There are many reasons you might be interested in hiring a personal trainer. Maybe you want to get in shape, but can’t motivate yourself to exercise alone. Maybe you can motivate yourself to exercise alone, but don’t have a structured training routine. Maybe you do have a routine, but aren’t sure you’re performing the exercises correctly. If you need guidance and support to achieve your fitness goals, consider these six things before you hire a personal trainer.
1. What do you hope to accomplish by working with a trainer?
Artists dabble in a variety of fields including music, poetry, and sculpture. Being skilled at one art doesn’t automatically make you a master of them all. An amazing pianist could be a lousy poet, and I doubt many actresses know how to sculpt an ice animal. Personal trainers also have diverse skill-sets. Some trainers help people achieve specific fitness goals like fat loss, muscle gain, or strength development; others specialize in athletic goals like a faster mile, higher jump, or stronger tackle; and others focus on special populations like seniors, rehab patients, or stay-at-home moms. Make sure to choose a trainer who can meet your needs.
2. What days and times would be most convenient for my schedule?
How would your dentist feel if you failed to show up for your teeth cleaning three times in a row? Irritated, I bet. Your training sessions shouldn’t be treated any differently. Personal trainers have busy lives just like you, so don’t make a habit of canceling unless you have an emergency. Save yourself some trouble by figuring out exactly how many days you would be able to commit per week before your initial consultation. If training for a full hour would be inconvenient, ask about the availability of half hour sessions.
3. What coaching style would motivate you most?
Personal training isn’t like a franchise restaurant, where you can expect to have the same experience at every location. Aggressive trainers might use a stop-watch to keep a close eye on rest periods, command you to push through one more repetition (with good form!), and help you set more personal records than you can keep up with. Playful trainers might take a session outside, throw fun twists on common exercises, and help you avoid getting bored with your training. Most trainers are somewhere in the middle and can shift gears as required, but ask if they offer a trial session to ensure you’re a good match.
4. Do you have any conditions that need to be considered?
Be prepared to answer a long list of questions about your medical history when you meet with a personal trainer. These questions should not be taken lightly. Leaving out an essential detail could result in unsafe and ineffective training practices. Also familiarize yourself with the side-effects of any medications you might be taking. If you have a life-threatening illness like cancer, you might want to find a specialist. The more serious your condition, the more cautious you should be.
5. How much can you afford to spend?
It is wise to invest in yourself, but not many people can afford to pay a trainer’s average cost of $50/session for very long. Fortunately, there are several ways to get the help you need at a cost you can afford. You could ask your local YMCA if they offer financial assistance for personal training (typically they do). You could find a trainer who offers small group training and split the cost with a friend or two. You could structure your training sessions in a logical way that produces cost savings. A common example of this is to begin with three sessions per week – because it takes time and practice to learn proper form – and then gradually scale down to one session per week. Most trainers will create a routine you can do on the days you don’t have sessions for an additional fee.
6. Would you feel more comfortable working with a male or female?
Your relationship with your personal trainer is… well, personal. Some women might find it difficult to discuss issues like disordered eating with a male trainer. Some men might not want to be upfront about their struggles with a female trainer. Be open to the possibility that a trainer could surprise you. But if you think working with a man or woman would influence your ability to open up in a big way, choose accordingly.
Are there any considerations you would add to this list? If so, please share them in the comments. Thanks for reading!
About the Author
Daniel Wallen is the CEO (Chief Empowerment Officer) of the Wallen Way. He is a personal trainer, Lifehack contributor, and author of, “The Busy Woman’s Guide to Getting Fit, Fierce, and Fabulous.”