How To Pick A Personal Trainer - 3 Fat Chicks on a Diet Weight Loss Community

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Old 04-26-2007, 09:30 AM   #1  
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Default How To Pick A Personal Trainer

A thread was started on the confusion over what to look for in a Personal Trainer... I took the best of that thread and made it a sticky

Originally Posted by Meg View Post
The price for an hour of personal training is really variable - anywhere from $30 to $100+ if you're in NYC or California or have a big name trainer.

My gym has five levels of training, with five prices, depending on the trainer's experience and credentials. But it's all negotiable! Think of it as buying a car. Tell them you can't afford it and I'll bet you'll see a price drop.

My gym also runs specials - 3 sessions for $99 is common. The goal is to get you hooked and sign you up for more, of course. But it's a great way to get started.

What I really want to emphasize to anyone who's thinking of getting a trainer is that you're in the driver's seat. Tell the trainer what you want and expect for your money. Don't let the trainer push you around and try to make you conform to his or her goals.

I wrote this up for a friend who was thinking of getting a personal trainer - maybe it will help you?

How To Pick A Personal Trainer

Begin by looking at the trainer’s certification(s). Some of the widely recognized, reputable certifications are ACE, ISSA, NASM, ACSM, and NSCS, among others. But a certification really doesn't tell you much about the person and how they would train you. So it's only a starting point.

Go into this the way you'd go into any consumer transaction. You're the customer and will be investing a fairly significant sum of money. Don't be pressured into a decision! Ballys tells us that people always buy on the basis of emotion - try not to fall into that trap. Take your time, be rational and thoughtful.

Sometimes it's a good idea to initially watch the trainers interacting with their clients (who looks bored, who's paying attention, who uses cookie cutter workouts for all their clients) and talk to existing clients. Or start off by talking to whomever is in charge of the trainers, briefly set out your goals, and ask to meet with someone who that person thinks who work compatitively with you. Specify if you'd feel more comfortable with a woman trainer.

When you meet with a potential trainer, it should be all about YOU and your goals, not about them. Don't be dazzled by someone's credentials, list of initials after their name, or being on the cover of some magazine. The first thing I always ask is: what are a client's goals - where would they like to be in six months or a year? These should be YOUR goals, not what a trainer thinks your goals should be.

After I hear someone's goals, I then talk about how we're going to achieve them with a weekly plan of nutrition, cardio, and weights. Ask for specifics, not vague generalities. Ask questions! See how knowledgeable the trainer is about nutrition (some know nothing). You've been around the diet and fitness world long enough to evaluate what you might hear - you know what makes sense and what to run screaming from.

Look for a sense of rapport with the trainer. Is he/she easy to talk to? Does he/she understand your goals? Can you see working with this person over the long term? Would he/she make working out fun? Trust your gut instincts here.

Assuming all is clicking so far, don't even consider buying without actually working out with the trainer. You want someone who will push you but not kill you, and that's sometimes a hard line to walk. Some trainers consider it a point of honor to try to cripple all clients, which is absurd and dangerous.

Make sure the trainer is watching and correcting you as you do an exercise, not gazing around the gym. Pay attention to see if it’s someone who just counts reps or someone who watches YOU and judges how hard to push. You want a trainer who can read your mind and know when to push and when to back off. When it’s over, ask yourself if it was fun? Was it a better workout than you could ever achieve on your own? Did you learn anything?

Every workout should be individualized and customized to help you achieve YOUR goals. I have a huge beef with trainers who use the same workouts with all their clients, or worse, the same workouts week after week with individual clients. Like it's Leg Day and you automatically do the same routine. Boring!! I keep track of all my workouts on my computer so that we never repeat a workout – we rarely even repeat exercises since there’s always a way to change them up and make them new and different.

If your gym is anything like my Ballys, they’ll try to pressure you into buying a big package of sessions right off the bat. It’s usually cheaper to buy a lot at once, but my suggestion is to resist and only buy a few – like four or six or whatever is offered. That way you can work out with the trainer for a few weeks and have a much better sense of whether this is someone who you want to continue with over the long term.

Originally Posted by Meg
In my opinion, both weightlifting and cardio are essential for fat loss. Cardio is your big calorie burner and my advice to clients is at least 30 minutes, 5 - 6 times a week. It sounds exactly like what you're doing, so keep it up!

As you get more advanced doing cardio (in other words, when it starts getting easier), think about adding in some interval training. If you haven't run into that before, it's moderate intensity cardio (70 - 85% of your max heart rate) with quick high intensity bursts (85 - 90% of max HR). A number of recent studies show that we burn more fat that way and it elevates our metabolisms for the rest of the day, so we're burning more calories all day.

Weightlifting (or resistance training, same thing) is equally important for weight loss. If we lose weight without exercising with weights, studies show that up to 40% is lost muscle and that's a bad thing. Muscle is the calorie burner in our bodies (think of it as little furnaces ) and the less muscle we have, the lower our metabolisms are and the fewer calories we need in a day to maintain. Without resistance exercise (weightlifting), you'll get to goal with a low metabolism and a body that looks like jello - and who wants that? With weightlifting, you'll be smaller and tighter, with a faster metabolism.

To keep your metabolism running high during and after weight loss, you want to be sustaining and even building muscle mass. And we do that by lifting weights or using weight machines. We all have problem areas but we can't spot reduce, unfortunately. So my recommendation is to start with a full-body workout, three times a week. Pick an exercise for each of the muscle groups - legs, back, chest, shoulders, biceps, triceps, and abs - and do 2 - 3 sets of 12 - 15 reps for each exercise.

I worked with a personal trainer and highly recommend it, if only to learn basic form and how to put a program together. But if that's out of the question, there are some good sites listed in the 'stickys' in the Ladies Who Lift forum to give you ideas about putting together a workout if you can't afford a trainer. I especially want to direct you to and Fitsite because they have little videos demonstrating how to do each exercise correctly.
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Old 01-26-2008, 02:25 PM   #2  
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I just wanna say that I agree wholeheartedly with this post. In being around my trainer, we vary our exercises each week with different muscle groups. She basis our sessions around what I have already done prior to seeing her, so its hardly ever the same thing. We talk inbetween reps, and I've learned that a lot of the trainers at my gym don't have any certifications. Last Wed while working out with her, I noticed that they hired a guy on the spot, and tossed him out on the floor with a new guy. The one they hired looked as old as my younger brother (13) and was telling the guy to do some bogus looking work, not to mention he didn't look like he knew his quads from his tri's. Beware ladies, they may be at your gym as well.
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Old 12-14-2008, 06:28 AM   #3  
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This is really interesting as one of my goals once I've dropped my weight is to do a qualification to become a personal trainer and reading this just reassures me that I'm in the right way of thinking to be one. Everything mentioned here is stuff that I have discussed with my husband so it's great to see it down in writing.

I know at my local gym they're quite pushy so I definately agree with the fact that I'm in the driving seat as a customer which is easy to forget sometimes.
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Old 02-02-2009, 07:00 PM   #4  
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Great advice!

I just called my Ballys and set up a session with a new trainer. I will definitely ask these questions, and pay attention to how she adjusts to my needs as a client!
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Old 03-03-2009, 12:19 AM   #5  
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At my gym the regular trainer staff also have trainer stretch sessions (20 minutes for approx $15), where they help you stretch out all the muscles including those that are hard to do on your own, and answer your questions about muscle pain, etc., which is oftentimes related to form. I'd say if your gym has something like these, or another type of basic service where you can test out the trainer staff a little, you should take advantage of it!

It'll be almost like an interview for your prospective future trainer, expect that you pay a little for it but on the other hand you get a good stretch of your sore muscles and learn some new stretches which are yours to keep.
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Old 09-03-2009, 12:54 PM   #6  
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I agree. I work with a trainer and he has 100% been the differance maker for me. I've lost 119 pounds working with him and it's his support, encouragement, pushing and adaptability that allowed me to do it.

He pays attention to what i need, how my body responds to various exercises and where my trouble area's are. He also encourages me to make fitness a lifestyle through other activities, not just the gym all the time. He designed my program for when I'm not at the gym and reviews it regularly, helps with goal setting...I could go on forever!
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Old 01-03-2010, 06:22 PM   #7  
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Originally Posted by getfitchicks View Post
I agree. I work with a trainer and he has 100% been the differance maker for me. I've lost 119 pounds working with him and it's his support, encouragement, pushing and adaptability that allowed me to do it.

He pays attention to what i need, how my body responds to various exercises and where my trouble area's are. He also encourages me to make fitness a lifestyle through other activities, not just the gym all the time. He designed my program for when I'm not at the gym and reviews it regularly, helps with goal setting...I could go on forever!
Sounds like an amazing trainer!
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Old 09-04-2010, 07:42 AM   #8  
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I'm just updating that now I'm doing small group personal training and I like it a lot. It's a lot more affordable as well. I like trainers who are encouraging and push me to try harder and do more, for sure.

Last edited by JessLess; 01-11-2011 at 12:00 AM. Reason: edited
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Old 01-26-2013, 04:20 AM   #9  
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I've been working with a personal trainer for a couple months and there's been an amazing difference in my fitness levels. I really like her and since I've started going out for rugby training the focus on training has been on getting rugby fit.

On the other hand, there's something about being a good client, too. If you're going to use a trainer, USE the trainer. No whinging, just working.
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Old 03-18-2013, 02:58 PM   #10  
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As a personal trainer, I agree with all of the above! Be prepared to talk about your specific goals, the challenges you face with meeting those, ANY injuries you have had, and if there is anything specific you want to focus on. A good trainer will ask you these things, so think in advance about them!

I speak with all my clients about nutrition. Please remember that unless a personal trainer is also a registered nutritionist, we actually are not allowed to give specific nutrition advice or diet plans. But a good trainer should know enough to guide you in the right direction, and should check in with you consistently about your eating habits.

If you like your trainer but feel the workout could be a bit different (you want more variety, a harder workout, etc), please tell them! Most trainers do care and are trying to help you achieve your goals, and while we look for all the signs that we are balancing a good workout with a killer workout, we cannot actually read your minds. So if you want something different, tell us! I ask my clients if they are satisfied, if they have any feedback, etc. A good trainer isn't afraid of a little constructive criticism.

I wholeheartedly agree with observing your trainer with other clients first. This tells you a LOT about that trainer. Do they seem to have a good rapport with their clients? Do they only use machines, or do they mix it up? When you watch them train, are they doing things you wouldn't have thought of? I've had people even ask my clients after their sessions if they enjoy my workouts, so I would encourage you to ask that trainers clients what they like about their trainer.
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Old 02-14-2015, 11:08 PM   #11  
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I love the post. I've never had a personal trainer - but this is definitely good advice if I ever want to pursue one.

For the single ladies out there- shouldn't charming good looks be a big factor when considering a personal trainer?

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Old 03-03-2015, 04:00 PM   #12  
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This is a great sticky. I completely agree. Ladies, we should watch out for these bogus guys. I'm shocked they would even hire guys without certification. It seems like it would give the gym a bad image.
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Old 03-23-2015, 07:42 AM   #13  
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Thanks for your advice. Great to know.

I tried it once but I was really unsatisfied.
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Old 04-28-2015, 02:28 AM   #14  
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Depending on your needs, those qualifications are indeed essential!
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Old 03-20-2016, 06:22 PM   #15  
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I will have to look into finding a personal trainer eventually! These tips will definitely help me
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