If simply getting through the last year has slowed your fitness goals, you may be ready to get your health and fitness levels back with the help of a personal trainer. While it is important to check a potential fitness professional against some important criteria such as their education, experience, reviews, and professional liability insurance, it’s also essential that you find a coach that fits your individual needs. Whether you are hiring the services of a personal trainer for the first time, or simply can’t find the right one, here are some tips provided by personal trainer Sarah Dorough to help find a productive relationship that cuts through the flashy Instagram profiles and sorts out the proper personal trainer from the posers.

Go the distance
When it comes to finding the right PT, going whatever distance that is required to see them should be a big consideration, so it might make sense to choose a local coach. Most of us won’t have the luxury of a PT that will come to our house and train us in our own on-site gym, so the chances are you will need to drive to each training session. Choose a PT that is easy to access, because sitting in traffic or making regular long trips to train could dampen your motivation. If you have your heart set on a particular PT, but find that they are too far away, check to see if they offer online consultations and programs.

Be honest
You’ve chosen your favorite personal trainer because they are the best in their field, but make sure to check-in with your ego. Don’t feel like you need to exaggerate your abilities in order to impress a coach because you feel intimidated by how many social media followers they have.

“It is so important for clients to be open and honest with their trainer,” says Sarah Dorough, an ISSA certified fitness trainer and sports nutritionist. An honest relationship is essential so that your PT can learn more about the real you, and any injuries or limitations they may need to help you work around.”

Set realistic goals
You may have dreams of playing in the NFL, or sprinting to new world records, and you may have been a sporting legend in high school, but you should also be realistic about where you are at right now, at this very moment, when selecting a PT. If you are not realistic about your abilities in the “here and now,” you may need a reality check. Much like being honest with yourself, setting realistic goals will involve looking introspectively and identifying injuries and other limitations such as weight issues. The right coach is the one that can work with you from day one. “I personally have had to say no to a potential client before,” says Dorough, who is a Level 10 gymnast. “If a client falls outside of my area of expertise but expects to achieve super-fast results in the same field, we have to be realistic about the potential outcomes. I will always do my best for a client, but this could mean referring them to a PT that is more suitable to their current predicament, especially if the client has medical conditions that need specific attention.”

The perfect PT is one that will work with your current fitness levels, so be realistic about where you are at. Many personal trainers are able to accommodate clients of all levels, but don’t sell yourself as an elite athlete if you are not there yet, because you could be wasting time and money.

Build a relationship
If you employ the services of a personal trainer, you will be visiting them multiple times each week and spending a significant amount of time with your coach. If you find that your PT made lots of time for you during the initial sign-up process, but now spends much of your sessions gazing at their cell phone, you might not be receiving the attention that you deserve. If the relationship is not open and productive, it could be time to move on to a different trainer.

“Our goal as trainers is to set a positive atmosphere for our clients to grow in,” says Dorough. “Your PT should be setting aside time to find out as much as they can about you, from previous injuries to any current mental health issues”.

One size won’t fit all
“There are different types of trainers and it’s important that you find the proper one in order to start out comfortably,” says Dorough. “A client who doesn’t have much fitness experience or knowledge of exercise and nutrition should make sure they are working with a trainer that will be able to support their needs with extra motivation and patience.”

Even where your level of fitness matches well with the expertise of your new personal trainer, there is still the potential for a personality clash. If you feel that you don’t respond well to your coach’s particular training style, don’t let them derail your fitness goals. Ask yourself what personality traits you require in a trainer and feel free to call several trainers, engage in email conversations, and vet them appropriately. After all, you will be spending a significant amount of time with your new PT. So, for example, if you are female, and would feel more comfortable with a female trainer, go for it.

Commit yourself
Finding success with a personal trainer is as much about you as it is about them. There are thousands of personal trainers on social media, but there’s nothing ‘Insta’ about making sustainable fitness gains. “Clients should be aware that results require commitment and time,” says Dorough.

If you are not attending sessions or your diet is out of whack between PT sessions, don’t blame the coach. That said, if you can find a trainer who is accessible and gives you the appropriate amount of care and attention because you’ve been honest and realistic, we are sure that the relationship between client and coach is the key to unlocking your health and fitness potential. Happy hunting!

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