10 things to look for before hiring a Personal Trainer

So, you’ve decided to take the next step in your fitness journey and work with a professionally trained expert to help you reach your health and fitness goals.  Congratulations, not only does having the support of a personal trainer keep you more motivated and accountable, but he or she can also coach you to maximise your time at the gym, prevent injury and see more consistent results.

After your spouse, your personal trainer is potentially the person you’ll spend the most amount of time with each week, and confiding some of your most private thoughts, feelings and insecurities to.  This, among other things, is just one of the reasons it’s imperative you chose someone highly trustworthy and reputable.

Look for a knowledgeable and experienced personal trainer who feels like the most natural fit. They’ll not only help you reach your goals, but will also keep you feeling comfortable, motivated and inspired throughout the process.

Here’s 10 things you can look for to ensure you find the best trainer for your needs.

Qualifications. No why’s or wherefores, a trainer should be able to show you a fitness qualification. Once they’ve done that, you should also be asking if they’re a Registered Exercise Professional (REP’s).  Registration is something that personal trainers do after gaining their qualification, and ensures they’ve met certain standards of professionalism and competence from a trustworthy organisation.  It also means they’re required to stay up to date with ongoing professional development, and they adhere to professional ethics.

Experience. This can vary enormously between trainers, and depending on the degree of specialty support you require, will determine its level of importance.  For example, if you’re an elite athlete who competes in International Sporting events, you may need to look for someone who specialises in your chosen activity. However, if you’re new to exercise, or only looking for someone to check in with you once or twice per month, you may be well suited to working with a less experienced trainer.

Personality. What motivates you? Some people do well with positive reinforcement peppered with cheerleading, while others like to get screamed at and scared into doing a few extra squats. Either way, talk to the trainer and get a feel for his or her style to see if it is what works for you.

Style. This is a subtle, but important point of differentiation because it can end up making or breaking your experience. How does the trainer typically like to work with clients and on what beliefs will it be based?  Will you be using machines or sticking solely to free weights? Ask about training styles and see if it makes sense for your goals and preferences.

Specialties. If you’re looking for something specific such as weight loss or hitting a new 5k PR, you’ll want to work with a trainer who has the ability to coach you in this area. Not only will they have more expertise in your desired area, but chances are they’ll be more passionate about it and has a vested interest in it as well.

Cost. Just as experience, personality and style can range vastly between trainers so can their hourly rate, depending on certifications, specialty and location. So before you begin your hunt, sit down and think about your budget. And if hourly solo sessions are currently beyond your means, don’t despair; some trainers offer semi-private sessions or a discount for paying for several sessions in advance.

Availability. Because consistency is key when working with a trainer, it’s a good idea to ask about his schedule. Does he like to book them at the same time each week, or is it more of a floating schedule that changes regularly? Think about your availability to train and make sure if works with your chosen trainer.

Location. This is another area of personal preference, so consider your habits and daily routine carefully. Most trainers work out of a gym, so you’ll want to find one that is near to work or home, or both so that you can make the most of your availability to workout. Many people get inspired by seeing others working out, so a gym setting is often perfect for this.

Progress. In addition to a personalised training program based on your goals and fitness level, your trainer needs a method for tracking your progress so you can see, incrementally, that your hard work is paying off. Benchmarks such as PRs, weight loss, strength gains and other achievements can help you not only stay on track, but also ensure that your trainer is working for you.

Reputation. The best compliment a trainer can receive is a referral, but having people see results of their clients first hand comes in a close second. Getting people to achieve their goals (especially if those goals are similar to what you’re wanting to achieve) is the ultimate proof here, and good trainers will be happy to share success stories, testimonials and references.