The three qualities that make a good personal trainer great.

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Thinking about hiring a personal trainer?

What is the difference between a good trainer and a great trainer?

 

Unfortunately in today’s society we encouraged to believe the best personal trainers are the ones with the biggest instragram following, the leanest abs, or most booty shots.

Particularly for someone starting out our getting into fitness this can be very confusing and misleading as to what to look for in a trainer in real life.

The nuts and bolts of getting fit already exists on the internet, I understand there is a lot of biased or misrepresented information which can makes things feel hard or overwhelming but just sticking with the basics will dramatically improve your overall health.

So acknowledging there is no secret training methods or programs that will get you ripped in 6 weeks what most people need is for the missing piece of the puzzle which connects the information with the action. You are looking for someone to guide you, motivate and encourage you.

The days of a personal trainer just giving you a program of reps and sets are dead. What you are seeking is a coach.

Here are my top 3 qualities that make a great trainer

Compassion

The majority of personal trainers enter the industry with the desire to help others. Unfortunately as part of the certificate in fitness skills like emotional intelligence, empathy and compassion are not taught.  Some people are born with these skills, others need to practise a little more and learn them, it is certainly possible.

We also live in a more is better culture and training HARD is worn as a medal of honour, whilst rest days are for the weak. Whilst trainers believe they are doing the best job by holding their clients accountable, pushing them to their limits,  they are also creating a relationship built on unequal power, resentment and guilt. Unfortunately a lot of trainers have mistakenly exchanged accountability for bullying and shaming.

Imagine this scenario. You have had a terrible night’s sleep because you have been awake all night with PMS symptoms. You don’t want to cancel and let your coach down so you turn up to your morning session feeling super average. Your trainer tells you about the intense workout they have planned and you reply that you’r really not feeling up to it.

Option 1: Your trainer says “this is what you’re here for, let’s work now or you will regret it later. No excuses”.

You push through the session, struggling with back pain and lethargy and leave feeling drained and worse than before you started. You feel annoyed and resentful that your trainer didn’t listen and decide to blow off your next session even if you are feeling better.

Option 2: Your trainer asks what’s going on for you, listens and acknowledges how you are feeling. Your trainer asks if you would like to do either a shortened version of the session planned or work on some mobility and flexibility. You decide on the

You leave the session feeling still tired, but happy you were able to do something positive for yourself when you are feeling crappy. You feel heard and supported by your trainer.

Flexibility

This is not about the ability to touch your toes or do the splits. It is about a personal trainers ability to be flexible about their ideas and beliefs.  It is not expected that they know everything about every topi. It is however a skill to be open to new ideas, to read widely and to be curious enough to have open discussions and conversations.

Too often trainers are selling their services based on that’s is what has worked for me and therefore it will work for you too. This is false. Everyone is an individual and every body deserves to be treated as such.  The worst thing I see is trainers who create regimented restrictive and eating and workout plans which when questioned will say things like “trust the process”.  These trainers often start inflammatory fights online about what training protocol is best without the ability to listen to others perspectives or acknowledge the possibility that they are both right.

To find out if a personal trainer is a flexible start with the question why?. Why this exercise, why this way and why this long. Be curious as to why they became a personal trainer and how that has affected their training styles.

Smarts

Not being technically smart or knowing algebra or complicated algorithms, and everyone knows personal trainers can’t count anyway.

It’s about personal trainers using all the knowledge and turning it into something that is easy to understand, accessible whilst also educating and empowering.

It’s normal when personal trainers first start to jump on a few popular training bandwagons. To under or overtrain clients, to train all clients the same way. I have heard from more experienced trainers that if you are not ashamed by your programming five years ago you are not growing. The important part is to notice if your trainer is open to learning, open to getting feedback and open to sharing knowledge.

Too often trainers just want to smash clients, leave them sweaty and sore. It is a myth that you need to be experiencing muscle the soreness the next day to know you had a good workout. Understanding this myth and understanding the train smarter not harder principles can make the difference between and good trainer and a great trainer.

Great trainers will be able to give you what you want alongside what you need. Most people need work on posture due to so much desk time, a great trainer will seamlessly slip these exercises into your workout, rather than telling you “today we are doing posture work because you need it”.

There are many other skills that make up an awesome coach, but those are my tip three. Look for someone compassionate, open to feedback, always learning and improving and willing to empower you as a client.

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