These days you can get a training cert over the weekend having had no previous background in the fitness and nutrition realm. Yeah, its that easy. Most new clients don’t realize this.
Just because a trainer has a certification, does NOT mean they have any clue as to how to properly train. It just means they’re competent enough to not injure you (and even that's a stretch).
I hope one day they make an occupation, whose entire job is transforming your health and nutrition habits, a little more strict and in depth.
Until then, here are 7 qualities you should look for in a trainer worthwhile:
Are they doing an assessment? Did they check your current range of motion, limits, previous injuries, etc.? Sounds pretty obvious but it's absolutely incredible how little this actually happens.
They should be asking about your current nutrition habits, lifestyle, environment, support system, and willingness to change. All super important variables when working with a client.
Their main focus in the beginning should be YOU. Training is more than just training. It’s understanding the client's concerns, setbacks, and what actually brought them here in the first place.
2) Keep Stats
What gets measured gets improved. Is the hard work paying off? They should be:
● Checking for adherence to the SMALL nutrition behaviors they’ve given you
● Measuring your body so they can see if you’re gaining size/losing weight
● Tracking performance in the gym - are you stronger? Faster?
● Photos - can we look back week to week and see how far you’ve come since when you first started? Accountability.
● A Plan - did they even go over an outline for how they plan to help you achieve your goals? Or are they winging it?
3) Always learning
Anyone can get an ACE or NASM certification. They really aren’t that hard to pass if you just set aside some time. What have they done BEYOND the bare minimum?
● What mentorships or internships have they done?
● They may have other certs, but are they respectable, quality ones?
● Do they read? An elite trainer is CONSTANTLY reading and seeking out information from those he/she aspires to be to get to that level
It’s not about having extra letters, but they need to be showing that they want to continue to learn and grow in this field they’re calling their career. The simplest way is to see how passionate they are when talking about it.
4) Practice what they preach
The trainer doesn’t have to be 5% bodyfat, an IFBB pro, or have 1.5 million followers on Instagram (in fact be worried if they do. Cause I doubt it was their knowledge that got them there).
However, see if they’ve actually done what they’re telling you to do. How else do they know it even works? It also doesn’t hurt if they have a little more muscle and a little less fat than the average person. After all, this IS their career, their body should reflect that on some level. It shows they at the very least put in the time to experiment.
5) Understanding their job vs. yours
Helping you lose 10 pounds is their job. Outcome. Implementing the daily habits week to week to change into a lifestyle that warrants that outcome is your job. Behaviors.
They need to be slowly implementing new behaviors that allow you to achieve results. This is a marathon not a sprint. If they can’t help you make changes you see yourself still doing a year after they’re gone, then they haven’t done their job.
6) Utilize all tools to help you change
Training you in the gym is one thing. What you do the other 23 hours is another.
● Make sure they’re using exercise AND nutrition to help you progress
● One size does NOT fit all. The program given to you should be unique and based off of your initial assessment
● Having the ability to adjust and adapt to any obstacle or setback you may have
7) Not doing it for the paycheck
At the end of the day it’s not about the money. It’s about you. They NEED to be caring about your wellbeing and overall mindset throughout the process. A great coach makes his or herself available those other hours of the day to help keep you accountable, and answer any questions you may have. After all, they know more about this process than you. (wait….they DO know more than you….right?)
The Final Tip: A great coach is willing to tell you straight up if you’re ready for the change you’re seeking. They don’t say yes like a robot because they see you got a fat wallet. At the end of the day it’s about what's best for you even if it means saying you aren’t ready.