You want to begin a fitness program and you know the only way you are going to stick with it is one of two ways – hire a fitness professional (personal trainer), or join a group fitness class.
Although you know the benefits you are hesitant at the same time because you’ve heard stories from friends and acquaintances how they stopped working out because they didn’t like their trainer.
No worries, by following these simple guidelines, they will help you find your perfect fitness professional.
Before beginning a program, set up an informal meeting with your fitness professional and see how comfortable you are with them. I recommend you also watch the body language of your ‘prospect’ – perhaps they are not comfortable with you. Remember, if you are going to be spending anywhere from half hour to full hour with your trainer, you want to feel comfortable and have a good rapport. Think of them as your friend – well if you’re a good fit with one another, you will form a friendship – would you spend time with someone you don’t like? Not likely – no matter how much people rave about this fitness professional, if you’re not a good fit, you’ll dread every minute with them and your goals will not be achieved because you just want your training session over and done with.
Now when you meet your potential fitness professional (trainer) how is the conversation going; are they listening to you or just raving about what they’ve done for other people. And when I say listening, do they hear what you’re individual goals are and what you’re seeking help with – weight loss, getting lean & trim, guidance on eating. Remember, you will be paying them for achieving what you want, and not what they think you want.
Let’s be honest, your weight gain, unhealthy eating habits, back issues and stiffness didn’t happen over night. It’s going to take some time to see and feel results – no worries, if you stick with your program, positive changes will occur – do not believe your trainer when they tell you it’s possible to loose 10-lbs. in a week and change ALL your unhealthy eating habits in under 30 days – this is very unrealistic, very unhealthy, and you are being set up for failure and disappointment. Your trainer needs to be honest with you and not set you up for false hopes. You’re paying them for results after all and not for disappointment.
I recommend you find a trainer who is closer to your own age, not only will you feel more comfortable with them, but chances are they will set up a program more geared towards what you are currently capable of doing. There are countless times a new client tells me about last trainer, how much younger their trainer was than they are; they felt their exercise programs were geared for someone much younger and fitter – I’m talking about having to do exercises that you are struggling with but your trainer refuses to modify them or persists that you can do them, “They’re not that hard and you need to persevere through.” An example here, making you do 20-leg lifts in a preachers chair yet you do not have the arm strength to hold your own body weight nor do you have the abdominal strength to even be able to lift your legs.
If you injury yourself is your trainer able to make ‘on-the-spot’ changes or modifications to your exercise program? There may be times that you injured yourself or are really stiff from something you did on the weekend (for example, raked the lawn, shovelled snow) – it’s Monday morning, you have your training session at 6:30AM, and you haven’t been able to get in touch with your trainer to tell them what happened. Now before you begin your exercises, you communicate your issues – is your trainer able to and do they change the exercises they have planned for you? A good trainer will be educated and able to toss your planned program to the side, giving you a new set of exercises that will not lead to more injuries or irritate your stiff area. In fact, they may even gear your program more towards a lot of long, gentle stretches, or recommend all sessions are on hold until you get your injury looked after and receive a hand written ‘okay’ from a medical professional before continuing.
While on the topic of modifications, does this also apply to group fitness classes? Yes, it does, after all you have made the decision to begin a fitness program, and a group class is what you prefer over one-on-one training. It is important that the trainer who is leading the class, calling out the exercising, explaining and demonstrating the exercises, needs to be giving modifications to address the class as a whole – including participants that may have limitation. You need to feel comfortable in the class, know that you are able to execute the exercises without worrying about hurting yourself or if you are doing the exercises incorrectly. A good trainer will be good at explaining the exercises, your form, technique, and where you should be feeling the exercise, always emphasising to not feel pain and to listen to your body.
Now, not all group fitness classes are applicable for every fitness levels to participate in. Please note that there are different styles of fitness classes, and it’s equally important to acknowledge if a class is specifically labelled for advanced fitness levels it is not recommended you participate in them if exercise is new to you. An example, if the class involves using nothing but barbell weights and dumbbells, yet you’ve never even held a barbell and don’t know how to hold it or where to place your hands, the last thing you want to do is try this class only to feel lost and spend the whole class confused about what to do. Familiarize yourself with the equipment first. Crossfit is an excellent example; due to the high performance levels, use of specific equipment, and the types of exercises that are done I do not recommend you jump in and join this type of class.
How welcome and comfortable do you feel in the group fitness class you are joining? Feeling welcome and part of the group will help you stick with your exercise routine; a wonderful camaraderie will be formed among the group, and you will actually look forward to each and every class. Does the trainer leading the class greet you and the other participants as you each enter the class; thank-you for coming and dedicate time to exercise? Acknowledging the participants and letting them know their time spent in class is an important key element to finding the perfect fitness professional.
So whether you decide to hire a fitness professional (personal trainer) or decide to join a group fitness class, following these simple guidelines will help you find your perfect fitness professional and stick with an exercise program. ©