How to Pick a Personal Trainer by Stuart MacEwan
I have a huge issue with bad personal trainers. They embarrass me. I cringe when I hear the stories that clients tell about negative experiences from trainers. Some trainers aren’t long for this profession. It’s something to do while going to college; a natural fit for the athlete guy/gal who would otherwise haunt the gym even if they weren’t getting paid to be there. Thankfully, the bad ones seem to get distracted after a few months or years and go off to other ventures. Unfortunately it smears the reputation of the rest of us who want to make a career out of helping people live healthy, happy lives. I’ve compiled a short list of trainer do’s and don’ts below. Use it as a light guide for future trainer hiring needs.
Don’t – Trainer is late. A lot. With lame excuses, or no excuse at all. This is a huge sign of disrespect for you and your money as a customer. Trainers can be expensive. You are paying to have prompt, professional service. If your trainer is habitually late (as in more than 1x every few months) then take your money elsewhere. Demand that your time and money be respected.
Do – Find a trainer that is at the desk smiling when you arrive. They should be ready to go, workout prepared and fully engaged in you. This is you time!
Don’t – Trainer is on their phone talking or texting. Unacceptable. This is a sign that you come last behind the trainer’s social life and other goings on. How can your trainer supervise, educate and involve himself in your fitness when they are distracted by a phone call? You shouldn’t even see your trainers’ phone while you are working out. They shouldn’t even have it on them. It should be in a bag or locker hidden away. Again, this is your time. Don’t share it with anyone.
Do – Find a trainer that focuses solely on you the entire time. For all you know they don’t even have a phone (unless they call or text you later to confirm an appointment).
Don’t – Trainer has extended and frequent side conversations. Ever had they guy/girl who was talking to everyone but you? How did that make you feel? Like an afterthought right? When you are paying your hard earned cash for results, don’t take this kind of disrespect. A trainer is there to focus entirely on you the entire time. If they do have a comment to another member or trainer, they should include you in the conversation too. As far as you are concerned, you should be the center of that trainer’s world. Don’t accept less.
Do – Find a trainer that introduces you to everyone and includes you in any conversations. Those chats should be very short (less than 1 minute) because you guys have work to do and gabbing wont get your body ready for summer. Anything that takes away from your effective workout needs to be removed.
Don’t – Trainers who don’t listen to you. If you have a concern, input or something important to talk about your trainer should hyper-focus on you and respond accordingly. A trainer who blows you off, ignores your concern or who gets irritated when you have an issue is not interested in finding out what your individual needs are. Some trainers have amazingly big egos, and cannot comprehend that they don’t know everything. If your trainer cannot seem to respond to your concerns in a timely and caring manner, move on. You deserve someone who is really interested in you as a person.
Do – Find a trainer who stops everything when you say you need to talk. They should make good eye contact and use active listening skills during your conversation. Your concerns should be addressed with a soothing reassurance that you were heard, an educated response that allays your concern, or changes that show that you are validated.
As we sum up this light discourse into quality training habits, we should touch on a few things that are less tangible but still observable. Your trainer should make you comfortable in an environment that can be decidedly uncomfortable. In fact the idea that that you like being uncomfortable, because in gyms that’s what garners results. They should guide you; shelter you while exposing you to what you can achieve if pushed hard. They should protect you while growing your expectations as to what you can accomplish. This has nothing to do with their age, education or training style. Any trainer worth their salt puts a lot of effort into their day to day business, and regardless of their background they will find a way to accomplish your fitness goals because it is what we do professionally. Your trainer will listen to you, focus on your needs, make adjustments as necessary and adapt to your uniqueness as you two grow to know each other and accomplish your goals. If you have anything less than that currently, you need a different trainer. It so happens that I know some great ones!