The truth of the matter is eventually you will have to decide how to go about hiring a trainer to meet your needs. The fitness industry is full of willing trainers who want to provide their services to you and make you fit/healthy but not every trainer will be right for you -- this post is where I break down some things to look for/consider when on the search for a trainer.
1) Decide if prefer to have a trainer who is training you one-on-one in person or if you would much rather have a trainer who only supplies online services (believe it or not, many trainers have now started businesses where they do online workouts/ programming instead of having to meet the client face to face) it is becoming more popular, but trainers like myself who indeed love meeting our clients face to face still exist.
2) Do you have specific needs? I realize trainers are normally generalized as being able to help most individuals meet their goals but some trainers have specialties --- something that are more passionate about, better at, or provide betters results for (i.e youth training, training women, bodybuilders, sports specific trainers, college athletes, etc) so depending on your goals, you might find that certain trainers are better at providing the services you need vs others.
3) Do you feel comfortable with your trainer? This is very important, especially when you first meet the person because character says everything about a person, and you want a trainer whom you will get along with, feel comfortable talking to/asking questions, and someone who understands your needs. Many people base trainers off of their body type, or level of popularity but it should go much deeper than that because looks and popularity don't mean they have a personality that meshes with yours.
4) Does your trainer look the part? Now, in the previous paragraph, I mentioned how looks and popularity aren't as important as the trainers character and how well you get along with them but looks do play a small part in what you should look for because you want someone who takes care of their physique and follows a healthy lifestyle -- this motivates you the client to follow the same lifestyle choice & proves that the trainer is not all talk but also follows their own advice/information they share with you.
5) Find a certified personal trainer -- this is very important! due to everyone calling themselves a personal trainer, it is important you weed out who is certified and who isn't, and find out who they are certified by (also can make a difference) because everyone who exercises probably can provide some form of knowledge on exercise but when a trainer is certified, it proves they took the extra steps to grow /expand on their knowledge and studied on different forms of exercise, etc. It isn't safe to train with someone who isn't certified because if you get hurt on their watch and have to sue or discontinue services with the trainer, they have no liability to cover your expenses -- it's risky business on both parties because if you aren't certified as a trainer, you are risking other people lives with no insurance, no cert to prove your skill set and no backing when it comes time to provide facts -- most your knowledge will come from experience only & people are individuals so experience is helpful but experience alone doesn't cut it. Now in some states/countries you don't need to be certified to train clients, in those cases, that's fine because it is legal, but in states where they require it, it is best to find someone who is certified.
6) When I said who they get certified through matters, it does to a certain extent, for example my certification is through ACSM (gold standard and held at a very high regard when it comes to personal training, along with NSCA-CPT) now this doesn't mean ACE fitness, NASM aren't good certified trainers (they are) but each certification provides different questions and understanding of fitness from different scopes. My certification is not only based on personal training but also clinical situations as well (hospitals, clinics, etc) and also allows me to work with individuals who suffer from obesity, high blood sugar, hypertension, diabetes, etc. where not all certifications talk about these populations & how to train them , etc. I could basically work in a clinic or hospital or choose to work in a gym or my own business. Now, some of the other certs have these options as another form of getting certified with these specific populations but if they don't offer that option, then it becomes a learning curve for the trainer.
7) Does your trainer have a college degree? this isn't necessary to become a personal trainer but having a trainer with a college degree might add to their knowledge base and have shown to add to their experience with interning, etc. We all know that just because someone has a college degree doesn't mean they are smarter or more capable and doesn't mean they will utilize those skills or have learned anything -- but a college degree sometimes just shows they put the extra effort into this profession and was looking to hopefully better themselves and expand on their abilities and gain more expertise. I have my degree in exercise science but doesn't mean I know everything -- but it does prove that I took the time to get a degree in something I am passionate about and interned with various places to earn my skill set and connections. Sometimes when a trainer goes the extra mile, it can prove worthy.
8) Find a personal trainer who stays within their scope of practice. Seriously. You wouldn't believe how many personal trainers (certified and not certified have literally created meal plan programs, etc for clients) this is OUTSIDE THEIR SCOPE OF PRACTICE. Personal trainers are NOT nutritionist or doctors/nurses, physical therapist or anything outside of an exercise professional. They can definitely be broad about giving you nutritional information but they should be honest in how far they go with it and provide only what they know and not advice. There are exceptions, when a personal trainer has a certification in nutrition, when they have a degree in nutrition or when they are medical doctors, physical therapist, etc. Being a personal trainer alone, does not give them permission to give out meal plans, etc. because again safety situation, if something they put in your meal plan program makes you sick or causes health issues.. they can be sued. Not worth it. I am always upfront with my clients about what nutritional information I can give and whatever information I can't give, , I am going to refer them to a nutritionist or a medical doctor or physical therapist depending on what their needs are.
9) Pricing, I realize personal training can be expensive depending on the circumstances and demographics. Although this depends on how serious you are about wanting to reach your goals -- becoming a better, healthier, happier you. The price might be high, but so are your standards because they deserve to be -- & you want to be the best you, so it is worth spending a little money to do so. On the other side of this; pricing for personal training should match the trainers worth -- if a trainer isn't certified and has no college degree and no experience then their pricing shouldn't be high but if they have the background, education, experience and provide knowledge/and address your questions & concerns, maybe their price is worth it. You are the judge of your finances (you know what you can afford). I tend to offer discounts, freebies, but that is because I want to make sure my clients can afford me and make them feel comfortable with the pricing and while I have educational background, experience and certification, I haven't been training very long to say that I am a pioneer, so I make my pricing fair (not everyone will) but you can determine their worth based on their credentials.
10) Is your personal trainer professional? Seriously, in some regard, they need to be. How they dress for work, how they present themselves to you, how they speak, do they provide appropriate documentation to your consultations? These are important because you want a personal trainer with a good presentation, and takes their job seriously -- your healthy, safety and goals are serious matters & if your trainer comes off like they don't care, or they are sloppy, or fail to address your needs, then they aren't any good. Personal training is a profession in the fitness industry, so they need to be professional -- still maintain a personality but doesn't mean they should be cussing up a storm, disrespecting members, vain, degrading, or potentially careless.
11) Now this might not be true for all trainers, but I live by the philosophy that if I can't perform the workout/exercise I am having my client do, then I won't have them do it. If your trainer cannot perform a squat with proper form/technique, then they definitely shouldn't be having you do it, because how else will you know if you are doing it correctly if your trainer can't even do the movement correctly? I have seen trainers where they have their clients do movements like handstands, deadlifts, snatches, power cleans, etc but their form is poor or they struggle with the exercise, yet they have their client doing it -- putting the client at risk for injury. Have your trainer demonstrate the movement BEFORE you perform it.
12) Does your personal trainer rush through the workouts with you, or leave time at the end to spend talking with you about the training, health, life outside of the gym. I have had clients back to back and still manage to give each of them an extra 5 minutes of my time to go over information, talk about the next training day, ask questions, address concerns because that is important & at the very least if they can't stay and chat -- then the trainer should make it a point to send an email/text or call the person to go over those things; maybe in the beginning it won't matter to you -- but if you begin to not see any results.. then you might rethink this. I believe some trainers rush through clients to get as many clients as possible in one day so they can get more $$, but for me personally, it doesn't matter how many I have ( I want a full list of clients) but what matters most to me, is keeping you accountable outside the training days & making sure I talk with each individual, so that my clients feel as though they matter -- they aren't just a walking ATM machine.
13) Does your personal trainer have a place set up for you to train? a space that is safe, and provides equipment that fits your needs, and allows for you to have ample space to perform the exercises. If the space is outside, did your trainer make sure it was safe terrain for the prescribed exercise, did they take into account the weather, did they make sure to provide water or remind you to bring your own beverage. Some trainers have it where they can train clients inside a gym due to them working for the facility or have a deal where they pay the owner overhead in order to utilize the space/equipment. Some trainers have their personal space at their homes (garage, basement, driveway, etc) which is fine if you feel comfortable training at their home, but the trainer should still make sure they have proper insurance in case you hurt yourself on their property -- in cases where they train you at your residence, make sure you can trust the person first and know their motives/intentions. The trainer should be upfront about the environment in which they will be training you in, so that you can decide if it meets your needs, and makes you comfortable doing so.
When it comes to choosing a trainer, it takes time to decide if one fits the bill, but take your time and really go over everything that is important to you, that way you can eliminate those who don't fit your requirements. In order to reach results with the help of a personal trainer, you need to be picking in choosing one, because not every trainer is the same -- everyone is an individual in this job profession. I hope if anything, I fit these standards of a trainer, part of the reason why I did this post is because I feel as though I do fit these standards & want to set people up for success in searching for a trainer. Feel free to leave comments/feedback & email me if you find yourself in need of a trainer, I would be glad to help!