercise
All of the above require the trainer to study and understand human anatomy and kinesiology, along with reviewing client case studies. In addition to an up to date personal training certification, they may also have a specialization certification like: Nutrition, Health Coach, Special Populations, Corrective Exercise Specialist, TRX Certification, Pre- and Postnatal Fitness, and many others.
Don’t feel uncomfortable asking your trainer, or potential trainer, to provide you with this information! Even if they work for a gym or studio you think is reputable, you are still allowed to do your own due diligence and ask about their credentials. If they are a qualified fitness professional, they will have no problem letting you know (or even brag a little) about their educational background.
A training philosophy is like a mission statement. Usually a training philosophy consists of 3 things: why they do what they do, how they do it, and their style or approach.
For example my training philosophy looks like this:
Each client should be evaluated and treated as an individual, as there is no “one-size fits all” nutrition plan or training program. I am dedicated to helping my clients fall in love with fitness and establish healthy habits that will last beyond our sessions. Working out and eating healthy are practices that should be enjoyable to the client, able to be integrated into their daily life, and balanced with their current routine. I lead by example and hope to be a source of motivation to inspire change in others. I’m passionate about what I do because I am able to positively influence people’s lives.
Make sure, first, that your trainer has a philosophy they can provide you with, and second, that this philosophy jives with your own beliefs and your goals. Which brings us to my next point.
Trainers are people. We all have different likes, dislikes, goals, personalities, ways of speaking, lifestyles, etc. When you hire a trainer, you are starting a relationship. One that you have specific goals and needs from. You are counting on that relationship to help get you from Point A to Point B. But if you don’t enjoy being in that relationship, it’s going to be a helluva lot harder to get to Point B.
So look for someone you vibe with. Most gyms or studios will give you a questionnaire or set up a meeting prior to starting with a trainer so that they can try to match you with someone that will best suit your needs and your personality. If you are looking for a trainer on your own, Instagram is cool because you can kind of stalk your favorite trainer and get a feel for who they are and how they approach training before you hire them.
If you realize after a few sessions that you don't mesh with a trainer that you hired or were matched with, don’t be afraid to have a discussion with them or request a new trainer. Cause guess what? If you hate spending time with them, you’re going to dread your sessions, and you are going to be less likely to persist with your goals. Also, if you have ever, or do ever, have a bad experience with one trainer - don’t let that tarnish your view of trainers all together. They just weren’t right for you… find someone who is!
Do they have testimonials they can provide you from previous or current clients? Are they retaining their clients, or are they constantly taking on new people? Results, client success, and customer satisfaction speak volumes.
THINGS THAT DON’T EQUAL QUALIFICATIONS
Just to be clear:
A Lotsa Followers DOES NOT = A Qualified Trainer
A Hot Ripped Body DOES NOT = A Qualified Trainer
An Aesthetic Instagram, Website, and Brand DOES NOT = A Qualified Trainer
A Lot of Clients DOES NOT = A Qualified Trainer
Them Saying, “I’m a great trainer.” DOES NOT = A Qualified Trainer
Others Saying, “They’re a great trainer, they make me sweat a ton.” DOES NOT = A Qualified Trainer
No, no, noooo, no, no, nahhh-no, no, NO!
I’m not saying that if a trainer has one or all of these things that they are a bad trainer. But make sure these things aren’t the only things that are floating them. Nowadays, it’s a lot easier to “fake it till ya make it.” There’s a lot of non-qualified people having success operating at surface level but don’t have the actual knowledge or education if you dig a little deeper beneath that surface. Do they have a credible certification, do they have a solid training philosophy, and can they provide results??? If the answer is no to any of those three things - keep searching because qualified fitness professionals are out there.