5 Things To Consider Before You Hire A Personal Trainer

General view of Personal Trainers 7/7/2013

It’s January 1st, 2016.

The daylight gently creeps in beneath the curtains.

You know you don’t have to get up – it’s a public holiday.

You share a quick, content smile with yourself and roll over.

“Let’s go back to sleep”, you think.

Then it hits you…

The hangover from hell.

You can’t get back to sleep.

You’re desperately try to put the pieces of the jigsaw together to figure out what happened last night.

You’ve got the fear.

Eventually, you give up and decide to get out of bed and face the music.

As you begin to deal with the day ahead, you start to contemplate your life choices.

Your Facebook newsfeed is littered with ‘New Year, New You’ adverts.

There’s meal replacement adverts everywhere.

You’re not really too sure what’s going on.

You know you want to look better and to feel more confident, but you find the whole ‘New You’ thing a little cheesy.

You’re pretty happy with who you are, you just want to feel a bit better.

After a lot of thought, you decide that your results are best placed in the hands of a professional.

You’ve tried going it alone a few times and given up without much success on each occasion.

You speak to your friends about their trainers, you have a look on Google and Facebook for trainers in your local area and you start trying to figure out who you’re going to sign up with.

You’re on the right track, but it’s not a flawless thought process.

Personal Trainers are ten-a-penny these days.

Every gym has 10-15 of them. There’s likely millions of ‘online coaches’ and there’s the ‘mobile PTs’ travelling around the parks and houses.

Unfortunately, not every one is good. And even if they are defined as “good” by someone else, maybe they won’t be good for you.

Here’s a few things to consider before hiring a Personal Trainer this January:

1. Values

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Values are something that are never really discussed when it comes to hiring trainers, but I think they have become the most important factor within our community since we opened RSF Improve.

When I look around our gym I see a ton of people who are very similar to myself, in many ways.

And I don’t mean the loud, cocky and brash ‘me’ that comes across when I’ve got my game face on. I mean the ‘me’ who’s a little socially awkward and introverted at his core.

Over time, I’ve become more and more comfortable with who I am and have exposed my own flaws within my writing. This has led to me attracting a bunch of people from vastly different areas of life who all gel together wonderfully, because they share very similar values.

The people who train at our place are honest, reliable, hard working, polite, friendly, introverted but often appear extroverted, eager to help others and generous.

Values are something I’ve only really become aware of, or understood, in the past 6-8 months but they now factor into just about every decision I make, and there’s no better way to showcase the importance of sharing common values than the atmosphere during our group sessions.

Think about who you are as a person and aim to find a coach who is similar. They’ll understand you better, you’ll understand them better and the relationship will simply work better.

2. Location

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Sometimes the trainer best suited to you isn’t geographically convenient.

In this case, you could perhaps train with the coach in an online capacity, if he/she does that. Or you could train with him/her once per month and have them handle your programming; again, if he/she offers that service.

The last thing you want to do is ‘commit’ to something that you realise you can’t sustain after week 1 as traffic, work commitments, public transport, etc. are getting in the way.

That being said, if you’re truly serious about making changes, you’ll prioritise and ensure that you’re showing up, irrespective of the barriers that are in place.

Another thing to consider, is to contact the coach you’d love to train with but simply can’t due to geographical issues and ask him/her to recommend a coach who operates closer to you.

Most coaches will have a network of friends in different cities and countries they can call upon for help in these instances.

3. Affordability

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Something else to consider is your budget.

Most trainers will have a couple of different training options at different price points. An example of this could be: 1-to-1 Coaching > Group Training > Online Training.

1-to-1 Coaching will get you the highest level of attention and individualisation and, to reflect this, will be the most expensive option.

Group training will be more generic in terms of programming and you’ll ‘share’ attention with others during the session, but the investment will be lower. With online training, you’ll essentially be ‘trained’ via email.

The best piece of advice I’d give here is to assume from the get go that it’s going to work out and decide on a service that you can afford to keep up for a minimum of 3-6 months.

Obviously, it’s not always going to work out favourably but this’ll prevent you from signing up to something, realising you can’t afford it and quitting a few weeks in.

No one benefits here and a little bit of forethought can prevent both your time and the trainer’s time being wasted.

4. Approach

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This is where the water gets a little murky.

With regards to training, there are transformation coaches, prep coaches, strength coaches, movement coaches, CrossFit coaches, personal trainers, martial arts coaches, S&C coaches, etc. etc. etc.

Then, where nutrition is concerned, there’s paleo, flexible dieting, clean eating, intermittent fasting, calorie counting, low carb, high protein, high fat, low fat, meal replacements, etc.

This is where it gets confusing for most people…

“I just want help!”

Yeah, I know you do.

Ultimately, what a coach calls him/herself is simply for marketing purposes. Don’t read too much into the title, look at who they work with and the results they deliver for those people.

That being said, if they’re only training massive guys with six-packs and bulging biceps and you’re a middle-aged housewife it’s probably going to be a good idea to find a different coach who trains a lot of middle-aged housewives.

As far as the nutrition stuff goes, everything listed there is simply a tool.

If a coach uses a particular tool with everyone he/she works with and refuses to acknowledge the benefits of another tool you should avoid this coach.

The best coaches use principles but have a large collection of tools at their disposal. They use their experience to decide which tools to use at a given time with a given individual, based on that person’s lifestyle, goals and circumstances.

5. Do your due diligence

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Don’t just walk into your gym and play ‘pin the tail on the donkey’ on the PT board.

Follow coaches on Facebook, read their blogs, talk to them in person.

Maybe you already have a personal relationship with a coach in your local gym – have a word with him/her about the prospect of you two working together.

You should have a reasonable enough understanding of what their training methods are, what their beliefs are with regards to nutrition/dieting and what their personality is like before you hire them.

For example, after flicking through a few of my blog posts you should have a good idea of what kind of coach and person I am. And after flicking through one of my social media accounts, you’ll be able to see the type of training that goes on in our place and the type of people we have in it.

To revisit point number one, once you know these things you can check that they align with your values and beliefs and save yourself time switching from coach to coach when it doesn’t work out.

Closing thoughts

In my opinion, the most important traits a trainer can have are enthusiasm, open-mindedness and a genuine passion for helping others.

bad-personal-trainer
Not entirely ideal coaching.

Coaches with open minds are constantly in search of new knowledge, methods and techniques. They’re always striving to be better and are never afraid to hold their hands up and admit they were wrong.

These are the coaches who will progress through the industry and become more and more sought after over time.

The coaches who believe they know it all will stagnate and will still be doing the same things at age 35 that they were doing age 25.

Enthusiasm and passion can often be confused with extroverted personality.

Oftentimes, these can go hand in hand but don’t discredit the introverted trainer who’s just as enthusiastic and passionate about his/her job but just isn’t as comfortable shouting and screaming in the middle of a busy gym floor.

(NOTE: Again, see the values point. The last thing you’ll want, if you’re an introvert is a loud-mouthed extroverted trainer making a scene whilst you squat.)

I’d like to wish you the best of luck in not only finding the right trainer/program but also for 2016 as a whole.

Wanna work with us?

If you live in or around the Glasgow area and feel like we’d be a good fit working together, click here and spend a couple of minutes filling in our application form.

I look forward to learning more about you.

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