April 10, 2013
By Lisa Snow
Spring reminds some of us to try to get in shape for swimsuit season, while others look forward to running in the park. But before you hire a trainer or join a class, be sure you’re picking the right fitness professional for your goals and personality.
First, get clear about your number one goal. Are you trying to lose weight? Gain muscle? Prepare for a race? Be camera ready for a wedding? Get back to sports or life after an injury? Magazines may tell you that you can build muscle and burn fat at the same time, but the truth is that clients who focus on only ONE goal get the best results.
Second, consider your personality. I like to know the how and why of everything, so I prefer trainers who are first and foremost educators. However, some clients aren’t interested in technical information and just want someone to encourage them (“cheerleaders”), while other clients want tough love (“drill sergeants”). One style of training isn’t better than another, but it’s critical to pick a trainer who is on your wavelength. If you wanted a drill sergeant, for example, a trainer like me who has more of an educator personality would not be a good fit.
Third, ask questions. In addition to just reading the Neighborhood Trainer profiles of the trainers you’re considering, it helps to actually email several trainers. If they can’t give references when you ask, it’s definitely time to try a different trainer! If they do send you references, actually call those people or email them. I’m amazed how rarely people do this! Clients often assume that just because the trainer gave references, they must be good, so they don’t bother to call. But the references can tell you all kinds of things about the trainer’s personality and character that you might not find on a profile page. Did the trainer help that client through a difficult experience like a divorce or job loss? Did the trainer find the client books, websites, and other resources they wouldn’t have found on their own? Are they especially patient and skilled at working with beginner exercisers?
Lisa Snow offers 1-on-1 personal training and small group personal training in Manhattan, specializing in older adult fitness and post-rehab for all ages.