Mar 24, 2023
What should you ask a trainer?
Recently a woman shared her misfortune of attending a fitness class and hurting her knee, and cautioned, “Be careful what fitness class you go to” to other gym-goers. This happens all the time. So this episode takes a moment, and supplies the questions you want to ask before you give up your trust to someone you don’t know in a gym, studio or online.
Unfortunately to be "certified" means literally "the minimum knowledge a trainer or instructor or health coach needs to enter the field." I’m a Subject Matter Expert for a popular agency you will recognize and this is the reminder we’re given at every meeting where we’re creating or reviewing certification exam questions. I’ve written for Health coaching, Personal training, and Medical Exercise Specialists.
So, you need to ask. You’re hiring them. Even if it’s not a trainer you’re paying hourly, or it’s a free session. It becomes expensive if it’s the wrong information. I don’t care how “sweet” someone is, do you?
Is the individual screened by the manager or owner? Yes. But it’s your guess as to how well. Some gyms care a lot about looks and image equally as much as knowledge and science. Some today because of the difficulty in staffing have lower standards in order to cover classes or shifts.
What to Ask a Trainer or Fitness Instructor
1) Was this designed for me ?
2) Was this based on research featuring women just like me?
3) Have you had success with women just like me? Tell me about some of your clients.
4) If I need a modification are you able to provide that during a class?
5) What kind of training do you have? Is it a degree or certification?
6) What was that training process like?
7) What was the most recent course you took for continuing education?
8) How do you determine what we do together, what is the program design like?
9) How often do you have to renew your certification? What kind of courses do you take to do that?
10) How many clients like me have you worked with prior to this?
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Your YouTube Fitness Instructor May Not Be Qualified
No one has to be "certified" to teach fitness. In today’s live streaming, ZOOM world it’s the wild west even more than it was prior to the pandemic. You may follow someone who you love and find out they aren’t. There are “influencers” and “personalities” on YouTube who do make up tutorials, share what they eat in a day, teach exercise… and home decorating… they aren’t experts in all of them.
For liability purposes gyms and fitness centers will require certification. But I can say from 40 years of experience ... if someone calls in sick.. there may be a substitute made last minute in effort for the "show to go on.” Every industry right now has difficulty hiring staff who are qualified, responsible, show up… and the fitness industry is no different. The hours are sporadic for many and the pay then is not great for most.
But let’s open up the other can of worms. Certifications vary a great deal. There are hundreds. They’re not created equal. You need to know what you want and need. Is it that you need someone to design your workout and observe your exercise technique, or you need the workout design, or you need the workout design in conjunction with hormones, joint care, pre-existing conditions taken into account? Do you know if you want and need a fitness trainer or a health coach?
A trainer can tell you the exercises, observe and share technique (to the level of training they have), and a coach can help you arrange it and may only ask what you want to commit to but not have the ability to design sequence of exercises, exercise session schedule for optimal work and rest ratio. A menopause fitness specialist will be able to dive into the exercise arrangement and the frequency based on your body status.
Quick Homework: Write out your specific needs.
Do you need to know exactly what to do daily?
Does that include the order of the strength training exercises and how many and how long to rest between?
Do you need someone who knows that knees or foot issues will prevent you from doing every exercise and need modifications instead?
Do you want a list of exercises? Or a video that you’ll follow from start to end?
Did you know though that most customers don’t ask about trainer or health coaches qualifications? If they do it’s not even in the first three questions a trainer or coach is asked. It is literally the 4th. We humans tend to care more about what they can do for us, and whether they can promise the results we want, than how a person got the knowledge or science- if in fact they did - to do it.
Now you know a little better what to ask a trainer, instructor, or health coach. I have a few questions for you. They may hurt.
Question for you that may hurt a bit:
Did you ask about the qualifications of your instructor at the gym last time you took a class? Or did you assume the gym or some manager or owner took care of that?
Did you ask your trainer if they were experienced helping women just like you or assume that they were doing their research about your hormones, joints, conditions, meds… specific to you?
Take back your power.
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