Taking the plunge into hiring a personal trainer can be a bit daunting. If you’re investing money in your health, you want to make sure you get results. But how do you find a personal trainer that’s worth it?
Let me tell you a quick story.
It’s not about a personal trainer. It’s about a locksmith.
Picture a locksmith. Brand new to the field.
Here’s his story.
He’s a newbie – he pretty much sucks at his job.
He’d get called to a job. Get started right away on the issue, but because he didn’t really know much, he would struggle. He would spend hours working on the lock problem but most of the time, ended up failing to fix the issues.
And then more often than not, he ended up doing the worst thing a locksmith can do.
He’d break the lock.
He’d have to replace it completely with a brand new one.
So he puts the new lock on and gives the customer a bill – one that has more hours of labor than it should plus the cost of the brand new lock.
Obviously a higher bill than the customers imagined.
But his customers willingly paid him and thanked him for his effort.
Now this locksmith knew he was bad. So kept working to get better. He spent hours practicing, working with new and different locks, learning and improving his skill. He worked his butt off to evolve into a better a locksmith. And after some time, he became a darn good smith.
He’d get called to a job and could open that lock in no time. It didn’t matter what kind of lock it was, he got it open. He never broke those locks. He was efficient and he was good.
But guess what happened?
When he handed the bill to the customers, they started challenging it. They didn’t want to pay his price for his service. It only took him a few minutes, a few simple tricks and then the job was done. So why were they paying so much?
It became a curious thing.
When the guy spent hours working, broke locks, and charged customers more – they thanked him.
When he was quick and efficient and charged customers less (since he wasn’t breaking locks and doing the job faster) – they challenged the price.
It’s all comes down to the perceived value.
When the guy was spending hours working, the customers thought that he was putting in a strong effort. He was working his butt off for them and they happily paid him more, despite not doing the job well.
But when he perfected his skill and could open the lock in no time flat, the customer’s felt they were getting jipped. They thought he was over charging for something that was easy for him to do.
The problem is that customers didn’t know all the hours of work, studying and practice that went in to making him proficient at his job.
They didn’t see the behind the scenes value of his skill. They just saw the few minutes he was in front of them working.
And if they could pick between the two locksmiths, they would take the one whose effort they could see.
But that isn’t the better locksmith.
This is just like finding a personal trainer.
You can walk into any ol’ gym and hire a personal trainer. You could pick the fittest trainer in the gym or the one that makes you laugh every session or the one with a freshly printed certification. Because those traits you can see and recognize.
But do those really matter when it comes to getting you results?
What matters when choosing a trainer isn’t always what you see.
The hard work, the energy and the hours working and learning that happened behind the scenes matters more than what’s on the surface.
Of course you want a trainer that will give you a good workout. One that brings good energy to your sessions. And one that’s accountable, on time and prepared.
But you also want a trainer that knows what they hell they are doing. One that continues to perfect their art. One that keeps up with the education behind fitness in order to become better at what they do. To get YOU more efficient results.
Because ultimately, getting fit is actually a science. A biological and physiological science. You have to understand how the body works in order to put together a training program that is effective. Someone that just stepped off a weekend personal training course might put in a valiant effort during your session. But if they have no idea what they’re doing, they will end up breaking your lock. Every single time.
And that’s not good for you. That’s a waste of your time and energy and your cash.
So instead of hoping your trainer knows a little something about getting results, choose a trainer that does. Choose a trainer that put in the time and energy to perfect their skill.
Don’t overpay for poor results. Invest in an educated, efficient and ever evolving trainer.
Here are 7 things to think about when you start your hunt for a trainer.
If they hit all these, you know they won’t end up breaking your locks.
Just like our locksmith friend, it’s important to know that your trainer knows what the heck they’re doing. First, make sure your trainer is has a personal training certificate. But know that not all certificates are created equal.
You can get someone who got “certified” over the weekend or someone who lives to understand all things health and fitness and puts in the time and energy (and money) to understand how the body works. These folks are worth the investment. Because they know how to get you results.
It’s not just talking the talk, it’s about walking the walk. Once you know that they have a legit certification, make sure they know how to actually use their knowledge and skills. Choosing a brand spanking new trainer is not always a bad thing, but is it a bit more risky? Yes.
Trainers with years of experience also have years of knowledge to rely on. They’ve likely had clients that have gone through the same challenges or obstacles you are facing. And they can use their experience to bring new ideas, new direction and new encouragement to your goals.
But someone fresh off the boat can still be a good fit as long as they have someone behind them, like a mentor or partner, with a bit more experience who can offer guidance and support when it’s needed.
If you want to train at 5am but aren’t a morning person, than a loud mouth cheerleader type might not be your best match. If you need someone to yell at you in order to push yourself harder, then you might need someone with a drill sergeant style. The personality of your trainer is just as important as their credentials and experience. Because you’ll likely be spending a few hours a week with this person, you want to make sure you like them (at least enough to follow their directions for a serious workout).
If you don’t mesh, you’ll start dreading your training sessions. And that leads to skipping them. And quitting the gym. And sitting on the couch, eating a family sized packed of Oreos all by your lonesome.
That trainer might know what they are doing and mesh well with your vibes, but if they always miss your session then you’re just throwing away money. Make sure your trainer is accountable to your sessions. Do they show up early to get things set up for you? Do they contact you if the plans have to change? I agree with the saying: if you’re on time, you’re late. Always be early (a good life lesson in general).
Making progress in your goals while avoiding injury requires proper form. (And if your trainer doesn’t even know proper form, then they probably have a crap certification and you should run far, far away).
But when they do know the form, they need to be able to call you out when yours sucks. You pay a trainer to guide you through a workout. And yes, they can be nice and positive, but if they aren’t willing to be blunt and correct you when you need it, then they aren’t helping you.
Trainers need to have confidence in their understanding of technique and form, be able to correct you when you’re off, find ways to help you build skill to improve your form and offer progressions when you aren’t ready for a certain skill or level.
Obviously, when looking for a trainer, you also need someone who practically fits into your life. Where they train, when they have availability and what their costs are can also play into your decision on whether it’s a good fitness relationship.
If your prospective new trainer made it through the first 6 tips with flying colors, then the last thing to evaluate is their passion for their job. You want someone who cares more about your progress than your wallet. Someone who trains because they love it, not because they think it’s a quick way to make a buck.
Personal training (or hiring for any job for that matter) is all about the love and energy a person brings to their role. Someone who loves what they do will always evolve and always find new ways to improve their craft. They will stay up to date with the new research, look for creative ways to do their jobs better and ultimately bring you better results.
If your trainer meets all 7 of these guidelines, then don’t ever let them go. Good trainers are hard to find.
Knowledgeable, talented and passionate trainers are rare.
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