Personal training is one of the fastest growing industries in the world. In addition to many people who are aspiring to become trainers, there are also a staggering number of people who are making career changes. They see the opportunity to help others and are jumping at the chance. If you could make a material difference in someone’s life and pay the bills at the same time, would you do it? Many people would; I’ve helped a few people make the transition and they’ve made great careers for themselves.
The personal training industry has come a long way. When I first started there weren’t many who viewed what they were doing as having long term career potential. Ten years ago, my peers were mostly actors/actresses, waiters/waitresses, bartenders, students and other people who looked at personal training as a supplement to their real life goals. But not anymore. The game has changed.
So many people who could have been doctors, lawyers, economists, nurses, web developers, scientists and the list goes on are dedicating themselves instead to careers in an industry that seeks to build health and happiness.
What I see now are extremely smart, motivated people taking up this career and really making a life out of it. And it’s great. With this surge over the last decade, it has legitimized the industry.
Top 5 signs you have a good trainer.
Every profession has its bad apples but you’re in luck; the personal training community is booming with talent and there are so many amazing people doing great things every day. To help you select your trainer or feel really good about your current trainer here are my top 5.
1. They arrive early or on time.
Your trainer should arrive on time if not early to your session eager and bushy tailed to train you. It is absolutely unacceptable for you to get anything less. The average cost per session is between $85-$100/hr and the client should feel a strict sense of urgency in the trainer. Despite the session dynamic whereby the trainers tell their clients what to do for the hour they are together, the trainer should never lose focus on the fact that her/his client is their boss and that they ultimately call the shots.
2. They are prepared & set up.
Their work area should be set up for a smooth session. Gym settings can be busy. Your trainer should have scanned the work environment ahead of your session to ensure that all the tools required for your program are available and should be mentally prepared for quick changes on the fly. A good tip for the new trainer is to always ask how the client is feeling that day. If their energy is low that day, the trainer’s job is to tune to that level and to provide the best possible session given the circumstances.
3. They write effective & fun programming.
You’ve paid a lot for the hour. Your trainer should arrive with a program. Every trainer with experience can make something half decent up in their heads, but is that okay? *sigh* No! It is unacceptable to me that they would not prepare something tailored to your goals ahead of time. And no trainer is so brilliant that they can track your entire progress over months and months in their head. Your goals are not so simple that the sequence of movements can just be ‘a random collection of stuff that seemed to work at the time’. Absolutely not okay. It says to me that they’re lazy and that they have lost respect for your time. Your trainer should arrive with an exciting program full of items that balance what you find fun with what will give you the most benefit (they are certainly not always the same).
4. They understand the scope of practice of the personal trainer.
Physicians are lifeguards. Trainers are swim coaches. When you need a lifeguard, you need a lifeguard, not a swim coach. But, if you need a lifeguard, you probably needed a swim coach and didn’t get one. ~Greg Glassman
This one is a biggie. There are more and more quality continuing education courses out there that offer us (trainers) really good, hands on, practical applications, particularly in the soft tissue realm. But, if we really want the best for our clients’ health and well being, we should refer them to the best in our networks. We’re better for it. Every good trainer will push their clients outside of their comfort zone and ultimately, where there is intensity, there will be tweaks and periodic injuries. If an injury comes up- referrals to quality professionals should be made. While we as trainers may have really good practical skills for soft tissue release, I believe these skills are best used minimally, and as a conversational asset between trainers and rehab professionals. There are people who dedicate themselves solely to rehab; let’s not think because we took a weekend course that we’re on the same level as them professionally. Side note: this does go both ways; in my experience, I’ve seen some boring personal training administered by rehab specialists that nearly put me to sleep just watching it. Pass the puck, doctor.
5. They focus on the client.
This one is the mother of them all. The trainer should focus on you. What a concept. If your trainer drones on about themselves for an hour or pays attention to other more exciting things happening in the gym- you need to walk. Find someone else. Believe me- there are so many wonderful, motivated, inspiring fitness professionals out there that can’t wait to find a client like you who will be seriously excited about your results. Have high standards and send a clear message by putting your hard earned money somewhere else- don’t worry about hurting anyone’s feelings- they never respected your sessions in the first place.
Your trainer should arrive early, be organized, take you through effective and fun programming, work within their scope of practice, and focus on you. If you’ve found a trainer who checks all of the above boxes- you’ve got a keeper. Those are my absolute Top 5. Personal training is a massive investment on the client’s part, both in time and in money, and the trainer will do well to never lose touch of that. The good news is that nearly every trainer I know is great, and it has become quite easy for me to spot the good ones. So do your research, watch their body language in a session to get a feel for their approach, and vote with your money. By working only with the best, you’ll get better value for your dollar and you’ll raise all the boats in the harbour.
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