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12 Things To Remember Before You Choose A Personal Trainer

12 Things To Remember Before You Choose A Personal Trainer

The fitness industry is a 27 billion dollar per year industry and it’s no surprise that personal trainers are popping up everywhere to fill the demand.

Becoming A Personal Trainer Is Easy

And while there is a strong demand for trainers, unfortunately the educational requirements are low – there are none. Literally anyone over the age of 18 can become a personal trainer and there is no shortage of organizations that offer a weekend course, a simple test, and an official certification paper.

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After 16 years as a certified personal trainer, I’ve seen my share of good trainers and more than my share of bad ones. Because the barrier to entry is low in this field, anyone who thinks he or she can make quick cash by taking a basic exercise science test, getting  certification, and hanging a sign out front, can sell himself to the public as a fitness professional.

And because it’s an unregulated industry, people are suckered every day by greedy and unscrupulous trainers looking to cash in on your ignorance about fitness. The good news is there are plenty of qualified and worthy trainers out there and they can be a huge asset to helping you achieve your fitness goals. Here is why having a quality personal trainer is important:

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  • Motivation. Let’s face it, most people are not motivated to get off their butts and do the hard work necessary to make a permanent change in their lifestyle. Our society breeds laziness and many people need a push to get them going.
  • Education. Have you ever walked into a gym and felt totally lost? There are dozens of complicated machines, big burly meat heads clunking around the free weight section, and you find yourself sheepishly gravitating towards the only thing you know how to use… the treadmill. A good trainer will help you understand how to use exercise equipment, how to be safe while using it, and why you’re using it.
  • Accountability. We all know that new habits are challenging to form, especially exercising. Hiring a trainer will not only put your wallet on the hook, but you should expect to be held accountable to your goals. A good trainer will remind you why you are paying him and push you enough to take action towards your fitness goals.
  • Self-reliance. The aim of any quality trainer should be not only to help you reach your goals but to teach you to become self-reliant in the gym. When you see the same person working with the same trainer for years on end, it’s a sign that he is still dependent on them. Your trainer should be helping you understand your exercise program and how, when and why to change it in the future.

Hiring A Personal Trainer

If you are in the market for a personal trainer, you have your work cut out for you. Unfortunately, most people use Google to find one or use a referral from a friend. But even then, it’s extremely important to do your due diligence. I’ve trained hundreds of clients over the years and I have rarely been asked for my credentials, educational background, or client testimonials. It’s scary and although I consider myself to be an excellent trainer, I could have easily been a shoddy one.

Now when I meet a prospective client I tell them to ask questions before making a decision. After all he or she will be spending hard-earned money and it’s critical that he or she hire a quality person. So, here are 12 things to remember when you choose your personal trainer:

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  1. What is their experience? Make sure you ask them about where they have worked and in what capacity. A trainer can call themselves a fitness professional after working at a local gym as a front desk attendant. You should know where they have trained, how they train, and why they train. The “why” is the most important question of all.
  2. Do you like them? This is very important. You will be spending a great deal of time (and money) with them and if you don’t connect well, it will make for a less than productive relationship. I’ve trained clients who I didn’t like and vice-versa and it’s an uncomfortable situation.
  3. Do you feel they are honestly interested in helping you? I’ll admit it, I am a great salesman when it comes to selling my personal training services. But I’m so good at it because people can tell that I care about them. Beware of slick salesman types who seem more eager in getting you to sign up for 30 sessions and less interested in understanding how they can help you.
  4. Are they insured? Personal trainer (PT) insurance is not mandatory but I strongly recommend not hiring one without it. Why? What if you get hurt during training? Most trainers earn less than $32,000 per year. Do you think they have the financial resources to pay for an extended hospital stay should you get badly injured? PT insurance is cheap and good trainers will understand the importance of protecting themselves and their clients.
  5. Do they have client testimonials? Even if they have multiple testimonials on their website raving about how great they are, be sure to call at least two clients before you hire your trainer.
  6. Do they have experience dealing with injuries? For example, shoulder pain is reported to affect more than 20% of the general population, so a good trainer should know how to work around these types of limitations.
  7. Where are they certified? While certifications are not the be all end all of a personal trainer’s resume, it is important to hire a trainer that is certified through a reputable organization. There are dozens of companies that will certify just about anyone if they pay the $299 fee. Make sure that your trainer actually worked for their certification. A few of the best organizations are the ACSM, NASM and NSCA.
  8. What is their background? If they just graduated college with a degree in Far Eastern Philosophy and got certified last month, how helpful are they going to be? Do they have a history in fitness and sports? Do they look fit and healthy?
  9. How do you feel about their coaching style? If you’ve ever seen The Biggest Loser, you know that Bob and Jillian have two totally different styles of training. Do you prefer someone yelling in your face or not? It’s important to know because you may be the type of person who is demotivated by this form of motivation.
  10. Do they track your progress (or lack of) and how do they track it? How do you know if you’re making progress with your exercise program? Most people don’t have any clue other than if their clothes fit differently. A good program will quantify your results and be based on frequent assessments and reassessments. For example, taking your body fat percentage every six weeks is a great way to track your gains. Just looking at the scale is not.
  11. Do they educate themselves? The world of health and fitness is constantly changing and evolving. If a trainer is not continually learning the newest trends, studying anatomy, physiology, bio-mechanics and human nutrition, then he or she will not evolve either.
  12. Are they good ambassadors of fitness? I’ve seen far too many pudgy trainers over the years and it’s just not good business. A trainer should be the model of fitness and health. They should live the lifestyle you want and look the part.

Ready To Hire a Trainer?

You should now have an idea of what types of questions to ask a prospective trainer and what qualities to look for. Educating yourself is the first step in finding the right trainer, so don’t be afraid to ask these questions.

Featured photo credit: Craig Boyd via flickr.com

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Last Updated on September 16, 2019

How to Stop Procrastinating: 11 Practical Ways for Procrastinators

How to Stop Procrastinating: 11 Practical Ways for Procrastinators

You have a deadline looming. However, instead of doing your work, you are fiddling with miscellaneous things like checking email, social media, watching videos, surfing blogs and forums. You know you should be working, but you just don’t feel like doing anything.

We are all familiar with the procrastination phenomenon. When we procrastinate, we squander away our free time and put off important tasks we should be doing them till it’s too late. And when it is indeed too late, we panic and wish we got started earlier.

The chronic procrastinators I know have spent years of their life looped in this cycle. Delaying, putting off things, slacking, hiding from work, facing work only when it’s unavoidable, then repeating this loop all over again. It’s a bad habit that eats us away and prevents us from achieving greater results in life.

Don’t let procrastination take over your life. Here, I will share my personal steps on how to stop procrastinating. These 11 steps will definitely apply to you too:

1. Break Your Work into Little Steps

Part of the reason why we procrastinate is because subconsciously, we find the work too overwhelming for us. Break it down into little parts, then focus on one part at the time. If you still procrastinate on the task after breaking it down, then break it down even further. Soon, your task will be so simple that you will be thinking “gee, this is so simple that I might as well just do it now!”.

For example, I’m currently writing a new book (on How to achieve anything in life). Book writing at its full scale is an enormous project and can be overwhelming. However, when I break it down into phases such as –

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  • (1) Research
  • (2) Deciding the topic
  • (3) Creating the outline
  • (4) Drafting the content
  • (5) Writing Chapters #1 to #10,
  • (6) Revision
  • (7) etc.

Suddenly it seems very manageable. What I do then is to focus on the immediate phase and get it done to my best ability, without thinking about the other phases. When it’s done, I move on to the next.

2. Change Your Environment

Different environments have different impact on our productivity. Look at your work desk and your room. Do they make you want to work or do they make you want to snuggle and sleep? If it’s the latter, you should look into changing your workspace.

One thing to note is that an environment that makes us feel inspired before may lose its effect after a period of time. If that’s the case, then it’s time to change things around. Refer to Steps #2 and #3 of 13 Strategies To Jumpstart Your Productivity, which talks about revamping your environment and workspace.

3. Create a Detailed Timeline with Specific Deadlines

Having just 1 deadline for your work is like an invitation to procrastinate. That’s because we get the impression that we have time and keep pushing everything back, until it’s too late.

Break down your project (see tip #1), then create an overall timeline with specific deadlines for each small task. This way, you know you have to finish each task by a certain date. Your timelines must be robust, too – i.e. if you don’t finish this by today, it’s going to jeopardize everything else you have planned after that. This way it creates the urgency to act.

My goals are broken down into monthly, weekly, right down to the daily task lists, and the list is a call to action that I must accomplish this by the specified date, else my goals will be put off.

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Here’re more tips on setting deadlines: 22 Tips for Effective Deadlines

4. Eliminate Your Procrastination Pit-Stops

If you are procrastinating a little too much, maybe that’s because you make it easy to procrastinate.

Identify your browser bookmarks that take up a lot of your time and shift them into a separate folder that is less accessible. Disable the automatic notification option in your email client. Get rid of the distractions around you.

I know some people will out of the way and delete or deactivate their facebook accounts. I think it’s a little drastic and extreme as addressing procrastination is more about being conscious of our actions than counteracting via self-binding methods, but if you feel that’s what’s needed, go for it.

5. Hang out with People Who Inspire You to Take Action

I’m pretty sure if you spend just 10 minutes talking to Steve Jobs or Bill Gates, you’ll be more inspired to act than if you spent the 10 minutes doing nothing. The people we are with influence our behaviors. Of course spending time with Steve Jobs or Bill Gates every day is probably not a feasible method, but the principle applies — The Hidden Power of Every Single Person Around You

Identify the people, friends or colleagues who trigger you – most likely the go-getters and hard workers – and hang out with them more often. Soon you will inculcate their drive and spirit too.

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As a personal development blogger, I “hang out” with inspiring personal development experts by reading their blogs and corresponding with them regularly via email and social media. It’s communication via new media and it works all the same.

6. Get a Buddy

Having a companion makes the whole process much more fun. Ideally, your buddy should be someone who has his/her own set of goals. Both of you will hold each other accountable to your goals and plans. While it’s not necessary for both of you to have the same goals, it’ll be even better if that’s the case, so you can learn from each other.

I have a good friend whom I talk to regularly, and we always ask each other about our goals and progress in achieving those goals. Needless to say, it spurs us to keep taking action.

7. Tell Others About Your Goals

This serves the same function as #6, on a larger scale. Tell all your friends, colleagues, acquaintances and family about your projects. Now whenever you see them, they are bound to ask you about your status on those projects.

For example, sometimes I announce my projects on The Personal Excellence Blog, Twitter and Facebook, and my readers will ask me about them on an ongoing basis. It’s a great way to keep myself accountable to my plans.

8. Seek out Someone Who Has Already Achieved the Outcome

What is it you want to accomplish here, and who are the people who have accomplished this already? Go seek them out and connect with them. Seeing living proof that your goals are very well achievable if you take action is one of the best triggers for action.

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9. Re-Clarify Your Goals

If you have been procrastinating for an extended period of time, it might reflect a misalignment between what you want and what you are currently doing. Often times, we outgrow our goals as we discover more about ourselves, but we don’t change our goals to reflect that.

Get away from your work (a short vacation will be good, else just a weekend break or staycation will do too) and take some time to regroup yourself. What exactly do you want to achieve? What should you do to get there? What are the steps to take? Does your current work align with that? If not, what can you do about it?

10. Stop Over-Complicating Things

Are you waiting for a perfect time to do this? That maybe now is not the best time because of X, Y, Z reasons? Ditch that thought because there’s never a perfect time. If you keep waiting for one, you are never going to accomplish anything.

Perfectionism is one of the biggest reasons for procrastination. Read more about why perfectionist tendencies can be a bane than a boon: Why Being A Perfectionist May Not Be So Perfect.

11. Get a Grip and Just Do It

At the end, it boils down to taking action. You can do all the strategizing, planning and hypothesizing, but if you don’t take action, nothing’s going to happen. Occasionally, I get readers and clients who keep complaining about their situations but they still refuse to take action at the end of the day.

Reality check:

I have never heard anyone procrastinate their way to success before and I doubt it’s going to change in the near future.  Whatever it is you are procrastinating on, if you want to get it done, you need to get a grip on yourself and do it.

More About Procrastination

Featured photo credit: Malvestida Magazine via unsplash.com

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