In the last several years as a full-time personal trainer, I’ve heard countless tales of trainer travesties. “He was more interested in the Lulu Lemon billboard blonde across the room than our workout,” and “We did the same thing all the time and mostly we just ended up talking,” are a fraction of the complaints I’ve been told. The fact is, there are a lot of trainers out there and a lot of them give the few good ones a bad reputation. How do you know if you may have discovered a gem trainer in the gym or if you have become entangled with a deadbeat? Take a look at a few great ways to get the most of your personal trainer.
- 1. “My trainer never set any goals for me.” Make your goals clear. Keep in mind that the responsibility of the trainer is to help you create a map that will get you to your individual goal — not to pick a specific goal for you like losing inches for your spouse who is an overzealous exercise addict trying to ensnare you into their cult of curves. Make your aspirations clear and your trainer, if competent, will be able to construct a goal system that is specific, measurable, attainable, relevant, and time bound.
- 2. “He never took my measurements or weighed me after our first session.” You may be surprised that the majority, and I would say nine of 10 trainees, were more than resistant to being measured on a regular basis. For those who are uncomfortable being weighed publicly, your trainer can find alternative ways to measure and track progress. Examples are improvements in strength, aerobic capacity, and the way clothes are fitting or even sense of well-being. You’re paying for progress, so make sure your trainer is held accountable for the product you’ve been sold.
- 3. “I never really felt challenged, and sometimes I left the gym feeling like my workout was a flop.” Intensity is a peculiar thing in the gym, especially when it comes to training a broad spectrum of clientele. Everyone has their own capacity for how much physical strain, perceived exertion, and level of effort they’re willing to put forth. At the risk of irritating a client who doesn’t want to be pushed or, worse, injuring someone who wasn’t prepared to nail a one rep max today, many trainers hold back. If you want to be pushed, make it clear, but keep in mind that skilled trainers have the ability to challenge any individual at any level of ability.
- 4. “Before I knew it, the workout was over and I was just getting warmed up.” I tell clients to arrive at least 15 minutes early to their session to warm up. When they walk in cold, I deliberately scale back the first part of the workout to ensure they ease into exercise and avoid injury. Get more out of your session by warming up sufficiently before the workout. I personally get excited when I know that the trainee is warmed up and ready to begin a demanding workout before the appointment.
- 5. “I never knew what to do on my own.” First off, your trainer should set out guidelines of time that needs to be logged in the gym throughout the week. If not, take a look at step one again and make sure you are both on the same page with your goals. That being said, your trainer is more than willing to write down or communicate a strength and cardio program for each week. I give my clients homework after each session and this becomes valuable when I leave town for extended periods of time. Your trainer should be preparing you for self-reliance in the future and practice is the best way to gain confidence in the gym.
The trainer-client relationship is marital in nature and needs to be attended to as such. Communicate clearly and often with your trainer. If he or she is able to listen to your needs and provide short-term solutions to get you to a long-term goal, you may have discovered a gem of a trainer.