Fitness Corner: How to find your perfect personal trainer

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Pritam Potts

These days there are endless opportunities to work with a personal trainer! Small independent studios, large commercial gyms, specialty studios, trainers that come to your home, trainers that train out of their homes, to name just some of your options.

But with so many options, how do you find the trainer that is right for YOU? We each come with our own set of physical limitations, injuries, fitness goals, etc. So it’s going to be on you to find the right trainer, but what do you look for when you decide you want to start training with someone? Here are a few ideas to help narrow it down.

Referrals: Talk to people. Put it out on social media and/or ask your friends, colleagues or family. Find out as much information as you can to see if their trainer sounds like someone you’d consider working with. If you can get a referral from someone with similar issues as you, even better, but remember that a good trainer can adapt to a variety of client needs. Just because your co-worker talks about how her trainer is so tough, doesn’t mean that her trainer can’t adapt to work with your knee issues and the fact that you’ve never lifted a weight in your life, for example.

Qualifications: Certifications look great on paper, but I’d put way more weight (no pun intended) on how much experience the trainer has. Anyone with absolutely no experience or education can obtain a certification, so be aware. Look for certification by the NSCA, ACSM, ACE or NASM. These organizations are accredited by the National Commission for Certifying Agencies (NCCA) and have the most credibility in the industry.

Experience: The longer a trainer works with people and the more people a trainer works with, the more he or she will learn. That’s not to say newer trainers can’t be excellent trainers. Regardless, don’t ever be afraid to ask a ton of questions, and when in doubt, speak up if you don’t feel comfortable with the exercise you are being asked to do or the amount of weight you are being asked to lift. Heavier weight does NOT automatically equate to a better workout.

Compensation: Think of it as an investment in yourself. No one says a word when a therapist charges $200/hour for sitting and listening, but a trainer plays multiple roles (including listening!) all the while running a personalized workout tailored to each person’s injuries and limitations yet designed to challenge and grow the client’s conditioning levels. This takes a ton of work and energy! Not to mention the overhead on gym equipment and a space out of which to train. As trainers, our time and experience is our very livelihood. We really appreciate feeling valued for it.

Rapport: Go meet the trainer. Is the trainer easy to talk to, do you get a good feeling from him or her? Is there a level of comfort? Check out the space. Is the space convenient to your home or work? Can you see yourself in there several times a week? There has to be a certain level of trust in the trainer, and you have to like them, or it’s probably not going to work out in the long run.

If working with a personal trainer interests you, the perfect trainer for you is out there!

Pritam Potts, owner of Advanced Athlete LLC, is a NSCA-certified trainer and strength coach with 15-plus years of experience working with athletes and clients of all ages. Her specialty is in functional strength applications, developing core and overall strength and coordination specifically for the purpose of enhancing the body’s ability to function optimally and safely in athletic movement. You can find her online at facebook.com/advancedathlete and twitter.com/advancedathlete.

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