What should you look for in a personal trainer? A hot body. The end.
Just kidding! There are actually extremely important attributes to consider when hiring a personal trainer, but before we get to them, here are some red flags to avoid:
Lack of engagement. Are you spending your sessions on a series of machines (its own red flag — at the Phoenix Effect, we utilize precisely zero machines) while your trainer takes selfies of his butt in the mirror? Repeat after me: “You’re fired.” This rule applies to the time in between appointments, too. We’ve all had that friend who will hang out with you in secret but ignores you at school, so why would you pay someone to treat you that way again?
Lack of programming. If your trainer isn’t designing your workouts, you can bet he or she sure isn’t conducting research or putting much thought at all into your personal fitness program. Given that “personal” is half of our job title, this is inexcusable.
Not drinking his or her own Kool-Aid (or protein shakes, really). As one could infer from quality #1 above, it’s a bad sign if your trainer is eating during your session. It’s an even worse sign (the last sign, hopefully) if he or she is eating, say, an entire bag of Red Vines while they should be conducting your workout. Same thing goes for a trainer with terrible posture, chronic injuries, and excessive body fat: if his or her own fitness doesn’t inspire you, move on. (And for the record, if you do see your trainer drink actual Kool-Aid, repeat those two magic words again.)
Got it? Great. Now give me 10 burpees. I mean, now onto the three features that comprise an excellent trainer:
Honesty. While any personal trainer worth his or her fee is well versed in anatomy, kinesiology, exercise physiology, nutrition — and some light psychotherapy, let’s be real here — no one person can know everything. An honest trainer has no problem saying, “I don’t know, but I can do some research and find out” (a critical addition occurring after “but”), even when he or she could easily BS a technical-sounding answer. Likewise, an honest (good) trainer will set realistic expectations; you won’t hear him or her promising “four percent body fat in four days and biceps that could poke your eye out!
Versatility. If you, for example, have a tear in your hip flexor but want strong quads and glutes, your trainer had better not make you squat. You are paying us to customize a program (remember: it’s “personal”) that will help you achieve your desired results, so if he or she is either unfamiliar with workarounds or unwilling to budge, it sounds like your entire fitness regimen needs to adapt accordingly (including your choice in trainer). Agility (not the ladder-drill kind) goes hand-in-hand with creativity (and results, more to the point), and at the Phoenix Effect, not only are no two classes identical, we solve proactively for bootcampers’ specific injuries by offering regressions and directed attention whenever possible.
Passion. Does your trainer love training you? Does he or she believe in you and, most importantly, move you to believe in yourself — both in and out of the gym? If so, you’ve met your match.