When it comes to reaching your fitness goals, having a coach can be a valuable asset. A coach can help you stay accountable, motivate you, and guide you through exercises that are tailored to your needs and goals. In short, a good coach is like a guide. This is your journey, you're going to be the one who puts in the work, but a guide is the one who provides clarity so you get to your goal as soon as possible and with as little a headache as possible.
However, not all personal trainers are created equal, and finding the right one for you can be a daunting task. Here are some things to look for when searching for a personal trainer:
Let' get this one out of the way. There are a lot of trainers in the industry that had an awesome transformation themselves, and that's great! However, while personal experiences give a coach some perspective (and hopefully empathy), it doesn't mean that they can do the same for you. What works for some people may not work for others, we all have different backgrounds, training availability, injury history etc. Having a good understanding of topics like anatomy, physiology, nutrition, behaviour change is extremely important. That being said, your coach doesn't need to have a Masters Degree, there are incredible coaches serving this industry who didn't go to college.
Look for a trainer who has the proper education and certification from a reputable organization such as the Canadian Society of Exercise Physiology (CSEP), the National Academy of Sports Medicine (NASM), the American Council on Exercise (ACE), or the National Strength and Conditioning Association (NSCA). This ensures that your trainer has the knowledge and expertise to guide you safely and effectively.
Ask your potential trainer about their experience working with clients similar to you. Are they familiar with your fitness level, age, or any pre-existing medical conditions you have? An experienced trainer will be better equipped to create a personalized plan that fits your needs and goals.
A coaches job usually extends past the one hour session. To make sustainable change, a good coach will consider what you are doing the other 160ish hours of the week. This is going to require some great communication skills. Your trainer should also be able to communicate clearly and effectively with you during your session. They should be able to explain exercises and techniques in a way that you understand, and be able to answer any questions you may have.
A coach can be brilliant and know everything about exercise science, movement execution, nutrition, etc. but if they aren't a good person who cares about your success, the likelihood of staying with it is low. Your trainer's personality and coaching style can play a significant role in your success. You want to work with someone who is motivating, encouraging, and supportive. Consider scheduling a consultation first to see if it's a good fit.
Good coaches will refer out if needed. If you have a specific fitness goal or condition, look for a trainer who specializes in that area. There are a lot of good coaches who are great at helping clients lose weight, but may not be the best person to teach you the Olympic Lifts. Individuals who want to train for a marathon should probably look for a trainer who has experience coaching runners.
In summary, finding the right coach requires some research and effort, but it can make a significant difference in your fitness journey. Look for a trainer who is certified, experienced, a good communicator, has a positive personality and coaching style, and is familiar with your specific needs and goals. With the right trainer, you can achieve your fitness goals and improve your overall health and well-being.