Exercise 301: I Love You, I Love You Not – A Guide to Finding a Personal Trainer

Ladies, we hate to admit it but sometimes we need a little help. I grew up playing sports with coaches always telling me to run faster, harder, longer. The last thing I want as an adult is me paying someone to tell me to run faster, harder, longer. Even I have to admit that having a personal trainer, at least for a little bit, can set you on the right path to getting in shape. They will push you when you don’t want to push yourself. When you’re working out alone, there’s no one around to tell you you’re slacking off.

If you’ve never exercised before or played sports it’s difficult to figure out what to do on your own. Yes, hiring a personal trainer can be expensive but you can do it for any period of time you like. They can teach you the basics of form, which is important so you don’t hurt yourself. If they are also a nutritionist or partner with a nutritionist you can kill two birds with one stone. I say it all the time…it’s not just about calories out, but the quality of calories in. Also, check with your health insurance provider. With the rising cost of health care some insurance companies are willing to chip in on the expense. It varies, the average is about $20 per month toward gym membership or other membership that you can prove is exercise-related.

Here are the tips to picking out a trainer you can love and with whom you can have a successful partnership:

  1. Know your goals. Before you begin the task of looking for someone decide what your goals are – weight loss, tone, build muscle, all of the above. This will help guide your conversation with potential fitness suitors.
  2. Gender bender. Do you want a man or woman. This is completely personal. You want to be comfortable with this person who will be in your personal space quite a bit.
  3. What’s your learning style. Do you need someone to demonstrate for you or can you just go from what they say? If you’re constantly having to ask a trainer to demonstrate for you and they’re thinking it’s a way to cop out you’ll be frustrated in the end.
  4. Make a list of questions. Now that you’re in front of a trainer ask them some simple questions:
    • What’s your style? Do you yell? Are you adaptable?
    • What’s your background? Find out if they’re certified to train and how long they’ve been doing this.
    • How many clients do you have? You want to know if it’s going to be difficult to schedule time with him or her.
    • Do you have references? If their current or past clients are willing to vouch for them that list should be readily available.
    • What are your terms? This is critical. You want to know upfront if you have to sign a contract for a specified amount of time or if there is a fee for a missed session. If you only want someone for six weeks but they require six months, that may not be the person for you.
  5. Communicate. Let the trainer know up front if you have injuries such as back or knee. The trainer will need to modify the routine so you don’t hurt yourself. Also let them know if yelling at you doesn’t work for you. Yelling doesn’t work for me, but well- meant snide remarks sometimes get me going. Let her or him know what motivates you.
  6. Location. Pick someone who is located near where you are most likely to get a work out in. Or if they will come to your house. If you’re not very likely to work out after work, choose someone near your house for an early morning workout instead.
  7. Can I get fries with that shake. This is a two-fold tip. Nutrition is important. Ask if they also specialize in nutrition or if they have a partnership with someone who is familiar with their training routines. Second, ask what else comes with your fee. These people aren’t cheap. Given these difficult economic times many trainers may be offering some bonuses like books or discounts on meal plans to sweeten the deal.
  8. Can I get a free session. If they don’t offer a free consultation session where you actually workout to get a sense for the chemistry, ask for about 15 minutes or a half session instead. Of course they’ll put their best foot forward, but you know if you’ll get along with someone.
  9. Parting is such sweet sorrow. If it doesn’t work out, break up with them. This is a big investment of your time and money. Don’t be afraid to let them know when it’s not working out for you.

It really isn’t that difficult to get started. Decide on your budget and follow this list. Don’t allow not knowing what to do be a barrier. If you’re not sure where to find a trainer start by calling up a local gym or fitness club. Many of the people who work there are personal trainers and have offerings outside of the club.






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