Recently CNN posted an article entitled “5 Things To Look For In A Personal Trainer”. The traits were Patience, Communication, Professionalism, Education, and Personality. Overall it was a decent article but certainly some overlap in the qualities. So here are my picks.
1. Reputation of the training facility/business. I think this is without a doubt the most important factor. If the business itself is well known/reputable/well respected, not just the individual coach, there is a strong possibility that the entire team is a good choice to work with.
2. Personality, as stated in the CNN article, is certainly important. Not everyone is a great match. Some people are looking to specifically be coached, which is why I like that word. Others are expecting to have Jillian Michaels yell at them until they cry and start to question why anyone would ever love them. She’s much less a coach than a trainer. Going back to the facility idea, depending on the size of the staff there is probably some diversity in personalities among the staff but the training philosophy remains the same, which has likely built the reputation.
3. Communication is important in any relationship. I think we all know that. The example given in the article sounds more to me like education. For me communication means asking a lot of questions and then listening, especially in the beginning, but even on a daily basis. Not everyday is going to be a winner but if coaches are consistently aware of the various stresses on the trainee it helps know when to back off or ramp it up. The more communication the better, that way goals and expectations can be better met.
4. Experience. Odds are that if someone has been coaching and learning for a long period of time they will be more skilled in helping you. Now, going right back to #1, if your coach is someone relatively new to the game as far as experience, but has been studying under some great coaches then I see no problem with less experience. If this younger coach isn’t able to answer your question he’s got a team around him to help. Which is a great segue into #5.
5. Education. Again, some gray area here. I have met some college grads in exercise related fields and there’s a better chance they could train my dog than another human being. At the same time I’ve met some people who may not have a college degree in a related field but have taken the time to educate themselves through various workshops, certifications, etc. That being said, as a consumer it is difficult to understand what all of those letters and certifications mean. Are they valuable? Hard to say. However, please again refer to #1, if you as the consumer, are not only working with one trainer, but essentially a team of reputable coaches your odds of kicking butt at life are far greater.
And finally, in a completely unrelated note, if you haven’t seen this, well, you should. Set your DVR.
– Mike Baltren