Whether you are starting to exercise for the first time, are looking to spruce up your current training program, or maybe you just completed physical therapy and are looking to continue your recovery a good personal trainer can play an important role in your health and fitness. However, with so many different personal trainers out there, it can be difficult to pick the right one for you. So the physical therapists and personal trainers at our Cary NC physical therapy practice got together to help you simplify the process. Here are 5 questions you should consider when selecting a personal trainer.
1. What is your personal trainers experience level and area of expertise?
A good personal trainer should have education in anatomy, biomechanics and exercise programing. Some certifications can be obtained during an online course, while other personal training certifications require a 4 year degree and a certain level of hands on experience. Certain personal trainers are also better at working with a certain clientele. For instance some specialize in working with athletes, while others are experts at weight loss. Learning what kind of clients your potential personal trainer has worked with, and what their background is will help you make an educated decision on whether or not this person might be the right trainer for you.
2. Does your personality mesh with your personal trainers training philosophy?
If you decide to start working with a personal trainer, you should recognize that you will be interacting with this person a lot. Part of a personal trainer’s job is to motivate, educate and most importantly help you reach your goals. Some trainers are more intense while others are more laid back. Ask yourself if you are the kind of person who needs someone in your face motivating you, or someone who is supportive in a low key manner. If you don’t get along with your trainer because your personalities don’t mesh, they you are likely going to dread coming to the gym to train, and reaching your goals may become all that much more difficult.
3. Is your personal trainer more concerned with progressing your exercise program and adding more weight, or are they focused on form and technique?
Form and technique should be a priority for every personal trainer. It’s hard to improve your health and fitness if you are consistently getting hurt and unable to train. So a trainer should spend as much time as you need to perfect your form and technique on whatever exercise you are working on, prior to loading you up with a bunch of weight. A big red flag is a trainer who asks you to start squatting with a loaded bar prior to looking at your body weight squat mechanics.
4. Is your personal trainer flexible and can they adapt?
A good personal trainer should have a plan for you, and this plan should match your training goals. With that being said, sometimes life events happen where we may need to deviate off of that plan. Missed training days due to family emergencies, illness or injury are all possible. Being able to make quick adjustments to a certain training day/week/month may be necessary, and your trainer should be able to make those adjustments. If you aren’t physically ready to progress to the next phase of training for whatever reason, your trainer should not progress you. The “no pain no gain” philosophy should not apply here.
5. Is your personal trainer willing to admit when they don’t know something?
Let’s face it, we all hate admitting when we don’t know something, but the reality is a client may have a problem or ask a question that the trainer may not know. It’s impossible for us to know everything about everything, which is why we work as a team. Personal trainers are great at what they do, but when pain or dysfunction becomes involved, a personal trainer may or may not be equipped with the knowledge and skills to help in this situation. This is the physical therapists role in the health and wellness arena. So while there may be situations where the trainer may be able to help, if you as a client ask a question that the trainer isn’t comfortable answering, you are much better off with a trainer who is honest with you and tells you they don’t know so they can help you find someone who may have the answer you are looking for. This is important because it helps build trust in your trainer, and can help keep you safe.
About the author:
Dr. Kevin Prue PT, DPT, CSCS is a graduate of Duke University’s Doctor of Physical Therapy Program. He is the president and director of Prue Physical Therapy & Sports Performance (www.pruept.com) located in Cary NC. He specializes sports and orthopedic physical therapy, sports performance training and injury prevention for youth and recreational athletes.