This article in The Columbia Star was brought to my attention by a few clients this morning. I read it and couldn't wait to get home and write about it. This article is disturbing both in tone and substance. I wanted to be sarcastic and ask so many questions. But at the end of the day, I had to concede that this story is one I've heard many times over. The way this was written personally offended me as fitness professional because it served up a plethora of stereotypes and left its readers discouraged. I would like to offer up a gentle rebuttal that encourages potential clients to do their research and then reap the benefits of hiring a great trainer.
According to The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention 34.9% of US adults are obese. With numbers like this, no wonder there are so many gyms/studios/trendy fitness boutiques and personal trainers are popping up everywhere. It's very important to do your research because not all personal trainers are made equal. South Carolina lacks a licensing process or even a governing body to monitor the work of a "personal trainer". My block alone has at least 6 personal trainers and we all differ in style, equipment, education and personalities. How would one even choose between us?
Here are a few tips:
- Listen to your gut: The trainer should immediately make you feel comfortable and they should listen to you and take notes. You should be 100% honest about your health, health history and fitness background. Take mental notes of how they carry themselves and what kind of lifestyle they lead and whether you could spend 1-3 hours a week with them alone.
- Ask about their career summary: Ask about their experiences and their successes. They should have a resume with licenses, certifications, continuing education credits, first aid & cpr, blogs, testimonials and more. Ask them how their background can help YOU and YOUR SPECIFIC NEEDS. Don’t hire someone you would make fun of (aka “Biff”). Hire someone who inspires you and challenges you.
- Ask for referrals: Ask them to give you the contact information of some of their clients that you may talk to that have similar conditions as you do. Then ask that client about their experiences and how the trainer helped them.
- Research more than one trainer: As I stated earlier, there are 6 trainers on my tiny block in Columbia, SC so just picking one based on price or the internet suggested facility may not be the best way. Call and vet the trainers, ask questions, see their space, ask for a complimentary session. Do your homework, I'm just saying...
- Hire the trainer: Hire the trainer of your choice but don’t sign long term agreements or sign up for more than a month or two at a time. It’s important that your trainer keeps up their end of the deal and if they don’t- you should be able to fire them without consequences.
An article like this discourages people from hiring a personal trainer and the mocking tone adds to every stereotype. Personal trainers are not governed or licensed and some can call themselves personal trainers after one weekend online certification. It’s important that the potential client do the research to hire the right person. The relationship between trainer and client is an important one. They can add consistency and individualized instruction. They can change up your current routine. They can offer sport-specific training, injury rehabilitation and special-needs training. The right trainer can give you an ego boost and positive feedback. The right trainer can do all of these and I personally know many exceptional trainers in Columbia and would happy to help you connect to one.