So when it comes to Personal Trainers, as with anything, let the buyer beware. Here are a few signs that you may need to quit your Personal Trainer. Or you can reframe some of this information into questions to interview Trainers before you purchase training sessions with them.
Your Personal Trainer should be:
- CPR/AED certified - Accidents happen. Don't you want the person who's working out with you to have some understanding of how to revive you if need be? CPR/AED certification is just common sense whenever exercise is involved.
- Insured - Again, accidents happen. Liability insurance is a sign of a trainer's legitimacy and commitment to their profession. If you're using a Trainer at a gym, usually the gym covers the Trainer's insurance, but it's always good to check.
- Certified - I'm sorry... I'm a snob when it comes to certification, although there are some out there who will disagree with me. Yes, a piece of paper doesn't automatically make someone a great trainer, but it gives them an educational background and theoretical standpoint to develop programs and work with clients. Certification also demands keeping up with continuing education and CPR/AED certification.
1) They don't exercise themselves. When I was going through my certification, I shadowed some Personal Trainers in order to "get in the trenches." When I asked one how he kept up with his own fitness routine while managing his business, he seriously said to me "yeah, I don't work out. I get a little exercise here and there when I show clients what to do." ARE YOU KIDDING ME? Now, personal trainers don't need to look like Jillian Michaels or Bob Harper nor work out 6 hours a week, but they need to be a good role model for the advice that they prescribe to their clients. How can you take someone seriously who's telling you to work out 4 hours a week when they themselves have no fitness routine?
2) They don't stay current with trends and research in fitness/exercise/health. Science changes all the time. In order to keep clients reaching their goals, Personal Trainers need to stay abreast of new developments and insights. Certification helps with this as most organizations require 20 hours of continuing education to maintain certification.
3) They give you the same workout over and over. Yes, some program repetition helps build muscles and increases our endurance, but if you do the same exercise routine every other time you see your Trainer, something is off. There are numerous ways to tweak an exercise, from body placement to the use of "toys" (medicine balls, kettlebells, resistance bands, BOSU, etc). Incorporating different exercises or variations of the same exercise is good for our mind and body! Remember, our body is smart... when you give it a new challenge, it wants to conquer it. If you keep giving it the same routine, it no longer becomes a challenge and you'll plateau. A good Personal Trainer uses creativity to keep your body and mind engaged and enjoying the workouts!
4) They don't involve you in your exercise plan. Yes, the Personal Trainer is an expert and should design the majority of your plan. But a good Personal Trainer will ask you what exercises you enjoy, how the workout feels, if there is something different or new that you want to try. Now just because you don't enjoy pushups and tell your Trainer that doesn't mean s/he will cut them out of your program. But a good Trainer designs programs with their client's personality, strengths, limitations, and goals in mind. This is achieved through good communication. And a good Trainer is constantly tweaking their client's program as they continue to work together.
5) They don't include frequent assessments/challenges in your program nor revisit your goals regularly. You work with a Personal Trainer because you desire a certain outcome - lose weight, gain more energy, be able to run a 5K without falling over. You are paying them to help you make progress. A good Trainer will frequently complete assessments with you to see how you are progressing with your goals. The assessments could be measurements or physical challenges such as how long it takes you to run a mile or how many pushups you can do until you fatigue, depending on what your initial goals are. The use of these assessments shows you how far you've come and how close you are to your goal. If they're not frequently assessing your progress and your Trainer doesn't keep your goals in mind, what exactly are you paying them for?
What do you think? Have you worked with a Trainer who did (or didn't do) any of the above?
Any other signs that you need a new Personal Trainer?