10 Questions to Ask Before Hiring A Personal Trainer
Kindra Reid, CPT, CSCS, FMS
Personal training is not a “one-size-fits-all” group exercise class. It is not a “Workout of the Day” downloaded from the Crossfit mother brain and scrawled on a mirror or a whiteboard. It is not 200 people in a city park taking “boot camp” instructions from a screaming, bull-horn waiving, camo-clad weekend warrior sporting designer shades. Personal training is, well, personal. It is a service provided by a fitness professional to a client based on the client’s particular goals, abilities and limitations.
Now, before some of you start waiving pitchforks and threatening to storm the castle, let me make two things clear: First, group exercise, boot camp and Crossfit are all viable, relevant, enjoyable fitness options — depending on your budget, fitness level and interests. Good personal trainers can and do teach group ex, boot camp and Crossfit classes in addition to training clients, and can borrow from these exercise methodologies as appropriate. Second, personal training is not necessarily superior to other methods of fitness instruction. My point is simply that personal training is a different type of fitness service, and as long as you are in the market, you should get what you’re paying for.
What you’re paying for is an approach that is planned and purposeful. It is a result of a process that begins when a trainer conducts a personal fitness assessment and client intake; it proceeds according to a plan developed by the trainer on the basis of information collected during the fitness assessment and intake; and it evolves according to changes in a client’s goals, abilities and limitations – as discerned through regular client and program re-evaluation. This is, after all, the entire point of personal training. It is an implicit promise that a professional with a plan developed just for you can get you to your goals faster (and safer) than you could reach them on your own.
Consistent with this understanding of personal training, a good personal trainer should do three things: One, he or she should have your workouts planned in advance. They should be tailored to you, not a “workout of the day.” Second, you should be aware of why your trainer has you do the exercises and activities that he or she prescribes, what his or her plan is for your success, and when he or she will reevaluate your progress and program. Finally, in the event that a doubt or questions arises, he or she should be willing to consult your doctor, physical therapist, chiropractor or other health professional. Your trainer should understand that he or she is a member of a community of providers supporting your health and wellness – not a substitute for more qualified medical, therapeutic, or rehabilitative experts.
Before hiring a trainer, therefore, find out the following:
What is the trainer’s fitness philosophy?
How will he or she structure your workouts, and at what intervals will your plan be revisited?
How will he or she communicate with you about your program, abilities, limitations and goals?
Is he or she willing to be in communication with your health care providers should the need arise?