What To Look For In A Personal Trainer And How To Get The Most Out Of Them

10/20/2017 11:30 am ET

If summer bodies are made in the winter, now is the time to start getting your fitness game plan together. But as the saying goes, “If you do what you’ve always done, you’ll get what you’ve always gotten,” so perhaps, you might want to consider incorporating a personal trainer into your fitness strategy to help you get the body you’ve always wanted, to prepare for that Tough Mudder you put off this year, or to help you smash your marathon PR. We spoke with personal trainers from across the country. Here’s what they say you should consider before hiring one and how to get the most out of your time with them.

On cost…

Let’s just get this one out of the way real quick. A personal trainer can run you up to $120 per session depending on location, if they are private or connected to a gym, and their expertise; but Equinox Trainer Keyen Lage says you should think about value, not cost. “Care about your health now so you do not have to invest thousands of dollars in medical bills later on. Working out, sleep, and a proper diet are all about prevention.” But if you are still thinking about cost or value, remember a trainer is providing you with personal assistance, encouragement, and expertise to help you overcome emotional and physical challenges and reach your fitness goals. Not to mention all of the thirst traps you’ll be able to post on Instagram; you’ll break even here.

What to look for…

According to Miami-based trainer and owner of Another Level Fit, Ralph Pino, certification and personality are the most important things to look for. “You’ll definitely want to look for different types of credentials that show your trainer is experienced and committed to fitness,” he says. “Additionally, approachability is key because like with any relationship, you need to be able to communicate effectively with your trainer.” San Francisco-based trainer Clarence Hairston agrees, “Yes, credentials and experience are important but you could have the most experienced and knowledgeable trainer in the game, but if you don’t trust them or feel comfortable with the program they have designed for you, then you’ll never be able to reach the finish line.”

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When you should get a trainer…

“Ideally you should get a trainer once you realize your activity level has decreased and especially before a marathon race or group fitness competition,” says Romio Fitness & Training Expert Kemar Cohen. “This will help refine your movement patterns, build more mind-body awareness, and prepare you for activity that is out of the normal realm of daily activity.” Even if it’s just once a week, or just for a short period of time to learn some new skills, Clarence adds, “There is a trainer out there who can help you become a better version of the person you are now – you know, a version that doesn’t go “woo hoo” when you poke his stomach. Just saying.”

Getting the most out of your trainer…

Every trainer we spoke to says that communication is the key. “Just as you need guidance from your trainer to reach your goals, your trainer needs guidance from you to make sure they are making the session the best experience possible,” says Clarence. “You and your trainer are a team. The more honest you are with your trainer, the better your trainer can develop a great program for you to get your best results,” added JR Allen, Romio Fitness Expert. Speaking of communication, don’t annoy your trainer with unrealistic goals. Telling your trainer your high school reunion is in a month and you’d like to look like The Rock by then won’t fly. “It’s unrealistic, unhealthy and won’t work,” says Clarence. Another pet peeve trainers have – turning gym time into a therapy session. “We’re not therapists,” says Ralph. “Rather than putting energy towards talking about personal issues, re-focus that energy towards getting a good sweat – you’ll forget you had a bad day.”

According to researchers at Kansas State University, working out with someone who is fitter is a no-brainer. In one study, they found participants worked out for up to 200% longer if they felt they were with someone who was better than they were. So working out with your equally-as-out-of-shape bud isn’t cutting it. Get a trainer.

Lamar Dawson is a pop culture junkie living in Manhattan. Follow him on Instagram and Facebook.

This article originally appeared on Scotch Porter.

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