A personal trainer can be the difference between fast tracking your fitness goals and struggling to see progress.
Personal trainers are professional fitness coaches who are certified through one of several accrediting organizations including NSCA, ACSM, and NASM.
This certification is essential because it ensures the trainer has completed the requirements to become a trainer. What’s more, it offers a level of security and reassurance to the trainee, allowing you to rest assured that you’re in good hands.
If you’ve been struggling to see progress in your fitness goals or you’re a newcomer to exercise and you want to make sure you start off on the right foot, a personal trainer can help.
But make no mistake about it: Not all personal trainers are created equal.
Let’s take a look at what you should be looking for when hiring a personal trainer to ensure you get the one that’s best for you and your needs.
First, let’s talk about where you can and should hire a personal trainer. You have two options: in-person and online.
Traditional personal training is based on in-person sessions, and you can find this type of training inside of commercial gyms or private studios. Here are some examples of popular gyms that offer in-person training:
While it is ideal for immediate feedback and corrections, there are some downsides to in-person training.
First, the expense of in-person training tends to be a lot higher than that of online personal training. This is because in-person trainers have the overhead cost of the gym to worry about.
What’s more, sometimes in order to sign on with a trainer, you have to become a member of that trainer’s gym, which can be another added expense you weren’t expecting.
Dealing with in-person training means you are on that trainer’s schedule, so if he / she only works certain hours, that’s what you’re stuck with. Of course, that rigid schedule can be good for some who need that extra accountability and are willing to adjust their schedule accordingly.
During the time of COVID-19, you are at a higher risk of getting sick, especially if the trainer is sharing space with other trainers and their clients.
Overall, in-person training lacks the no-hassle convenience of online personal training.
Online personal training can take place through your laptop or cellphone. If you use your laptop, you can go directly through a trainer’s website or a third-party software such as Zoom.
If you use your phone, there are apps that allow you take part in personal training. Here are some examples of popular online personal training apps:
And many more online trainer “market places”. One of the downsides of online training is there are tons of apps and services that claim to offer personal training when really there isn’t anything personalized about what they offer. So, sifting through the options can be tedious.
CoPilot service is one of the only remote options that offers the same benefits as in-person training without hidden fees, additional costs, or inconvenience of travel.
You get to select the coach that works best for you and your schedule. CoPilot is super convenient, affordable, and no gym is required. Plus, you don’t need to schedule Zoom calls, you workout on your schedule for only a fraction of the cost of the other training options.
Next, let’s review the specific things that you should look for when searching for a personal trainer.
I mentioned this briefly above, but once you decide whether you want an in-person or online personal training, the first thing you should check is to see if what type of certification they have.
Does he/she have a recognized certification? There are only a handful of trusted personal trainer certification organizations, including the following:
Some honorable mentions would be NCSF, ISSA, and AFAA certifications as well; however, the above are slightly harder to achieve so they are preferred.
See trainers with a CSCS (Certified Strength & Conditioning Specialist) certification? A CSCS is an extremely difficult certification to achieve and only a handful of trainers ever achieve it. If you find a trainer with a CSCS, they will likely really know their stuff!
Need nutrition guidance along with physical training (most people do)? Look for a coach who has Precision Nutrition or NASM Nutrition Coaching certifications. They won't be able to be as prescriptive as a full-blown dietitian, but they will be able to offer a ton of great guidance.
Does your trainer have any relevant degrees? Many high performing trainers will have degrees in Exercise Science, Human Performance, Athletic Performance or similar fields. Some will even have a Master's or PhD's as well. While there are tons of great coaches who have never gotten a direct degree, you know the ones who do have a degree have invested a lot into their education and are dedicated to helping others.
How long has the trainer you’re interested in been actively training? In other words, how much one-on-one experience do they have?
Even if the trainer has one of the most-respected certifications and you get along great with them, if they don’t have any one-on-one experience with clients, that means you’re a guinea pig.
Try to find a trainer with at least a year of hands-on experience under their belt.
You found a trainer with the right certification and experience but not much in the way of testimonials.
What are the clients saying about this trainer?
Well-loved trainers have no issues at all providing you with testimonials and client reviews.
Whether through Google reviews or a personal website, the trainer should be able to provide you with testimonials as well as before-and-after shots.
The exception would be if the trainer is relatively new and still building an online presence.
YOUR TYPE OF TRAINER
Look for your type of trainer and try to avoid one where your personalities clash.
For example, some people like an aggressive trainer that gets loud and motivates them with different phrases like, “Come on, you got this!”
If that’s not your style and you prefer a calmer trainer who gently encourages you, this is what you should be looking for.
It’s easier to find a trainer who is your speed, rather than expect a trainer to change who they are and how they work.
I recommend considering this last and not letting it be at the top of your list. Here’s why:
If you find an amazing trainer who is a bit more expensive than everyone else, there’s a reason for this.
That trainer probably has a ton of experience and certifications – that’s knowledge they took years to learn, and they can easily pass it on to you in a fraction of that time.
What’s more, wouldn’t you rather pay more for someone who can help you achieve amazing results AND you love training with?
There’s no doubt that in-person training is the best way to give real-time feedback and instant corrections. But given the price point, inconvenience of traffic, and risk of getting sick, is there a better way?
Online personal training through a service like CoPilot features low-cost training that pairs you with elite coaches. You get the same high-quality attention and form feedback as you would in person, but without any of the downsides.
If you want to see how effective one-on-one personal training can be from the comfort of your home, check out CoPilot.