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If you are reading this article, there is a very good chance that you have a health & fitness goal that means a lot to you, and you are considering enlisting the help of a personal trainer. This can be a fantastic investment, the right coach can remove guesswork and pave the way for you to great success, providing support and accountability all the way through the process until you are ready to fly solo.
But not all personal trainers are created equal, the wrong trainer can waste your time and money and even in extreme cases be so abrasive that they actually leave you with a negative association with exercise, not ideal, especially if you are just starting out.
Of course, let's address the elephant in the room. I am a personal trainer writing a guide teaching you how to hire a personal trainer, I have a well known online personal training service, so of course I have a horse in the race, but I'm going to put all of that to the side, because I know that just like any interpersonal relationship, it comes down to right fit, and there are many wonderful trainers out there, in fact I know many of them, and interviewed many of them on my podcast.
What I will do with this article is help you spot the right fit for you, and avoid a trainer or service that is likely to waste your time.
The reason I am writing this, is because in a recent survey of my clients 92% had worked with another personal trainer before finding me, whether in person, online or with some kind of fitness app.
Here are some of the things they had to say about their experiences:
- “Previous trainers were slow to respond or unresponsive”
- “Previous training programs seemed generic or cookie cutter’”
- “Previous trainers failed to take into account changing circumstances like travel, family matters and work challenges”
- “The Trainer they worked with would make them feel bad about missing a workout or meal”
- “Previous regimes were restrictive, fixed and dogmatic”
- "My previous trainer just wanted me to do what he did everyday, but I'm just starting out. i'm not a bodybuilder"
- “The lead trainer of the business was unavailable for contact”
- “Coaches assigned to the client changed frequently and without warning”
- “Meal planning advice was basic and ill thought out”
- “Previous trainers seemed to lack depth of knowledge”
Not great. let's see how you can go about avoiding this kind of experience.
Finding the right personal trainer can be hard. In undertaking your research, you’re likely to find hundreds of trainers, some in person and some working as online fitness coaches, each offering different levels of service, different products and different approaches to their coaching. How can you know which one is right for you?
In short: there isn’t just one right answer. In terms of hitting your fitness goals, there are myriad approaches that you can take and still reach the end goal. Really, the key to any health & fitness goal is going to be consistency, so making sure you are in the right place straight out of the gate is very important
If you don't have faith in the program, trust your trainer and have a frictionless experience with the way workouts and meals are delivered, eventually your eyes are going to start to wonder, and you'll start to consider switching programs mid way through, and this is energy and focus that should be going into your training program.
The most linear route to your goals is to find an approach that works for you and to stay the course, but again if you are going to dedicate yourself to this, you need to know you are in the right hands.
This is where your choice of coach comes in - you’re not just looking for the best personal trainer, you’re looking for the best personal trainer for you. If you don’t get on with your fitness coach, or find yourself bumping up against their coaching style, you’re more likely to fall off track or look for more palatable alternatives elsewhere.
So what are the factors you should consider when finding a personal trainer that’s right for you?
Approach: From a coach's website, social media content and general messaging you will be able to get a an intuitive feel for their style of coaching. Would you rather work with a strict corrective style? Or would you benefit from a more encouraging style of coaching? If you really want to do a deep dive, perhaps they have longer form interviews and conversations you could listen to which could help you decide if they are the type of person you would like to be in regular communication with.
Who they work with: It pays to get a feel for the type of person your coach is actively trying to work with. Don't get me wrong a great personal trainer can adapt and work with almost anyone, but if you can clearly see that a trainer or coach is trying to attract 20 year old bodybuilders for example, and you are a 45 year old professional with 3 young children, your lifestyles will be completely different and whilst you might share similar goals the route to get there may be completely different and it pays to know that your intended coach would be sympathetic to and well equipped to help you overcome challenges you are likely to experience.
Communication: Some people require a face-to-face training session, or live coaching sessions, while others prefer the flexibility of training in their own schedule knowing that their online personal trainer is available for communication online via instant messaging or email. For others the ability to jump on a call with their coach is an important factor in making a decision. You'll need to know what the best form of communication will be for you to achieve everything you would like to on your program.
Accountability: Do you consider yourself a self-starter who will easily autonomously stick to a training plan? Or would you prefer that a trainer proactively prompt you when you start to go off-course? For some just knowing that there is a level of oversight and 'someone to be accountable to' will make all the difference in sticking to a program and create real long term habits.
Reputation: It is always reassuring to know that someone comes recommended. Many coaches will have testimonials and reviews available online. Find reviews from others with similar circumstances to yourself, and these comparisons may help you to decide if a trainer is right for you. Of course if a personal trainer you know has been featured in media publications often or has even had material written about them that is a good sign that additional third parties have vetted them for professionalism, qualifications and expertise.
Additional Services: For many trainers, a workout plan is only one aspect of their offering. Meal Plans, nutrition guidance, habit tracking, mindfulness, mobility, even life coaching are additional elements that may be on offer with some providers, so be sure to weigh up these options to decide how comprehensive a service you need.
Still not sure? make a shortlist of 3-4 trainers that could be a good fit and see if you can get them on the phone to discuss your goals, take some time to speak with them, don't buy anything on the call, just take some time to decide if they’re the right fit for you.
Of course, I would love you to consider my online personal training service. The link to schedule a call with me personally is below, I hope to speak with you soon.