I have an important question for you here, so listen up…

“Are you overpaying your personal trainer?”

That question probably just put a few people on guard, but it’s a very important question to ask yourself. You work hard for the money you spend, and we as coaches and trainers ask you to spend a lot on us, so it’s not unfair to ask yourself whether your trainer is worth the price tag.

Take it from an insider in the fitness world, the majority of fitness instructors and personal trainers are just flat out not good. Many of them are approaching the fitness field with the idea that this is just a job, not a career, and when someone begins to think this way, the punch-in/punch-out for my shift mentality is not far behind.

Instead of this turning into just another rant that bashes terrible trainers and coaches, let’s do something different; something that will help you identify the great trainers, coaches and instructors, from the frauds out there that just got a weekend certification and think they are entitled to outrageous price tags.

In this post I will outline four quick things to look for in a trainer, coach, or instructor, that will help you identify the people who really have something to offer you, from the people who just want to make a buck off of you and essentially have you pay them to be a really expensive friend for an hour.

The first thing to look for in a future personal trainer (or evaluate in your current on) is PASSION. Ask yourself these questions:

- Are they passionate about fitness?

- Do they show you this through their actions?

- Does their passion for fitness lead them to actually looking the part? (I'm not saying they need to look beyond ripped, but they should look like they practice what they preach.)

If you answered yes to these three questions, we’re starting in the right place, if not, ask yourself, “Do I really want to pay someone up to/over $100/hr who does not care about me?”

A good personal trainer, would show you the answers to these questions through their actions. If your trainer/coach/instructor exhibits this kind of passion, then there is hope for them yet, if not, put that money back in your wallet!

The next thing you want to make sure of is that they are actually listening to you. 

We have all heard the saying, “you have two ears and one mouth for a reason.” This should be extremely evident in the person you hire to guide you through your fitness journey. Now I’m not saying that they shouldn’t speak much (I certainly love to talk, and I’d be the biggest hypocrite if I said otherwise), but they certainly should be more focused on you and retaining any information and feedback you’re giving them.

Now don’t get confused here, just because they are listening to you, doesn’t mean that they should cave into your idea of what you need from your workouts. After all, that’s why you are coming to them, their expertise and knowledge of what you need.

As an example, let’s say I have a client who tells me that they really want to work on their arms in their program, but when I assess them I see that they can't perform a single push up or chin-up. This client would probably get a whole lot more out of working on performing a proper push up and chin up for their arms than all the bicep curls and kick backs they can do in an hour. However, if it was up to the client, they may assume that I’m not listening to their goals, because they were under the impression that those same curls and kick backs were the way to go about working their arms. Still, I would acknowledge that I’ve listened to their concerns and communicate why I’m going the route I’m going.

Some great questions to ask yourself to determine whether your trainer is actually listening to you:

    - Do they take notes?

    - Are they able to explain to you why they chose each exercise, set/rep scheme, etc. for you to show they actually listened to your goals?

    - Are they checking in with you periodically to make sure you are both on the same page? (this one also goes back to caring/passion)

The third quality you should seek out is a strong desire to learn and get better at their craft.  We generally refer to this as continuing education.

A great fitness professional should be constantly reading, attending seminars, and actively learning how to become better at what they do.

There are far too many people out there that take a quick weekend trainers certification (now a days I think you can even just do it online) and think because they like to workout, and they have a piece of paper from an obscure company saying they’re a certified trainer, means that they know it all. 

That being said I have also seen a lot of college grads with a kinesiology degree take that same mentality. The truth is most of those certifications, and even some of the college degrees out there, leave you woefully under-prepared and uneducated. Generally the folks that claim to know the most seem to know the least, because they stopped trying to learn anything new.

Ask your current/potential trainer/coach/instructor these questions;

    - Who are your favorite people, websites, etc. to read in regards to fitness?

    - What was the most influential book you’ve read in your field?

    - What was the last conference, continuing education course, etc. that you attended?

The last thing to look for in the personal you have or are looking to hire for help is, are they assessing you?

This may sound basic, but I can’t tell you how many times I’ve seen trainers taking clients out on the floor the very first time they meet, and before even asking them a few basic questions about their goals, injury history, etc., they start trying to impress the future client by beating them into submission with a grueling workout. No movement screening or anything, just right into it.

If they haven’t done any kind of assessment of you, gathered any injury history, or seen how your body moves in space, how could they actually formulate a workout much less an actual program customized specifically for you?

The answer: they can’t!

Now these are just four small things to look for in the person you may potentially spend your hard earned money on. Hopefully this is a helpful guide for you and will help you to not feel like you’re getting ripped off, and left with no results to show for it.



Leah Landau
08/14/2014 12:54pm

Love this article

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