...when hiring a personal trainer.
Experience is important.
How many clients have they trained? What was the variety of the client base? Have they ever trained anyone with similar goals to yours? Its OK to ask for references and a resume. Remember, you're about to spend hard earned money and your health and safety is at the hands of someone else, don't be afraid to ask a lot of questions.
Is longevity is important.
Not quite the same as experience, but this is actual length of time/years. Knowing someones been around a few years might feel a bit more comforting than someone brand new. That being said, I still train quite a few people that I met at my first real training job. After all, a new trainer has to start somewhere but again, you need to feel comfortable. Plus there are quite a few "old," trainers still teaching very old methods and never evolved.. so maybe new is better?
Education is important.
The trainer needs to be able to answer as many questions as possible with facts, not opinions. Yes, there are many theories as to how to obtain certain goals however, this is also a science. And not having the education and understanding how muscles "fire," how joints move, how the metabolism slows down and how to speed it up, how different stresses on joints effect the muscles differently and stimulate growth, can hinder your progress, it can put your body in danger and it can waste a lot of your money. I have seen many, many clients spend money and a lot of time and still look the exact same.
If the trainer does not know the answer, he/she needs to say so. For instance, I know my weaknesses. I know I cannot comfortably plan someones weekly or monthly meals. #1 I'm not a nutritionist or dietitian. I'm pretty sure if an unlicensed trainer does write meals for you and something were to happen, there could be a law suit. (Someone told me that.)
#2 I'm not a nutritionist or dietitian.
More personal side note
I do not have a degree.
However, I read an incredible amount of health and fitness related articles and training case studies out of the National Strength & Conditioning Associations monthly journals. They cost a lot of money and are very specific. I hate wasting money so I read as much as possible to stay up on new tests, other styles that are going on worldwide and whats happening in college weight rooms. My main certification covers a very large portion of what is covered in most exercise science and physiology courses.
I read, I stay up date but not all trainers do. This goes back to my top point, ask questions, especially if you have some special needs or any lingering/rehabbed injuries. If they don't have the knowledge to program your training that best suits your goals and your body, they're not a good fit. They might be an OK trainer, just not a good fit for you.
Not having a degree only hurt me on paper early on, before a resume was built/established. I have trained professional athletes who have literally walked out of the workout to grab their cell phone to call their head coach and talk about the work outs. No lie. I don't brag or talk much about who Ive trained, but when cool things like that happen... its kinda worth repeating... a few times. Prior to coaching changes over the last 12 months in the Big 10, I had open invites in the top 2 football schools (in my opinion) to come in and work with the teams whenever I liked. That's not offered to just anyone. That sounds like a pretty cool "degree."
Professionalism is important.
All of these points I feel are important, but this might be 1 or 1A. If you're seriously considering hiring a personal trainer, first scout him/her out. By "scout," I mean watch from afar. Go to their gym and watch them interact with their clients. Watch their routines.
-Do they repeat for everyone, 4 sessions in a row? How much thought do they really put into a session if everyone who comes in is getting the same workout?
-Do they text or play with their phone during the session? You'd be amazed how I often I see this.
Are they dressed appropriately? If theyre wearing jeans, how can they show you how to squat or do anything below the waste? If theyre wearing a tnak top... why the heck would they be wearing a tank top? To look at themselves in the mirror? Again... hang with me for a few days, in the 3+ gyms Im in... you would be amazed.
Then watch them when they walk away from their client. What vibe do they send off? Hows their energy?
Again, its your money. Spend it wisely.
Empathy is important.
This was my other 1A point. Empathy. Merrian-Webster defines it: the action of understanding, being aware of, being sensitive to, and vicariously experiencing the feelings, thoughts, and experience of another of either the past or present without having the feelings, thoughts, and experience fully communicated in an objectively explicit manner. They need to be able to feel you.
To understand your why. Its critical. If they cant understand your why, there will always be a connection missing. In my opinion, the training will suffer. Without empathy, theres just an "x" factor that will be missing, a partnership. My clients goals become my goals, theyre now our goals, we're a team and I dont let teammates down. Those goals will happen. No one quits.
They have to be relateable, and this ties in with empathy. If they cant relate to you and feel your struggle, feel your passion, your drive, your intensity, how can they train you? If they cant pick you up and lift your energy and remind why you signed up, how can they train you? They have to be able to read your mood and feel your energy. With the ability to relate and feel and connect, the link to motivate will not be there fully. It might be there, but it wont be as strong as it could or should be.
Oh yeah! Get a background check too! Again, you're about to write a check for $500... you'd be amazed what you'll find out.
Wrap up it fella!
I have never lost a client due to lack of experience.
I have never lost a client due to any educational issues.
I have never lost a client due to anything that would/could be deemed unprofessional.
I have never had a client, fully commit and NOT reach their goals. Never. Full committment means train when its time to train, follow the homework and follow nutritional guidelines (especially those that now meet with Nick Kelly from Spotlight Nutrition, Blue Chips newest branch. See, I told you there I things I dont know, so I find a really, really, really smart guy who does know it).
I recently met with someone who I feel can take Blue Chip to another level, a level it needs to go.... stay tuned. Its going to get better and better.