You know your way around a gym. You know your basic lifts, and you don’t feel the need to be constantly surrounded by friends when you’re working out. You may even consider the gym your “me time”—where you can be alone with just your thoughts. But the chances are that at some point or another in your life, you’ll reach a place where you could go faster, reach further and make more gains if you sought professional help. We sat down with certified fitness professional Joe Scali of Semiahmoo Athletic Club to learn what signs to look for before knowing whether or not you need a fitness trainer in your life.
What are the signs that someone should see a personal trainer?
Everything goes back to your individual needs and goals. The biggest thing is when you hit plateaus—whether you are training for life or a specific goal (like a race, competition or event). If you’re not seeing the results you want, but you don’t know what you need to do to differently to break through that barrier, a personal trainer can make all the difference.
If you’re not getting fitter, not getting stronger, seek professional help. Certified fitness professionals can help to guide you to break through that barrier. Additionally, if you’re getting into more, complex movements, such as moves with barbells, or Olympic weight lifting, you need someone to walk you through the steps.
What are some skills/lifts that you should only do with supervision?
If you’re new to a movement, especially one that is more complex, that requires a lot of knowledge to do the lift properly, you definitely need professional help. You don’t want to get injured. If you’re switching up your routine to something more complex, something you’ve never done before, like Olympic weight lifting, get a coach—whether it’s 1-on-1 or in a class environment. This is especially important if you’re moving off weight machines or elliptical onto more weight lifting or functional fitness moves. If you work with a trainer for a month, you’ll take what you learn for a lifetime.
What are the barriers to working with a fitness trainer?
Price is the main barrier. Until you actually use a personal trainer, you may not realize how much it is worth. Luckily most trainers offer a free assessment or session, so you can get to know each other, your styles and your goals. They can show you firsthand how they can be of value to you. You can spend hundreds of dollars on food and coffee, but until you see what a difference a fitness trainer can make, you may not realize the value.
Whether you’re looking at a personal trainer or supervised exercise session (group session with a professional), there are a lot of affordable options. Supervised exercise will give you good results, and it holds you accountable to you goals. People show up more to class than to an open gym.
How do you find a personal trainer that meets your needs?
While it’s important to look at a trainer’s certification list, it isn’t the definite answer to knowing whether a trainer is right for you. You could look at one trainer that has 3,000 certifications and one that only has a couple. You can’t say that the person with 3,000 certifications is necessarily a better trainer.
The best thing to do is your research—and not just on their website. Choose someone ideally from a referral—friend of a friend and through word of mouth. Look at how many clients they have, what testimonials they’ve gotten, and their success stories. Try to talk to people who’ve been trained by them.
Something that’s also important to look at is the personality of trainer—and how your personalities may mesh or clash. You’ll be spending 60 minutes with this person many days a week, so it should be someone you want to spend time with.
Once you narrow down your list to one or two candidates, see if they offer a demo session so you can see their style, their expertise and their personality, as you make this significant investment in your health.
If you don’t think you’re ready to commit to 1-on-1 sessions with a fitness trainer, look for a supervised exercise session in a group setting. Beyond being more affordable and holding you accountable, they also help to grow a community. Push yourself out of the comfort zone, and you’re going to get better results. If you’re pushing yourself a little more every day you’ll get so much stronger, so much better
Do you use a fitness trainer? What results have you seen?