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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 March 13, 2019

How to Get out of a Rut: 12 Useful Ways to Get Unstuck

How to Get out of a Rut: 12 Useful Ways to Get Unstuck

Have you gotten into a rut before? Or are you in a rut right now?

You know you’re in a rut when you run out of ideas and inspiration. I personally see a rut as a productivity vacuum. It might very well be a reason why you aren’t getting results. Even as you spend more time on your work, you can’t seem to get anything constructive done. While I’m normally productive, I get into occasional ruts (especially when I’ve been working back-to-back without rest). During those times, I can spend an entire day in front of the computer and get nothing done. It can be quite frustrating.

Over time, I have tried and found several methods that are helpful to pull me out of a rut. If you experience ruts too, whether as a working professional, a writer, a blogger, a student or other work, you will find these useful. Here are 12 of my personal tips to get out of ruts:

1. Work on the small tasks.

When you are in a rut, tackle it by starting small. Clear away your smaller tasks which have been piling up. Reply to your emails, organize your documents, declutter your work space, and reply to private messages.

Whenever I finish doing that, I generate a positive momentum which I bring forward to my work.

2. Take a break from your work desk.

Get yourself away from your desk and go take a walk. Go to the washroom, walk around the office, go out and get a snack.

Your mind is too bogged down and needs some airing. Sometimes I get new ideas right after I walk away from my computer.

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3. Upgrade yourself

Take the down time to upgrade yourself. Go to a seminar. Read up on new materials (#7). Pick up a new language. Or any of the 42 ways here to improve yourself.

The modern computer uses different typefaces because Steve Jobs dropped in on a calligraphy class back in college. How’s that for inspiration?

4. Talk to a friend.

Talk to someone and get your mind off work for a while.

Talk about anything, from casual chatting to a deep conversation about something you really care about. You will be surprised at how the short encounter can be rejuvenating in its own way.

5. Forget about trying to be perfect.

If you are in a rut, the last thing you want to do is step on your own toes with perfectionist tendencies.

Just start small. Do what you can, at your own pace. Let yourself make mistakes.

Soon, a little trickle of inspiration will come. And then it’ll build up with more trickles. Before you know it, you have a whole stream of ideas.

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6. Paint a vision to work towards.

If you are continuously getting in a rut with your work, maybe there’s no vision inspiring you to move forward.

Think about why you are doing this, and what you are doing it for. What is the end vision in mind?

Make it as vivid as possible. Make sure it’s a vision that inspires you and use that to trigger you to action.

7. Read a book (or blog).

The things we read are like food to our brain. If you are out of ideas, it’s time to feed your brain with great materials.

Here’s a list of 40 books you can start off with. Stock your browser with only the feeds of high quality blogs, such as Lifehack.org, DumbLittleMan, Seth Godin’s Blog, Tim Ferris’ Blog, Zen Habits or The Personal Excellence Blog.

Check out the best selling books; those are generally packed with great wisdom.

8. Have a quick nap.

If you are at home, take a quick nap for about 20-30 minutes. This clears up your mind and gives you a quick boost. Nothing quite like starting off on a fresh start after catching up on sleep.

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9. Remember why you are doing this.

Sometimes we lose sight of why we do what we do, and after a while we become jaded. A quick refresher on why you even started on this project will help.

What were you thinking when you thought of doing this? Retrace your thoughts back to that moment. Recall why you are doing this. Then reconnect with your muse.

10. Find some competition.

Nothing quite like healthy competition to spur us forward. If you are out of ideas, then check up on what people are doing in your space.

Colleagues at work, competitors in the industry, competitors’ products and websites, networking conventions.. you get the drill.

11. Go exercise.

Since you are not making headway at work, might as well spend the time shaping yourself up.

Sometimes we work so much that we neglect our health and fitness. Go jog, swim, cycle, whichever exercise you prefer.

As you improve your physical health, your mental health will improve, too. The different facets of ourselves are all interlinked.

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Here’re 15 Tips to Restart the Exercise Habit (and How to Keep It).

12. Take a good break.

Ruts are usually signs that you have been working too long and too hard. It’s time to get a break.

Beyond the quick tips above, arrange for a 1-day or 2-days of break from your work. Don’t check your (work) emails or do anything work-related. Relax and do your favorite activities. You will return to your work recharged and ready to start.

Contrary to popular belief, the world will not end from taking a break from your work. In fact, you will be much more ready to make an impact after proper rest. My best ideas and inspiration always hit me whenever I’m away from my work.

Take a look at this to learn the importance of rest: The Importance of Scheduling Downtime

More Resources About Getting out of a Rut

Featured photo credit: Joshua Earle via unsplash.com

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