Tips For Finding The Right Personal Trainer For You

Making the commitment to getting into your best shape is one that can require some serious thought and planning. For some individuals who are just beginning their fitness journey, jumping into a home workout program can be a great way to start. Others may choose to go to a gym to use the variety of available machines and equipment designed with fitness in mind. It's not uncommon for individuals to have a workout or gym buddy, someone who helps keep them accountable to their fitness goals. For some individuals, however, these options simply aren't enough and more guidance and instruction is needed. When programs and classes aren't fitting your fitness scheduling needs, you might consider the idea of hiring a personal trainer.

The National Federation of Professional Trainers (NFPT) explains that a personal trainer is an individual who has been specifically trained to help others achieve their fitness goals. These individuals can assist clients in a variety of ways, acting as a mentor, coach, support system, and even a motivational system to help achieve fitness goals. However, while personal trainers should have an expansive knowledge of fitness and exercise, the NFPT states that a personal trainer should not be providing medical or nutritional advice to clients. But how do you know when you should consider hiring a personal trainer — and how to select the best one for your needs?

Signs you might need a personal trainer

Personal trainers are a great resource for helping you to establish a new fitness routine, achieve specific fitness goals, or break through plateaus in your fitness journey, according to Healthline. If you're brand new to creating a regular workout schedule, a personal trainer can evaluate your current level of fitness and help you to establish a tailored routine to get you moving in the right direction. They can also help you with maintaining accountability in your fitness journey and provide you with some basic education on body movements.

Personal trainers are also a good idea for individuals who have very specific fitness goals, like cutting body fat or improving running stamina. Their extensive knowledge of how the physiology of the body works can be a great tool to create a unique plan aimed at your specific goals. For instance, according to Runner's World, strength training is an important part of improving running performance. Personal trainers can help by creating routines to target muscle groups that will improve your running performance.

Another time to consider a personal trainer is if you have hit a fitness plateau. Fitness plateaus occur when your body has become accustomed to the activities and intensity of training that are being done (via Healthline). Plateaus can be difficult to overcome alone. Healthline recommends a personal trainer to help identify the potential causes of your plateau and help you adjust your workout routines and exercises to get your progress moving forward.

Cost and commitment

Before you reach out to any trainer, it is important that you have a good idea of what your overall fitness goals are. According to Men's Health, hiring a personal trainer is a major commitment both in time and financially speaking, so it is important to know what your goals are before you create a contract with a trainer. If you're not 100% certain on the best way to achieve your goals, having a broad idea of where you'd like to go is okay. In fact, Men's Health states that a good personal trainer should be able to hear your overall goals and help to create a fitness plan for you to achieve them.

Another factor that contributes is how much it can cost to hire a personal trainer. Men's Health explains that for a quality personal trainer, you can expect session fees to be $125 or more per session. FitBod adds that the cost of personal training services can vary based on the certification, experience, and location of the trainer. For a highly skilled, experienced trainer who is going to get you results, you'll most likely be looking to spend a bit more.

Where to look for a trainer

Once you've made the decision to seek out the help of a trainer, knowing where to look to find a reputable personal trainer can be a bit tricky. While the internet can be a great place to help find a new local restaurant, some aspects of hiring a personal trainer aren't easily accomplished through online communications. 

One of the best places to locate a personal trainer according to Men's Journal is the instructor or director of a fitness class that you are already taking. In many cases, individuals who lead classes like Zumba or aerobics classes at your local gym are individual contractors and also work as personal trainers. This can be especially helpful if you are looking to improve your performance or skill in the specific area the instructor teaches. For example, some individuals teach spin classes and can also work as personal trainers to individuals who are looking to increase their stamina or longevity for riding. Some gyms also have lists of personal trainers that are available for hire, according to WebMD. 

Another great resource for finding a personal trainer comes from referrals. If your friend, family member, coworker, or classmate seems to be in great shape, they may be working with a personal trainer they can recommend to you (via WebMD). So how do you know which trainers are worth the cost?

Deciding on a trainer

Finding a personal trainer that has the right credentials takes more than trusting the latest fitness Youtuber with the most followers. Anyone can claim to be a personal trainer, but only trainers who have the right education or certification are recommended by Men's Health. Personal trainers can be certified through a number of programs geared toward different styles, techniques, and levels (via ACE Fitness). Most certification programs require that the individual take and pass a comprehensive examination with requirements for maintaining routine renewal certifications. In addition to certification programs, advanced degrees in health sciences are a good measure to determine if an individual has received sufficient education to be a personal trainer.

But certification alone isn't enough. You want to be sure that your trainer is qualified to train in the areas you are looking for. For example, if you're looking to improve your running times, you may not want to hire a personal trainer who has only trained in heavy weightlifting routines before. Nerd Fitness explains that just because a personal trainer has experience or certification in one type of exercise, it doesn't mean that they are specialized in all types of exercise. You want to be sure that the trainer you select is one who understands not only your goals, but also your training preferences, and has experience training in those areas.

What works best for you

Once you've considered your options, thought about your overall fitness goals, commitment, and cost requirements, and researched the trainer options available, your next step will be to find someone who matches your personality. Redbook explains that you don't need to stay with your first trainer just because they're your first, especially if your personalities don't agree with each other. The best fitness instructor in the world can know all the best workout moves and ways to get the results you're looking for, but if your personalities don't match — well, it's likely that the training relationship won't last or won't be very effective. NBC News suggests booking only one session with a new trainer to start. This allows you the opportunity to see if your personalities and communication styles mesh well. You want a personal trainer who understands how to motivate, encourage, and push you in the best ways possible! 

When you're working to take charge of your physical fitness, it can be overwhelming trying to figure out exactly how to get to where you want to be. A personal trainer is a great resource for helping you understand how to achieve your fitness goals, break through those stubborn plateaus, and feel great about your fitness journey. If you've hit a plateau, need to get into that beach body shape by summer, or you're looking to take your fitness goals to the next level, you may want to start researching the personal trainers near you.