Please start with How to Choose a Personal Trainer (and Gym). Part 1 for starters. Ok, let’s presume you know all you need about the trainer’s background and personality. Now it is time for step #3: Go for a first class. This is when you will get 90% of the information you need. Keep these five questions in mind:
1. Is it safe here? We don’t only mean those rare cases when the trainer unexpectedly jumps on your back, as you are stretching to do a split, shouting, “You can do this!!!” (That really happened by the way). What we mean is that trainer is partially responsible for preventing injuries from using incorrect exercise techniques. Obviously, it is good to have the safety basics of exercises explained to you prior to the exercise itself. This is a vital step in every class, be it lifting weights, step aerobics, treadmill work and, of course, Pilates (Pilates is significant because it focuses on your lower back, your core muscles, and your posture).
2. Do I get enough attention from the instructor? Obviously, when you are in a one-to-one class, you have the right to expect 100% attention from your instructor. But even in a group class, an experienced trainer will deal with almost any class size and still keep you in their eye zone. Pilates, though, is slightly different. Because of the high importance of the precise technique of every exercise, the maximum group size is eight.
3. Is the tempo and intensity right for you? You don’t need fancy fitness trackers to tell you if the class is too challenging.
If you need a rest – just go ahead and take a few minutes. It is your body.
4. Do you like the personality of the trainer? For your fitness journey to be successful, you should find a coach that motivates you in a way that fits your personality. Choose a trainer who will cater to your personal needs and learning preferences. While some people want to be pushed to their limits by a drill sergeant type, others will work better with positive reinforcement and gentle encouragement.
5. What do your guts tell you? Do you like this experience so much you are ready sacrifice your one-hour evening nap on a regular basis? Because if you don’t like it, you will not stick to it. Maybe, you should try something else. Willpower is a limited resource, and you should spend it wisely.
The next day: the class aftertaste. Does it feel good after class? Do you feel energized or exhausted? Please keep in mind that the, “No pain, no gain principle,” is very last century. In fact, delayed onset muscle soreness means you have overdone it, and may have injured yourself.
Other important factors to keep in mind:
Location and Cost. Consistency is key. Be sure you have adequately estimated how much time and money you are willing to spend on this bright part of your life. By the way, if you like a particular instructor, but cannot use him because of location/time etc., – ask if he provides Skype sessions or webinars!
With personal trainer, it is worth asking about the plan. Be suspicious if you are promised something too optimistic. Curing a spinal hernia in one week, or losing 20 pounds in three days, would be simply unrealistic. Sustainable results take time and a lot of effort. Having said that, it is also true that your trainer should be able to mark some checkpoints, and explain how you will measure your progress. Also, if it is about weight loss, an honest trainer will explain to you the 20/80 principle: 20% of your success depends on sport or training activity, while 80% – depends on nutrition. We, as personal trainers, often feel frustrated by people expecting immediate results with minimal effort while buying lunch in a drive-thru.
Does this trainer have testimonials from previous/current clients? Good, reliable trainers do.
And last but not least – a very disputable question: What does he or she look like? We think the rule of thumb is that a trainer should practice what they preach. If the trainer promises you a slim, toned body – look at his body first. Bulky muscles – the same thing. If he says he has no time for himself, because he is so busy teaching you and other clients, signals problems with time management, or self-motivation. Either way, perhaps, you should look elsewhere.
We think the rule of thumb is that a trainer should practice what they preach
Please keep in mind, that Pilates has its own specifics: It is more about your health, than about body image, though a Pilates specialist with really bad posture should freak you out.
Hopefully, you now have all the information you need to go ahead and find your fitness coach. To further inspire you, here is the very first rule of the PMA® Code of Ethics (PMA – the Pilates Method Alliance – is the professional association and certifying agency for Pilates teachers): “Do no harm.” Now that sounds trustworthy!