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Things your personal trainer should be doing...but probably isn't

In 2012 there were around 260,000 personal trainers in the United States (according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics) and this number has definitely grown since I've hired about 30 more of them from 2013 to 2015. I had to make sure each one of them knew how to take a client's blood pressure without fumbling around with the cuff and stethoscope, how to do a bodyfat percentage assessment using calipers, and how to make the perfect program for a client based off of assessments and screens. Even then, the client wasn't sure to stay around or even succeed because the trainer lacked a few things or just didn't care for their craft. Lets explore what you should see in your personal trainer.


1. Your trainer should do an initial assessment. A thorough one.

This is the first date. This is where the trainer asks questions and volunteers no solutions until the end of the conversation. This is where the trainer gets to know the client's wants and needs and why the clients wants and needs those things. They ask what your goals are, why you have those goals, what your injury and medical history is, what your workout and nutrition habits are.

The trainer should also do an assessment of some sort; something to establish a baseline to know how much progress is to be made in the future. Be it a body fat measurement, a Functional Movement Screen, a strength test, or even a step up test. Something that helps give the trainer and client insight as to what work needs to be done and how much time it will take.

Some trainers bypass this very important process because they think this is a waste of time. They think the client doesn't care about the numbers and data and fear that the client will be turned off to training if they push it. The initial numbers are for the trainer, the reassessment numbers are for both of you.

A trainer assesses thorughly and properly. If they don't, dump em.


2. Your trainer should reassess.

A good trainer will do the initial assessment, then get to work. They will program, and train you; they will make you do the things you want and need to do to achieve your goals. And then they will make sure that what they are doing with you is actually working by comparing you to you. That is, they compare your new self to your old baseline self. They should choose a predisposed timeline, one that gives ample time to really see a difference in your numbers. This can be 1 month, 6 weeks, or even better, 3 months.

Some trainers don't like to reassess (given that they assessed in the first place), because they fear that you wont see progress and won't want to continue, they feel it is redundant and will take up time, or they just plane don't see the benefit; if they don't see the benefit, neither will you.


3. Your trainer should constantly be learning.

Your trainer should be worth his weight in gold for what you're paying them. And with that, they should be constantly learning how to improve their craft. If it is treated as such, that makes their work and your progress much more substantial. This means that they are constantly attending conferences, certifications, and continuing their education. At least they should be; not only because it will make them a better trainer, but it's a requirement from any nationally accredited certifying body for trainers to acquire continuing education courses.

Ask your trainer what certifications they have and what other plans they have to continue to grow and learn. This will make them more valuable to you and they will definitely be excited to show you what they learned to make you better.

Trainers bypass this crucial process because they either feel they don't want to take the pay hit from leaving the client to go and pay for a course, or they feel they don't need to learn anything that can't be learned from Youtube. This is dangerous and careless; the moment the trainer feels they don't need to keep learning, your program suffers.


4. Your trainer programs for you, not performs for you.

A good trainer knows how to piece together the right exercises, at the right time, for the right client. They have acquired the necessary certifications, they have been experienced in the correct forms and techniques, and now they must pass that knowledge on to you.

The trainer you don't want is the one that makes you do "workouts" and puts on a show for you with the workout they did with their 3 other clients that day and mashes it together with a workout posted from their favorite bodybuilder on T-Nation. You don't need that kind of unprofessional in your life. Find the trainer that writes out complete programs for you based on when they will reassess and you goals you have. The good trainer is able to program progressions for you to make sure you're constantly progressing.


5. Your trainer knows how to adapt and keep you safe.

Say you've been making very notable progress in your program. And you've been training with your trainer at least twice a week with great conversations about why you don't like squats and the lot. Then, all of a sudden you wake up with a "twinge" in your shoulder or an ache in your lower back. You helped your daughter move in to her college dorm room and you decided making multiple trips was for the weak.

What does your trainer do then? Do you cancel your sessions entirely? Do you run to a bottle of Tylenol and ibuprofen and tough it out? Well, hopefully you and your trainer are comfortable enough in conversation to be open with what the issue and you trust your trainer with what can be done to make sure there is no halt in progress.

Like the chameleon, the trainer should be able to adapt to their surroundings to ensure safety.

Like the chameleon, the trainer will adapt to their environment and make sure what ever it is you are doing is safe. The trainer has enough experience and knowledge to be able to change the workout to help suit your needs, as well as add exercises that hill help the dysfunctions and imbalances that caused the issue in the first place. I'm not saying the trainer is a licensed physical therapist able to "fix" anything, but you hired the trainer based off their knowledge and expertise and this is where it shines. Trust your trainer and keep going.

That includes knowing when to step aside and refer you to a medical professional to gain more insight to the problem and program accordingly.

Trainers bypass this because they haven't programmed the entire time and now they don't know how to make a change to a program that never existed. Or the trainer has not been reading or continuing their education and feels like they can help you no matter what from reading a blog or Youtube video. This is very dangerous for everyone and the trainer has now sacrificed the well being of the client for the integrity of the ego. A good trainer is humble and is will to help, no matter what.


I hope that this has been insightful and made you feel better prepared the next time you meet with a trainer. It's a service and a craft and the trainer should respect the human body enough to take care of both.

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