Eliminating the Lug Nuts: How to Find a Good Trainer

Time to get results.

Dollars and muscles
It's about more than the money.
Finding a good personal trainer can be about as much of a hassle (not to mention almost as expensive) as buying a new car. Too often people decide with their wallet, their eyes, or their apathy and end up with a trainer unfit for man or beast. So how do you find the right trainer for you? Well, it is easier than you think. With a little thought, the right assumptions, and a few questions for your potential trainer, you can vastly increase your chances of signing up with a good personal trainer.
Can I Have the Burger with the Rat Feces? You wouldn't go to a restaurant with an inspection placard that showed a score of 20%, would you? Well, go with an uncertified trainer and you can't even expect that his mental muscle has ever been exercised even to the most minimum level required by certification programs. It would be like walking into a restaurant with NO inspection score, and you can only guess how disgusting the back room is--and trust me, it is usually worse back there than you could ever expect.

So brush up on your certification programs. A short list of respected certification programs includes: ISSA, NASM, ACSM, NSCA, AFFA, and ACE. Be sure to see your trainer's certification during the initial interview. And DON'T fall for the "I am working toward my certification" line. There are plenty of certified trainers out there. While he might be a great guy, there is no need to take chances with your money and your body.

Kick the Tires. Most people find trainers through their gym- this tip applies especially to them. Never sign up with a trainer on the same day you get your gym membership! Take some time and work out by yourself, keep an eye on the various trainers and their clients. How do they treat their clients? Are all their clients doing the exact same workout? Does he disappear during his trainees workouts for long periods of time? Does she spend most of the session talking to other trainers? These are just some of the things to look out for.

Also, if your gym offers FREE training sessions take full advantage of them. Moreover, try to train with as many different trainers during that period as possible--consider it a test drive.

Open up Your Wallet. This isn't Let's Make a Deal, trainers offer a valuable service and a good trainer earns his weight in gold. Any trainer that you can pay pennies on the dollar probably isn't all that good. So how do you know you're getting a good price?

First, there is always room to bargain a little. The first price they quote you is almost always negotiable. And even if it isn't, trainers will often throw in multiple free sessions to get you to sign up.

Second, if you are paying less than $25 per session, be worried. A fair price for a trainer ranges from $30 to $90- depending on their certification, experience, and the cost of living where you reside. So adjust the figures accordingly (for example, if you live in New York expect to pay more).

Third, be sure you know your trainer's policy on cancelled sessions and refunds. This can be the source of much dispute and anger later, so better to get it out of the way now.

A Good Trainer is worth the Price

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Get the Digits. Step one, ask your trainer for references that you can contact. Step two, contact those references. It is amazing how many people miss step two--apparently asking for references only as a bluff. When you call the list of references, ask about their results. Where did they start and how far has he taken them? Did their hard work combined with his training know-how pay off? Has he been reliable and professional?

Good trainers get results; lug nuts only get your money.

One Size Fits All. Is the nutrition/training sheet your trainer gives you just a black and white copy--the same one he hands out to all his clients? Or does she/he give you a personalized workout and nutrition plan? You are paying for a personalized approach, so make sure you get it!

Good Trainers Personalize, Bad Trainers Xerox

Can't we All Just get Along? There is nothing worse than putting down several hundred dollars on a personal trainer only to find that the two of you can't get along. So pay for a few individual sessions (even if it costs a bit more). This will give you an opportunity to get to know the trainer, see how he runs his shop, and strike up a rapport. You aren't auditioning him/her for the role of best friend, but you should expect a certain level of professionalism.

A good trainer is always professional

Looks Matter...or Not. Looks matter and they also don't matter. Confused? Well, looks don't matter when it comes to how physically attractive your trainer is. Sure I understand that one female trainer with the blue eyes and the long blond hair is gorgeous. However, you can ogle her from the treadmill instead of shelling out your precious dollars. Don't get me wrong, if she is also a good trainer than sign on up, but don't go on looks alone.

When do looks matter? Is your trainer a dumpy guy or gal who looks like he or she just walked in off the street? Then chances are they did just walk in off the street. Some gyms in the U.S.A. have a bad habit of hiring people without a certification (and little experience) if they cross their heart and double pinky swear to get their certification within the next year. You are paying for a professional, not a novice.

A good trainer looks like a good trainer

Remember, a good personal trainer can be essential to your success. A good trainer will motivate you, push you, and work with you to help you achieve the body you want--within genetic limitations. If you can afford it, this is an investment that will pay off in the long run. So treat it like an investment and do your research. Happy head hunting.

John Kaiser

John Kaiser is a devoted husband and father, and author for Straight to the Bar. He blogs over at Total Transformation Test.

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