7 Tests for Your Trainer
Choosing the right personal trainer is more than just another task. Your new trainer will touch upon many of the deep themes we face in these modern times: a little bit of celebrity, undivided personal attention, the elusive promises of transformation and improvement. As you begin to take responsibility for your new body and life, it’s important to know how to spot the bad apples in the barrel, so you have the best shot at a successful transformation. Here are 7 types of personal trainers I would avoid:
The Lazy Trainer. Is the trainer overweight? Does he or she stand around so he doesn’t have to bend or lift his/her own body? If you notice your trainer doing this while stretching you, tell him/her that you’d feel more comfortable on a padded floormat and ask to move.
The Texting Trainer. Does the trainer make phone calls and send text messages during the workout? A great trainer is laser-focused on watching your form and jumping in with a little assistance when your muscles fail. Training requires discipline, and if she’s texting or talking to other clients on the phone, she’s more worried about her social calendar than your safety. Personally, I’ll take an urgent call, but while I’m working with a client I encourage clients to leave their phones behind.
The No Notes Trainer. Does your personal trainer keep records or notes of your sessions? A truly great fitness pro won’t waste your time trying to jog his memory or play around with weight levels. It takes less than a few seconds to jot down a few numbers in a chart; these numbers will save you both time. If your trainer doesn’t document your workouts, ask him/her: “How do I know when I’ve made progress?” or make mental notes of your session, and see if it matches the trainer’s version.
The Gossipy Trainer. Does your trainer have boundaries, or run at the mouth? Training isn’t therapy, and the great trainers know this. A true pro will not gossip or engage you in conversation while you’re performing an exercise, because he/she knows that you need every ounce of focus and concentration to perform the movement correctly. If your trainer is a little too much Dr. Laura and too little Dr. Squat, maybe it’s time for this line:
I don’t remember a psych degree on your resume,’ [chuckle]. ‘Let’s get back to it, shall we?’
The Selfish Trainer. Training is a service profession, and the selfish trainer forgets that the client is also a customer. Can you imagine an Olympic coach asking his athletes to rearrange their practice around his personal social calendar? Trainers ought to put the client’s hour ahead of their own desire to work a regular schedule. It is important to have consistency in your training and ask for a set schedule.
The “Point and Tell” Trainer A great trainer works much like a training partner, helping to maneuver weight plates, dumbbells, and set machine resistances for you. If your trainer is pointing and telling you what to lift, maybe you should suggest he do the Hillary instead of training you!
The Sick Trainer. Does your trainer work when s/he is sick? How about this actual exchange I overheard between a trainer and his client:
TRAINER: (sneezes, wipes nose, extending hand) “Hey, good to see you!”
CLIENT: “Same here. Are you okay?”
TRAINER: “Aww, well I’ve got a real bad sinus infection, and I’ve just been nursing it with lots of Vitamin C,” [drinks from container] “I didn’t get much sleep last night either—up all night with the neighbor’s cats. I guess you’ll be lifting all the weights today, ha ha.”
I cringed when I heard this conversation. Yikes. Yet this is one of the worst offenses a health professional can bestow upon the public: spreading contagious, yet avoidable communicable diseases like the common cold or flu. A sick trainer belongs in one place: Bed.