7 Things to Look for when Hiring a Tallahassee Personal Trainer

Written by Keith Hansen

September 14, 2016

What to look for in a personal trainer

If you are new to fitness then you probably don’t know what separates the best trainers from the Average Joes. When you’re going to spend hundreds of dollars a month on a service - make sure it is a worthwhile investment. A good personal trainer will get you in the best shape of your life; a bad personal trainer can get you injured. There are a lot of choices of Tallahassee personal trainers and not all are created equally. Whether you are looking for a personal trainer or already have one here are seven ways to see how they measure up.

1. Does he/she hold a nationally accredited certification?

One of the first mistakes people make when shopping for a trainer is not asking what certification(s) the trainer holds. I have been a certified trainer for a few years and I have never been asked what certification(s) I hold. Early in my career I remember shadowing a woman that has been a trainer for close to 20 years and she said no one has ever asked what certification(s) she holds or if they are even current.

A certification isn’t a tell-tale sign of a great trainer, but it does act as a barrier to entry much like a four year bachelor’s degree does in today’s job market. One certification, the CSCS, even requires a bachelor’s degree. Find out if a prospective trainer’s certification is one of the few accredited by the NCCA (National Commission for Certifying Agencies), because these certifications usually take more time to earn and are a signal that the trainer is committed to their craft.

2. Does he/she have experience?

A certification is a great barrier to entry, but most people can study a book and pass a challenging test if they are motivated. The real education comes from work in the gym and earning this experience takes time. Fitness experience doesn’t always come from certified training time. A lot of experience comes from a trainer’s own workouts, how they dealt with injury (inevitable in fitness) and trial and error. When a trainer regurgitates information they read online or in a magazine without adding their personal experience (value) to it, they aren’t earning your money.

3. Continual Education

Almost every week I say to myself, “I’m a much better trainer than I was 6 months ago.” If your trainer can’t say that then steer clear of them because it means they aren’t growing professionally. I don’t care who they are, how long they have been a trainer or what their certifications are. There is always more to learn.

More research is being done every year and long-held fitness beliefs are being shaken all the time. The best certifications require continued education as a part of their recertification process and this ensures your trainer continues to grow. Is your trainer attending workshops and professional conferences? Are they  acquiring other quality certifications to meet the recertification requirements? Or are they doing the bare minimum, with something as mundane as at-home quizzes?

4. Location, Location, Location

DSC09846Big box gyms are notorious for hiring anyone with a training certification because trainers usually get paid by the session so it doesn’t cost the gym anything to have more trainers on staff. Often times you won’t even meet your future trainer until after you have signed a contract. On a good day, these same trainers might earn 50 percent of what the client pays, but unfortunately it is usually closer to 30 percent. It isn’t long before trainers realize what a raw deal they are getting for doing all the work after the initial sale and branch out on their own. The trainer’s that branch out on their own are the ones you want.

Independent personal trainers have a lot more invested in their career and often have their own private studio. Private studios are great because you don’t need a gym membership, you won’t wait on equipment (wasting a part of your session) and you can learn without unwanted attention.

5. Results from clients

Has he/she had success with your goals? There are a lot of variables in what makes a great personal trainer but results show the full picture. If you want to lose a significant amount of weight, ask if the trainer can show you pictures of a client that has done it. If you want to gain strength, can the trainer show you a video or workout logs for a client that has succeeded? If you want to move better, feel better and have more confidence is there a client’s testimonial you can read? Personal trainers wear a lot of hats and the salesman hat is definitely one of them. Make sure your potential trainer can walk the walk and not just talk the talk.

6.  Do they deadlift?

There isn’t a person walking the Earth that couldn’t benefit from more deadlifts. In our world of office chairs, couches, and car seats we have become increasingly weak on the backside. The deadlift is the cure to our modern postural problems and deadlifts require a good deal of mobility, control and full body coordination. Having a good understanding of the deadlift and the ability to teach it is a sign that your trainer has a good understanding of how the body moves and how to teach you to move. If your potential trainer can teach the deadlift they can probably teach you anything.

7. Are they listening to you?

Your initial consultation with a trainer should be a chance to get your needs on the table. This is your chance to tell the trainer exactly what you are looking for and to hear their plan on how to get you there. Your potential trainer’s job is to ask enough questions to flesh out your “problem” and then tell you how they can meet your needs. Beware of a trainer that is rattling off features of their program that have nothing to do with your goals -- obviously this person wasn’t listening to you, and they probably won’t listen to you later. The consultation process should be all about you so watch out for the salesman with an agenda.

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