It’s almost that time again. Time for the final digit of the year to increase by 1, and to start thinking about decreasing that number on the scale. This January will be yet another chance for people just like you to go out and start the New Year on a healthy note, and set the tone for the rest of 2017 - a chance to establish a new exercise routine, a chance to develop better eating habits, and a chance to start feeling better in those clothes! One of the best ways to hold yourself accountable to these goals is to find a personal trainer who can help you set these goals and hold you to them. But how do you know you’ve found not just a trainer, but a really good one?
1. Your trainer is certified through a nationally accredited organization and/or holds a degree in exercise physiology/kinesiology/sport science.
It’s easy to go out to any gym or search the internet and find someone who is a “personal trainer”, but how can you weed through the good trainers and bad trainers? The first step is to check to see if the individual holds a personal training certification or degree. Certifications are a good way for those searching for trainers to get a quick glance at what this person may know. After all, personal training can be a costly investment, and you’re going to want to make sure you put your money in the right stock. For trainers, certifications allow us to prove our knowledge at a glance, as well as hold us to the standards of said certification. Trainers must earn the letters after their name by passing rigorous testing and continually learning. Organizations such as NASM, ACSM, NSCA, and CHEK Institute are some of the best in the world. If your trainer has earned one of these, they are already a step above the rest. Additionally, certifications can show off an individual’s specialization. If you’re looking for athletic performance enhancement, someone specializing in women’s health, or many others, these aforementioned governing bodies have specializations for each of them. Figure out what your primary goals are for the New Year, and then find a trainer with the certification that best serves your intentions!
2. Your trainer understands exercise physiology.
This one is huge and follows hand in hand with the above. The human body is incredibly complicated. With changes in weight and fitness level come changes in hormone levels, muscle length and tone, flexibility, and much much more. A trainer who understands this is much more likely to be able to coach you through an entire exercise program, and not just a singular workout because they know what adaptations to expect and what style of training is most likely to get you there. Anyone can craft a basic cardiovascular or strength workout, but to truly optimize each workout and then continue to build off of that each consecutive workout, takes a solid understanding of the human body and biological processes. The best trainers understand these principles. Don’t just take your trainer’s word for it either! Don’t be afraid to ask questions such as, “Why is this exercise good for me?” or, “What’s the benefit of taking this [insert supplement here] during this particular phase of training and how will it affect the my long term goals and health?”. While you’re at it, go ahead and research your question online or have your trainer find the research to back up their answer. Good trainers love being asked questions because it allows us to show off our knowledge.
3.Your trainer individualizes your workouts and overall program.
This is a big one. No one individual has the exact same physiology as any other individual in the world. For that reason, no one individual should do the exact same exercise routine as another individual. A good trainer will do an assessment to figure out your goals, previous exercise history, orthopedic concerns, health history, family health history, and functional movement capabilities in order to begin to craft your new program. The more your trainer is able to know about you, the better your trainer will be able to develop the perfect program specific to your needs! Be weary of trainers who happily give out a cookie-cutter approach to health.
4.Your trainer is constantly learning.
Good trainers are constantly searching for more information to better themselves as trainers, but more importantly, to better serve you as a client. As I previously mentioned, every person is unique. Trainers must be able to understand many different contraindications of exercise, understand the effects of supplements, understand the physiology of injury and rehabilitation to normal activity. The list goes on and on. The good news is that Fitness related research is always happening; take research on lactic acid accumulation in muscles during exercise and whether or not it is the culprit in fatigue or not as an example. People are always trying to understand more and more about the human body and what allows it to function properly as well as what allows it to adapt optimally. The more your trainer is able to learn about the human body in general and in differentiated situations, the more likely your trainer is to better help you. Trainers also don’t just learn about exercise and health science, they continually learn about you. It’s important for them to understand physiology, but it’s equally important to understand their clients and how they respond to certain styles of training both in the short term and long term. Of course, this changes as you change, so it’s up to good trainers to constantly learn and adapt to you!
5. Your trainer wants to help you learn.
It’s easy to just show up to your workout, go through it, and then leave. A good trainer wants you to understand your body and health, after all, it is YOUR body and you only get one! As much as trainers want to train their clients forever, for most people this is unrealistic. Great trainers want you to understand why they’re prescribing particular routines and how to eventually progress to being able to workout on your own. It’s much easier to hold yourself accountable and to continue to make fitness a habit when you know what to expect and what to do when your trainer isn’t there with you. When I start with all of my clients I tell them that I’m not just their trainer, I’m also their teacher. It’s up to me to help my clients learn about a healthy lifestyle so that they can live a healthy lifestyle and continue that long after they are done training with me.
When 2017 rolls around, follow this guide to find the perfect trainer for you. Whether you’re evaluating your current trainer, had trainers in the past, or it’s your very first time looking for a professional, I hope this guide helps you make a more informed decision. At Chapel Hill Training, our trainers embody each of these 5 principles. Our staff is made up of expert individuals ready to help you reach your fitness goals. You don’t have to look further than us to find your perfect trainer!