The Good Trainer
According to the inter-webs, there are some 300,000 trainers in the United States. What the actual criteria to be considered a trainer are, I do not know. I think it is a safe guess that the largest portion of this 300,000 is personal trainers that you find in just about every gym in the U.S. Most of these people have nothing more than a certificate to say they know what they are talking about. In some cases, a person doesn’t even need a certificate to be a trainer. You can just simply call yourself one.
Personally, I think experience and education can come in many forms, so I am not all that impressed with a bunch of letters behind a name or any certificate anyway. Still, this leaves a lot of people with a tough choice. How do I know if I have a good trainer? Which trainer should I hire?
1. The first thing to look for is if your trainer is ripped.
If they are lean and ripped, then they must know what they are doing, and even more importantly, this obviously shows they can coach you to get similar results. Maybe they just have great genetics to be in that shape, which still makes a good match because you were probably in awesome shape when you were younger. Let’s say you’re looking just to lose a little weight, gain strength, increase mobility, increase health, or even gain a better quality of life, then this person can totally help you because, again, they are ripped. Six-pack abs are all the credentials you need!
2. If a trainer does have six-pack abs and you often seem them eating at fast-food joints, then you have really stumbled onto a treasure.
This trainer has obviously learned the secrets to nutrition and training. You have spent your whole life eating fast-food with the end result being that you need a trainer. Finally, you’ve found the trainer that can teach you the secret of the six-pack ab fast-food diet. I say pay them whatever they ask and enjoy the amazing results that await you.
3. When a trainer spends a lot of time on their cell phone during your session, this is actually a good thing.
This means they have great confidence in the quality of your training, and they do not feel it is necessary to actually coach you. They are graciously allowing you to learn on your own from your own mistakes. You should feel honored a trainer of this quality allows you the pleasure of paying them and to say you are trained by them.
4. When a quality trainer is asked a question about training from a client, they will become extremely frustrated.
The trainer will usually begin to speak some ancient language that has not been spoken in over 3,000 years. It was taught to them by ancient aliens who also taught them their advance training techniques. These techniques are way too complex to be spoken of in a common tongue that a normal person could understand. When you hear complete gibberish, you will know that a trainer knows what they are talking about and the secrets of the ancient aliens.
5. If a trainer continually talks about records they have broken, championships they have won, or certifications they have gotten, then beware.
This can be a good thing or a bad thing. You are looking for trainers that have done these things but only in obscure federations, sports, or certifications you have never heard of. This means they are modest, humble, and prefer a low profile. Anyone can be a champion in a well-known federation or sport. Those people are just in it for the glory and fame, not the love of training. Someone that doesn’t need that outside gratification competes in unknown sports with little to no competition. They are truly dedicated and do not need to prove how accomplished or good they are. This, of course, is why they brag about it.
6. Some of the best trainers never say anything about training while you’re actually training.
This is simply because they have mastered telepathy, which was probably taught to them by the aliens. They do not need to actually speak to you about proper technique, body positioning, and correct movement patterns. They just use their advanced mind-melding skills to get you to lift and move correctly gradually over periods of decades. If they are unsuccessful, it is because you are not fully open or ready for their form of telepathy. It could not be a superior being’s fault you do not understand.
7. One of the greatest skills a trainer can have is the ability to count.
Let’s face it: the most important thing about training is counting. If you can’t count reps and sets, then what are you even doing in the gym? If you see a trainer pull out an abacus, then you need to get them to train you and don’t even ask about price, just pay it! It is a special gift to be able to count and keep track of three or four sets of eight to ten reps. I am gonna go out on a limb and say it is a priceless skill that you can not possibly master on your own!
8. If a trainer offers you instant gains and instant gratification, then sign up on the spot.
Long-term gains are such bullshit. If a program works, then it works in the first couple of days if not hours and a great trainer knows this. In fact, if you make gains in the first couple weeks but then stagnate for the next two years, just keep paying them.
9. When you ask a trainer for your next exercise, and they make you wait while they look up YouTube training videos, then you’ve got a winner.
This shows they are very into continuing their education and are willing to do research even on your time. This is the kind of dedication to a career that has given trainers such high prestige in our society.
Is everyone picking up on the sarcasm I have been so thickly laying down here? I do not consider training people to be rocket science, and most people do not need the Stephen Hawking of trainers. On the other hand, there is a lot to being a knowledgeable, safe, efficient, and successful trainer. If you think about it, a trainer is responsible for helping you with your body and health. I know the expense of a trainer is a consideration for most people, but what price can you put on your body and health? The choices to select and hire a trainer are decisions that should be given some serious consideration and thought.
Good trainers do not come from classes, books, or seminars. They are not made from genetics, either. The best trainers live the lifestyle they preach. There is so much to be learned from classes and books. Seminars and continuing education are necessities. There is a difference between passive learning and active learning, though. What a trainer has done and accomplished is not the end-all, be-all, but it is very relative to their knowledge. What they have helped others achieve is also extremely important.
This cannot always be seen with a simple glance, though. You have to look deeper than just physical appearance and you have to understand the goals of their clients. This brings me to a very important point. If a trainer never speaks of goals or asks what you are looking to get from their service, do not hire them.
Trainers that get too caught up in the scholarly aspect of training tend to miss the big picture. They often get wrapped up in the reps, sets, and weights of it. They tend to regurgitate information with a lack of free thought. Since everyone is different and has different circumstance free thought is a must for a quality trainer. This usually comes from years of experience on themselves and others. It comes from the school of life and struggle.
A trainer that sees the big picture will often ask you lots of questions about all aspects of your life because they understand how it all affects your training. You will also catch these trainers observing how you simply move during the time they are with you. These trainers will be able to modify their programming on the fly. They will not treat you like a number or statistic but as an individual. The best trainers will coach you on technique and movement patterns. They will continually be analyzing you and actively searching out your weak areas. They will be concerned about your mental health as well as your physical health while always looking for new ways to keep you on track to your goals. They will tell you what you’re doing well and improving at while letting you know what still needs work. Basically, they will be honest with you.
I think the choice to get a trainer is a great decision for many people. Remember: it is about hiring a knowledgeable trainer that fits you. A trainer that is dedicated to their work and has a passion for it. A trainer that understands it is about the journey. It is about them teaching and you learning from them in order to best reach your goals. It is about you both being the best you can be.