Friday, December 21, 2012

The Experts Weigh In: Picking the Perfect Personal Trainer

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When I worked as a personal trainer I was often asked what made me decide to be a trainer. Many people actually thought “He must be really good at working out" - like I got up one day, decided on a whim to become a personal trainer, took an online course, and here I am.

While that may actually be the case for some,  it is not the case for ALL trainers. So before picking out your trainer, best friend, and psychologist (we do all three), take some time, do some research and ask around.

Most importantly, 'stalk' your potential mate. You can learn a lot.

Here are some typical personal trainer personalities to keep an eye out for when choosing your ideal trainer...

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First things first, ask yourself “Where am I standing?”. If you answered L.A. Fitness or any “Big Box Gym”, turn around, go to the front desk and cancel your membership. Nine times out of ten you are not likely to find anything resembling a good personal trainer at one of these places. Places like these do not center their business on offering the best workout, but rather in having the most stuff; and sometimes even that is done poorly. More does not necessarily equal better, but instead confusion, especially when first getting into a workout routine.

As a consequence of seeking out a trainer at one of these gyms, you are likely to work with a poorly educated trainer who got their certification at the equivalent of the Devry of personal training schools. This trainer will have you doing three sets of ten on every machine in the room while counting out loud, with the occasional “Great Job!" thrown in for good measure.  Honestly, a well trained lemur could do this.

But there are other things to consider at the Big Box Gyms. Most of these trainers are paid by the hour, taking just a small cut of your fee. These gyms rarely care about the how happy their trainers are or give them incentives to be better trainers. As such, these trainers do the bare minimum because they are underpaid and lacking in incentives. 

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At boutique gyms your chances of finding a REAL trainer increase. Think about it, these are small mom and pop owned gyms. While they may not have the BEST facilities with all the glitz and glam, they do have the equipment to get the job done, and their trainers have a real incentive to keep you around.

Now for the 'bummer', you get what you pay for. You will not be paying Big Box Gym prices. You'll be paying a premium for the opportunity to work with a more experienced personal trainer who will give you real insight into cooking, dieting, and a healthy lifestyle. Chances are you guys will become good friends. Hell, you might even find him or her at your holiday party next year.

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Finally we come to the elite personal trainer. This trainer went to school for this stuff. Their parents were trainers, they were an alternate on the USA Olympic gymnastics team, and they studied Exercise and Sports Science at Yale. They know exactly what to say and when to say it to get you motivated. They can give you a workout at the park with a Swiss ball and a TRX trainer that will leave you unable to go to work the next day because every muscle and tendon in your body is screaming in pain (side note - no pain, no gain).

At this point you must be thinking "WOW! That's great! Sign me up!". Well, these types of trainers do not come cheap - they are good and they know it. One hundred dollars per hour is on the low end for this type of trainer, and if you want him or her at your home, well then tack on anther fifty plus. If you are in NYC, ATL, LA or any other larger city, you can expect to drop $250 plus.

So who are you? What do you need? After personally witnessing some very dangerous “exercises” and spotting work at Big Box Gyms, I seriously warn everyone to stay away from that type of trainer / gym. But of course, keep in mind that there are exceptions to every rule.

If you find your self in a boutique gym, you are likely to find a good or great trainer but do a little research before committing. Find out what kind of person they are. Do you think you'll get along? Take him or her on a trial run “first date”. Gyms will generally give new members a free trial with the trainer of their choosing, so definitely take advantage of that. And if you are still not sure, STALK your potential mate. Oh yeah, I’m talking Facebook as well as in the gym. Trainers usually friend their clients and other gym members. Use Facebook to see if you guys have anything in common, and don't be afraid to creep around the gym, using the bench next to the trainer while they're helping other clients. Sometimes it takes only their conversation to know whether your potential relationship will be mutually beneficial.

If this all seems like too much work, my best advice is to go with “The Contractor”. Your wallet may be thinner, but so will your waist! 

David Prado is a cycling instructor at Flywheel Atlanta, personal trainer and general fitness enthusiast. On his days off, he can be found on his road bike, biking more miles than you've ever thought possible in one day. He also makes a mean mojito and dances salsa like a pro, thereby making him one of the most fascinating men in the Atlanta area.

1 comment:

  1. This was a good suggestion that you put up here...dude…..hope that it benefits all the ones who land up here. 

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