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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 28, 2020

The Pros and Cons of Working from Home

The Pros and Cons of Working from Home

At the start of the year, if you had asked anyone if they could do their work from home, many would have said no. They would have cited the need for team meetings, a place to be able to sit down and get on with their work, the camaraderie of the office, and being able to meet customers and clients face to face.

Almost ten months later, most of us have learned that we can do our work from home and in many ways, we have discovered working from home is a lot better than doing our work in a busy, bustling office environment where we are inundated with distractions and noise.

One of the things the 2020 pandemic has reminded us is we humans are incredibly adaptable. It is one of the strengths of our kind. Yet we have been unknowingly practicing this for years. When we move house we go through enormous upheaval.

When we change jobs, we not only change our work environment but we also change the surrounding people. Humans are adaptable and this adaptability gives us strength.

So, what are the pros and cons of working from home? Below I will share some things I have discovered since I made the change to being predominantly a person who works from home.

Pro #1: A More Relaxed Start to the Day

This one I love. When I had to be at a place of work in the past, I would always set my alarm to give me just enough time to make coffee, take a shower, and change. Mornings always felt like a rush.

Now, I can wake up a little later, make coffee and instead of rushing to get out of the door at a specific time, I can spend ten minutes writing in my journal, reviewing my plan for the day, and start the day in a more relaxed frame of mind.

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When you start the day in a relaxed state, you begin more positively. You find you have more clarity and more focus and you are not wasting energy worrying about whether you will be late.

Pro #2: More Quiet, Focused Time = Increased Productivity

One of the biggest difficulties of working in an office is the noise and distractions. If a colleague or boss can see you sat at your desk, you are more approachable. It is easier for them to ask you questions or engage you in meaningless conversations.

Working from home allows you to shut the door and get on with an hour or two of quiet focused work. If you close down your Slack and Email, you avoid the risk of being disturbed and it is amazing how much work you can get done.

An experiment conducted in 2012 found that working from home increased a person’s productivity by 13%, and more recent studies also find significant increases in productivity.[1]

When our productivity increases, the amount of time we need to perform our work decreases, and this means we can spend more time on activities that can bring us closer to our family and friends as well as improve our mental health.

Pro #3: More Control Over Your Day

Without bosses and colleagues watching over us all day, we have a lot more control over what we do. While some work will inevitably be more urgent than others, we still get a lot more choice about what we work on.

We also get more control over where we work. I remember when working in an office, we were given a fixed workstation. Some of these workstations were pleasant with a lot of natural sunlight, but other areas were less pleasant. It was often the luck of the draw whether we find ourselves in a good place to work or not.

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By working from home we can choose what work to work on and whether we want to face a window or not. We can get up and move to another place, and we can move from room to room. And if you have a garden, on nice days you could spend a few hours working outside.

Pro #4: You Get to Choose Your Office Environment

While many companies will provide you with a laptop or other equipment to do your work, others will give you an allowance to purchase your equipment. But with furniture such as your chair and desk, you have a lot of freedom.

I have seen a lot of amazing home working spaces with wonderful sets up—better chairs, laptop stands that make working from a laptop much more ergonomic and therefore, better for your neck.

You can also choose your wall art and the little nick-nacks on your desk or table. With all this freedom, you can create a very personal and excellent working environment that is a pleasure to work in. When you are happy doing your work, you will inevitably do better work.

Con #1: We Move a Lot Less

When we commute to a place of work, there is movement involved. Many people commute using public transport, which means walking to the bus stop or train station. Then, there is the movement at lunchtime when we go out to buy our lunch. Working in a place of work requires us to move more.

Unfortunately, working from home naturally causes us to move less and this means we are not burning as many calories as we need to.

Moving is essential to our health and if you are working from home you need to become much more aware of your movement. To ensure you are moving enough, make sure you take your lunch breaks. Get up from your desk and move. Go outside, if you can, and take a walk. And, of course, refrain from regular trips to the refrigerator.

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Con #2: Less Human Interaction

One of the nicest things about bringing a group of people together to work is the camaraderie and relationships that are built over time. Working from home takes us away from that human interaction and for many, this can cause a feeling of loss.

Humans are a social species—we need to be with other people. Without that connection, we start to feel lonely and that can lead to mental health issues.

Zoom and Microsoft Teams meeting cannot replace that interaction. Often, the interactions we get at our workplaces are spontaneous. But with video calls, there is nothing spontaneous—most of these calls are prearranged and that’s not spontaneous.

This lack of spontaneous interaction can also reduce a team’s ability to develop creative solutions—there’s just something about a group of incredibly creative people coming together in a room to thrash out ideas together that lends itself to creativity.

While video calls can be useful, they don’t match the connection between a group of people working on a solution together.

Con #3: The Cost of Buying Home Office Equipment

Not all companies are going to provide you with a nice allowance to buy expensive home office equipment. 100% remote companies such as Doist (the creators of Todoist and Twist) provide a $2,000 allowance to all their staff every two years to buy office equipment. Others are not so generous.

This can prove to be expensive for many people to create their ideal work-from-home workspace. Many people must make do with what they already have, and that could mean unsuitable chairs that damage backs and necks.

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For a future that will likely involve more flexible working arrangements, companies will need to support their staff in ways that will add additional costs to an already reduced bottom line.

Con #4: Unique Distractions

Not all people have the benefit of being able to afford childcare for young children, and this means they need to balance working and taking care of their kids.

For many parents, being able to go to a workplace gives them time away from the noise and demands of a young family, so they could get on with their work. Working from home removes this and can make doing video calls almost impossible.

To overcome this, where possible, you need to set some boundaries. I know this is not always possible, but it is something you need to try. You should do whatever you can to make sure you have some boundaries between your work life and home life.

Final Thoughts

Working from home can be hugely beneficial for many people, but it can also bring serious challenges to others.

We are moving towards a new way of working. Therefore, companies need to look at both the pros and cons of working from home and be prepared to support their staff in making this transition. It will not be impossible, but a lot of thought will need to go into it.

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Featured photo credit: Standsome Worklifestyle via unsplash.com

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