By Jess Tull, NASM-CPT, NASM-CES
There are so many options when it comes to the fitness industry. So many different types of gyms, centers, facilities, and trainers. Maybe you’re on the hunt for the best place to workout or a good personal trainer, and you’re wondering for what you should be looking. Here are a few tips about the key things you should find in any personal trainer, whether it’s in groups or in a more private and personal 1on1 setting.
This is one of the most important things that should be present in any gym environment and with every trainer. They should always conduct themselves in an appropriate and professional manner, being sure to honor and respect the work place and the clients. The gym should be clean, well kept, and organized, and trainers should be attentive to the needs of the clients at all times. Prior to working out new clients should always be given a PAR-Q (pre-activity readiness questionnaire) and have a thorough conversation with the trainer about past and present injuries or health risks so the trainer is aware of and able to adapt to any unique situations. They should also have a conversation about goals and goal setting, so the trainer best knows how to help their clients execute and achieve those goals.
This is a very important key to look for at any gym. Is the staff sufficiently and professionally certified to do what they do? You want to make sure any trainers you’re working with have the appropriate knowledge of movement, exercise and potential risks factors of working out and various health concerns, so you can have confidence in putting your health in their hands. A couple key things to look for are either a college degree in exercise science or a current nationally accredited certification for personal training. Don’t be shy about asking what education and experience your current or potential trainer has!
Not only should they be certified in one of the above ways, but they should also always be looking towards continued education. The health and fitness industry is constantly changing with new research and knowledge, and trainers need to be staying current and up to date. To be the best they can be for their clients they should be pursuing continued knowledge of movement, strength training, injury prevention and rehab, etc.
Although a bit more tangible than the pointers above, this is an important one. When you’re working with a trainer either in a group or 1on1 setting, you need them to be perceptive to you. They need to know when to push you and when to not. They need the ability to take you to your limit, but know what’s too far and when to back off. In a group class, are they aware of and interacting with every client? Are they giving suggestions for weight, and telling you to lighten it if they perceive it could be too heavy and form is lacking, or go heavier if they know you’re capable? In a 1on1 environment, are they constantly aware of your level of exertion, fatigue, and in communication about how you feel? Be sure your trainer is attentive to you and your needs to the degree that they’re capable in various settings. This is a valuable trait for them to have, and although it may take some time to discover it’s part of what makes a solid professional.
Lastly, also less concrete, comes a very important piece to the success you may or may not see with your trainer. Personality. Do you respond well to them? Different people respond better to various types and styles of training, and you want to be sure your trainer’s matches you. For some a more sympathetic, encouraging, lively, and engaging personality will be a good fit and bring out the best effort in them, while for others it may be more of the intense, active, and appropriately demanding (yet polite and attentive) type that brings out their max work capacity. Be sure to communicate with your trainer to get to know their training styles and what you respond to best to ensure you will have the most effective working relationship.
So there you have it! Just a few pointers to help you determine what may be the best fit for you in regards to a trainer or a gym. They can be things as important as education to as simple as personality match, but every aspect is key in successfully achieving your goals in fitness and health with the help of a trainer.