Let's be real: Finding a personal trainer who you jibe with can be a *hard* task—but it's not an impossible one. This guide can help you land on your perfect match.
Your Step-by-Step Guide for Finding a Personal Trainer
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When you stop to think about it, finding a personal trainer can be a lot like dating: It's tough to find that perfect match, the one who gets your goals and is able to zero in on them in a way that motivates you. And just like blind dates, more often than not, it feels like you sign up for a training session only to immediately wish you could say, "Check, please!"
The good news? There are some solid strategies you can employ to help you locate a fitness professional who will help you reach *all* of your goals. Consider this your guide. Just looking for inspo? These are legit, certified Instagram trainers to follow for serious fitness motivation.
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Step 1: Know Your Goals
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Regardless of what's led you to take the plunge and try to find a personal trainer, knowing why you want to work with someone will help make the process of finding that someone easier.
So before you walk up to the counter at the gym to sign up for a training session (many big-box gyms offer a complimentary trial session), know what you're looking for out of the experience. "An excellent membership advisor will hear out your concerns, interests, and match you with a trainer they think would be a good match for your personaliy," says Anne Reuss, a Denver, CO-based trainer. But you should be prepped to share some details about your goals, too, whether you're looking to train for a marathon or gain upper-body strength, so you have the best chance of being matched with someone who is a good fit.
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Step 2: Decide Where You Want to Train
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A big-box gym comes with some perks: They typically offer multiple locations, tons of equipment, class options, and even have self-care options (a la, access to dietitians or chiropractors and a spa). That said, larger gyms can also tend to be overcrowded during peak hours, says Jade McClure, a fitness and nutrition coach in Vancouver. Smaller studios or privately owned local gyms? They offer an opportunity to get to know staff and other members more closely and build a sense of a community, says Kris Briganti, co-owner of Inspiration Fitness in Golden, CO.
Don't want to go *anywhere* to train? Apps such as Adaptiv, Body Love, and the Tone It Up Studio app offer access to workouts and even virtual personal trainers so you can work out from the comfort of your own home.
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Step 3: Research Potential Personal Trainers
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Now that you know why and where you want to work with a personal trainer, you can dig a little deeper into who you think you'd mesh well with. Most gyms and studios offer personal trainer bios on their websites so check them out and find one with experience and credentials that align with your goals. "I often see clients getting stuck with trainers that don't fit their needs," says McClure, "For example, there could be a client who wants to focus on core training yet the trainer loves CrossFit so all their clients get intense CrossFit workouts."
To avoid that—and to find a personal trainer who understands your goals on a deeper level (say if you're a new mom and want to get back into shape), ask the manager or client services rep if there's someone on staff who has gone through a similar transformation or met a similar goal. If you're looking for training options digitally, browse trainers or workout programs by category (many will group workouts or professionals by what they specialize in).
On the site Trainerize.me you can also peruse thousands of personal trainers, narrowing down the list of potential PTs through a matching algorithm that's similar to a dating app. Stipulations like location, desired service, specialty, and cost weigh in heavily, and you keep swiping until you find one you want to connect with.
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Step 4: Test the Waters
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No amount of impressive credentials can make up for a personality clash with a personal trainer. "Book a consultation with a coach you're interested in and ask them a bunch of questions about how they would train you for your current goals," says McClure. Most consultations should be free and last around 15 to 20 minutes, and you should be upfront about shopping around, he says. Not only will you learn more about a trainer's coaching style, but you'll also learn more about whether or not you want to spend your time (and money) with this person.
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Step 5: Give Feedback and Communicate
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After you find a personal trainer, work together to set realistic, measurable goals so you are able to evaluate if the sessions are working, suggests Briganti. There will be good and bad days during your journey, but "if you aren't enjoying the sessions or you feel it isn't in line with the goals you asked for, speak up and let us know," says Reuss. The secret to any relationship? Communication. "Talk openly with your trainer," reminds Briganti. Just remember that it takes two to tango. Before you ask your trainer to change something, make sure you're doing your part and giving the sessions your best effort, says Julie Uhlen, a Denver, CO-based personal trainer.
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Step 6: Know When to Walk Away
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Not getting the results you wanted? Communicated this to your personal trainer, changed your workouts, and *confident* you're meeting your end of the bargain? It might be time to end your personal training relationship. There should be no hard feelings. Everyone isn't the right match every time, says Reuss. And remember: "The reality is, you are the customer. You are the one paying and looking for results so your needs are important," says McClure.
But don't put the pause on trying to find another trainer. "Through all of this you'll have learned what you want and don't want in your next coach," says McClure. Also: A professional trainer should be willing to recommend a colleague or suggest some new ways to motivate you to reach your goals on your own.
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