You better adore your personal trainer- you'll be spending a fair amount of time together! 

You better adore your personal trainer- you'll be spending a fair amount of time together! 

I’ll never forget my first personal trainer- a welterweight boxer at a commercial gym in New York who used to march my pin thin, chain-smoking body into the ring and have me jump rope for minutes at a time while he furiously punched out texts on his mobile phone. That relationship didn’t last very long, and losing $900 out of the deal in my broke college days taught me a valuable lesson about handing over dreams to someone without doing due diligence first. Now, as a coach and trainer who hires other coaches to train me (I have a competitive event I’m gearing up for and just enlisted a qualified pro to prepare me- more on that later…), I’d like to think I’m a little bit wiser than the twenty-something wisp of a chimney I used to be. With that disclaimer out of the way, here are eight points to consider when seeking a personal trainer or coach:

1. Make sure that the trainer is accredited by a well-respected international organization and holds current CPR and AED certifications. ACSM is known to be the “gold-standard certification,” and NASM and ACE are also highly regarded. Be forewarned- there are many trainers in Singapore who are not certified from a reputable source. Don’t be afraid to ask for certification verification.

2. Trainers are never “one size fits all.” Think about your specific goals and find a trainer who specializes in what you need. For instance, if you are aiming to stay in shape while pregnant, locate a female trainer skilled in prenatal fitness. Looking to build strength and gain definition? A personal trainer or coach who specializes in weight training and who is a bodybuilder would be very helpful. Looking to run a marathon? Hire a trainer who has been there and done that, and who has a track record of getting clients to the finish line.

3. Do you actually like this person? A personality match is key to a successful relationship between client and coach. Before committing to anything, schedule an initial meeting with the trainer to make sure that the two of you click. Good personal trainers and coaches almost always offer a complimentary assessment or initial training session prior. Use this as an opportunity to see if you can actually hang out with this person, as you’ll be spending a fair amount of time with them!

4. Does the trainer or coach have a high level of empathy? Empathy should be a job requirement in the health and fitness industry. You need to know that your trainer can give you emotional support during your fitness journey, and that they take a real interest in your well being. Work with a trainer who will listen and be responsive to your needs. If the trainer or coach bullies or belittles you, or tries to get you to do things you’re uncomfortable with, RUN!

5. Umm, how’s your trainer looking? This may seem shallow, but wouldn’t you rather work with a trainer who is in good shape? Won’t you be more motivated by a person who takes pride in their appearance and physically challenges themselves?
A personal trainer who does not seem to care about their body may not care about yours either, and likely doesn’t have the experience necessary to guide you on your journey. Of course, there are exceptions, but they’re rare.

6. Communication skills should be tailored for the 21st century! Does your trainer use desktop tools and applications to monitor and graph out your progress? Can your trainer or coach offer sessions over Skype when you travel, or keep in touch with you through social media and mobile apps? Professionals who can harness new technology to keep you on track offer advantages that should make your life easier in the long run.

7. Exercise is only one component of getting in shape- don’t forget nutrition! Look for a trainer who has education and certification in nutrition, either as a nutrition specialist, nutritionist or dietitian, depending on your needs. If your trainer doesn’t possess this knowledge, is he or she working with someone who does? Your trainer or coach should be able to guide you in making healthier food choices. If you’re an athlete or training for a specific event, a professional with sports nutrition and supplements knowledge may also be beneficial to you.

8. Finally, find a trainer who can stick with you throughout your journey and get you to your goal. Remember, however, that your trainer or coach is only actively with you a few hours a week, and has no control over what happens when you open the refrigerator door! That said, if you commit to putting in the work, your trainer should be able to guarantee results.

What other qualities do you think a trainer should have? Are you currently working with a personal trainer? Any memorable training experiences- good, bad or ugly? Leave your comments below- I’d love to hear from you!

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