It starts with an online search, usually something like “personal trainer Koreatown” or “personal trainer near me.” As you scan the carefully curated listings on your screen, you realize it: you have no idea how to choose a personal trainer.
First of all, don’t worry. Instead, feel proud of yourself. Taking action to hire a personal trainer is an excellent step in the right direction for positive things in your life. Investing in your health and fitness is essential to your well-being.
Second, before you meet with anybody, you need to know what you want out of the relationship. So, start there. Maybe you want to get back in shape after an injury or a lapse in training or have decided it is time to lose the holiday/vacation/baby weight. Perhaps you want to take on a new activity, like cycling or running, but don’t know how to get started. Some people want a trainer to help them put on weight or build up muscle. Whatever your goals are, define them so that you can find a trainer that can deliver it for you.
Finally, as Nerdfitness.com points out, you need to know how you want to use the personal trainer. For example, if you decide that you want to lose weight, do you want the personal trainer to build workouts that help you burn fat? Do you want someone to keep you accountable and on track when you start to fall back into old habits? When you know what you want the trainer to do for you, you will ask better questions when you meet.
Remember the Five Cs: Credentials, Capability, Cost, Compatibility, and Contract.
Now that you know what you want to achieve and how you want the trainer to help you do it, you are ready to start your search. We have a few tips to help you choose the right personal trainer for you—and they are not complicated or time-consuming. The Five Cs are the essential areas to cover when you are choosing a personal trainer.
The Five Cs
- Credentials are crucial in your decision process. If the prospective trainer cannot show you their fitness certification, then we say you should show them your “nope” face. Per HuffPost, certified trainers earn accreditation from organizations like the American Council on Exercise (ACE), the National Academy of Sports Medicine (NASM), or the National Strength and Conditional Association (NSCA), among others. If you are unfamiliar with the program your trainer is certified with, we recommend looking up the requirements for accreditation online. Per CrossFit.com, CrossFit trainers have four credentialing opportunities:
- Level 1: The introductory course to CrossFit which focuses on the philosophy behind CrossFit and movements to prepare course participants to help others improve their health and fitness using CrossFit Technique.
- Level 2: The intermediate course which builds on the Level 1 training by diving deeper into methodology, the program design and how to implement them in coaching.
- Level 3: This credential advances coaches who have completed Levels 1 and 2 and then passed the CCFT (Certified CrossFit Trainer) written exam, as well as committing to ongoing continuing education opportunities.
- Level 4: After completion of the other levels, the Level 4 credential is the highest credential offered and is earned by passing the CCFC (Certified CrossFit Coach) assessment, which evaluates performance by observing workouts facilitated by the coach.
- Capability is about the trainer’s experience. The longer someone has been a personal trainer, the more they have perfected their style and optimized their process for getting results. It’s up to you how much experience you want from your trainer, but we think the training experience should be substantial. Also, you want to know the trainer’s area of expertise. If your goal is to run a marathon in under four hours, don’t waste time with a bodybuilding coach. Likewise, if you want to get stronger and more fit using a CrossFit workout as the foundation for your exercise program, you don’t want to hire a running coach.
- Cost is also an essential consideration. Like any free-market business, the range is wide for personal training rates. You should know your budget before you start meeting with trainers so you don’t get your heart set on someone you cannot afford.
- Compatibility refers to whether the trainer has the right coaching style for you. Like any working relationship, you have to be able to communicate. That means you should be able to express your concerns and listen to their advice; they should be able to hear your concerns and set proper expectations. Furthermore, you need a coach that can work with your learning style. If you need a firm hand, then you should find someone that fosters discipline with a drill-sergeant style. If you like to be encouraged and complimented, then a cheerleader-style trainer might be better. You set yourself up for success when you know what will work for you and find those qualities in your trainer.
- Contract means the details of your working relationship. You need to understand how they schedule and what they expect from you each week. You also should know where they work; i.e., are they tied to a gym, or can you meet anywhere for sessions? You should be familiar with your potential trainer’s sick and cancellation policies, so there are not any surprises or bad feelings there. The more you know going in, the better.
The Five Cs—Credentials, Capability, Cost, Compatibility, and Contract—should make it possible to narrow down the personal trainer candidates. Now, you have the information you need to make an informed decision about which personal trainer is best for you.
King, Jamie. “10 Things to Consider Before Choosing a Personal Trainer.” Huffpost.com. 6 January 2015. Web. 11 November 2019. <https://www.huffpost.com/entry/choosing-a-personal-trainer_b_6085318>.
Kamb, Steve. “How to Find a Good Personal Trainer or Coach: 5 Mistakes to Avoid.” Nerdfitness.com. 18 July 2019. Web. 11 November 2019. <https://www.nerdfitness.com/blog/how-to-hire-a-good-personal-trainer/>.
“How to Choose the Best Personal Trainer for You.” Greatest.com. Web. 11 November 2019. <https://greatist.com/fitness/how-to-choose-best-personal-trainer#2>.