If you’re going to pay someone to kick your butt, it had better be worth it.
You want to make sure you hire a coach with the right experience and training style to help you reach your goals (and someone with a personality that makes you want to get out of bed for those early morning boot-camp sessions!). Sound like a tall order? Ask these questions, and you’ll be sweating your way to a new you in no time. (Find out which Canadian gym won our 2018 Best Gym Awards.)
Q: “What do I want to achieve?”
Are you training for a marathon, or trying to lose the baby weight? Understanding your personal fitness goals will go a long way toward helping you hone in on the right trainer. “If, for example, you have knees that don’t function the way they should, and you want to work on those and get fit at the same time, you might look for someone with a physiotherapy or kinetics background. If you’re looking for fat loss or weight loss, you might look for someone with a background in nutrition,” says personal trainer and coach Tracy Steen, owner of Move Daily Fitness in Kelowna, BC.
Q: “What experience do you have helping people achieve similar goals?”
A 25-year-old man might be a great trainer, but if you’re a perimenopausal woman struggling with pelvic floor issues, he might not be the best fit. “Whether they’ve personally gone through it, or they have certain credentials and they’ve studied that particular thing, is important. You want someone who understands what your struggles are,” says Samantha Montpetit-Huynh, a Toronto-based personal trainer and co-owner of Bellies Inc., a company that helps women prepare for and recover from pregnancy and childbirth.
Q: “Can you provide references?”
People feel weird asking for testimonials, says Montpetit-Huynh, but no one can vouch for a trainer’s awesomeness as well as clients who have worked with her and seen results. “[With] anything else you’re dropping tons of money on you’re searching around for the best, and you’re asking for references,” she says, adding that a trainer can look great on paper but have no idea what they’re doing, or favour an approach that might be exactly opposite from what you want.
Q: “What will a training session look like?”
During consultations, Steen tries to paint a picture of what a workout with her will entail, so the new client will know exactly what she’s signing up for. Will you be doing non-stop burpees while she barks orders, drill sergeant-like, from the sidelines? Or will she sweat it out beside you offering encouragement and motivation? “If it’s not the direction you want to go, look for someone else,” says Steen.
Q: “Can we meet over coffee?”
You wouldn’t marry a man you’d never met, yet Steen is boggled by the number of women who sign up for trainers sight unseen, cross their fingers and hope for the best. “Meet with them, and get a vibe on how you interact and connect,” says Steen. “You spend a lot of time together. You end up talking a lot, so if you don’t connect then ugh.” Montpetit-Huynh concurs: “If you’re meeting your trainer every morning at 6 a.m., you’d better frickin’ like them!”
About the cost…
Personal trainers can be expensive, so ask up front about costs. Here’s our favourite tip, courtesy of Montpetit-Huyn: Ask if semi-private is an option. Some gyms can match you with members who have similar fitness goals, which will bring the cost way down.