Dear Coach Laura,
I want to participate in a fund-raising bike ride this summer. I exercise regularly and am in fairly decent shape, but I know that to get ready for this ride, I need to prepare above what I can do on my own. I've been thinking about hiring a personal trainer and was wondering what you think about what to look for. I go to a gym with what looks like hundreds of "personal trainers."
- How should I choose one I can trust, whom I can work with for as long as I need to, who will help me reach my goals?
- What can I expect in my first few meetings with a personal trainer?
- How will the person know what I really need and how to gauge my progress and keep me from injury?
- I saw a personal trainer, a young guy, looking like he was bored and/or irritated, working with a woman who looked like a stay-at-home mom who was wanting to get in shape. She was struggling with some weights and running back and forth across the basketball court picking up cones and putting them down again, etc. She had a look of distress and even agony on her face. I thought, poor thing, she needs someone who will actually work with her, not stand there like that, making her do things that appear to be beyond her capability. How can I avoid getting in a situation with a trainer like that?
- What if I decide to switch trainers after some time?
First of all, congratulations on your fund-raising efforts! It's such a great way to get involved - you get to participate in a great cause and it benefits you also.
You ask some really good questions. You're right - if you're going to spend that extra bit of money on a trainer, you want to make sure you're happy with that "purchase." I think that's the important thing to remember in this - this is your money, and you get to dictate how to spend it. In making your selection, keep that in the front of your mind, and the selection process will start to take care of itself.
A lot of trainers will offer one free session, or some other type of introductory session. Take advantage of that session and get to know your trainer. See if you mesh together, get along, make sure that person is willing to work with you in your goals. It's good that you have a goal you're working towards. Be clear and specific in stating those goals to potential trainers. Choose someone who has experience with the type of activity or goal you want to accomplish.
It sounds like, based on your observation of the trainer with that woman at your gym, you already know who NOT to pick. It's also possible that that woman didn't approach that trainer with specific goals. If the woman wanted to be a better basketball player, that's one thing, but if she's not enjoying it, it sounds like the trainer is a little lazy and falling back on something HE likes, not something that's going to benefit his client at all. A good trainer is one who listens to the client and is willing to work with that person to achieve goals. And if neither one of the people are having fun, there's no point in either one pursuing that activity, in my opinion.
Which brings us to your final question about switching trainers. Let's go back to the point about it being your money. Have you ever switched brands of something? It's YOUR money; you get to decide where to put it. Make sure you're making it count for you. Remember - you're paying him - make it count for you.
Best of luck to you in your ride and choosing a trainer. You're definitely on the right track!
To your training,