It's not impossible to slim down and get strong on your own, but having some extra motivation in the form of a paid drill sergeant certainly can't hurt. A knowledgeable professional can push your limits in a safe and progressive manner, and weekly scheduled workouts will help keep you on track. But if you don't know where or what to look for when shopping around for a personal trainer, you could end up a lot poorer and not an ounce fitter. Use these tips from Bud Fallon, ACSM, NFPT, NASM, owner of Studio 1-on-1 Private Training Center in Venice, California, when you are looking to hire a kick-ass coach.
1. Keep it local. Convenience is the number-one factor you should consider when searching for a trainer, according to Fallon. "Pick one who works within five miles of your home or directly en route to and from you workplace," he suggests. Driving by the facility every day will be a reminder that your training sessions are close by and easy to get to.
2. Be vocal about your preferences. "Some people prefer male or female energy, and I respect that," Fallon says. But one misconception to throw out the door is that men can't train women and vice versa. "Personality is much more important than gender when it comes to choosing a trainer," he explains.
3. Make sure they have the right experience. If your goal is to lose weight, make sure that the trainer you hire has had successful experience training someone with that goal. The same advice applies if you are looking to enter a competition. In that situation, Fallon recommends that you ask the following questions:
- Have they ever prepared someone for a contest before?
- Can they map out a schedule from the beginning to the end of the journey?
- Can they tell you what to expect in terms of time commitment, nutrition, etc.?
- Do they have answers to your questions about the psychological experience ahead of you? (This is a factor that Fallon feels is often overlooked.)
4. Do your research. "It is way too easy to become a trainer in our culture," laments Fallon. Instead of just looking for the term "personal trainer," look for a person with a nationally recognized certification or a degree in an exercise-related field like kinesiology. Check out their track record, too. "Ask to speak to their former or current clients, and take the time to watch them work with other clients," he says. And make sure that they have a flexible schedule: as Fallon says, you shouldn't be fitting into their schedule - they should be fitting into yours.