questionswhat should i know before working with a personal…


I assume your trainer is certified. If not, run. They're there to push you, not break you. If they've got you doing ridiculous things before you're ready then find a new trainer. You should be able to show up with your workout gear and water and they should show you what to do. You don't need to bring anything other than those things and a "I can do new things" attitude. Remember, trainers aren't one stop shopping and they each have their own personalities and styles. If you don't like the way they do things there are tons more out there. Make sure that you enjoy what they're having you do, if your workouts are boring or drudgery then ask for a change of pace or style. Not everyone likes doing the same sort of thing so they're going to have to tailor your workouts to you. If they won't then they're not worth the expense. For example, if a trainer wanted me to do a lot of steady state cardio on the treadmill I'd run as far and fast as I could. Away. From them. Good luck!


I have never used a personal trainer, but one thing you should do is find out the cancellation policy. If you have to skip a session, do you still have to pay? Do you get a make-up session? My next thing would be to make sure I learned every single machine and exercise, taking notes and even video if appropriate to be sure you can continue on your own. My department is currently being stored in a back room of a rec center. They have a good weight/equipment room available for $17 a month which I could use on my breaks and on the weekend, which in theory I cold get my health plan to refund $10 of. But I have gone in and scoped it out a few times and I really don;t have any idea how to properly use most of the equipment. I have some issues with my knees and lower back and I am wary of doing something wrong and hurting myself instead of helping myself. I wish they'd offer a class here at the rec center on the equipment.


@zuiquan: I've signed up through my gym, who only hires certified, so that's a plus. They allowed me to say if I had a preference in type of person as my trainer (I don't) and told me that I can always switch to anyone else they have available, which is nice to know since I'm in for 48 sessions!

@moondrake: The cancellation policy isn't bad. I have to give 24 hour notice to cancel a scheduled session & I don't lose anything for doing so. The sessions I've already paid for do not expire unless I leave the gym, which I don't plan to do for at least 2 years (We got a FANTASTIC deal signing up because they just opened & we signed up early!) As for the learning, the first thing I plan to explain to my trainer is that I cannot afford to train further than I've already signed up for (heck, I can't even afford that!), so I need to learn everything I can. Once I've got my bearings a bit, I want to go through every machine, every exercise, every reason why so i can continue in the future.


Both Men's Health Magazine and Women's Health have tons of workouts on their sites . . . full-body workouts . . . cardio . . . workouts or moves that target certain areas, etc. . . . all free for copy/pasting into your favorite smartphone notetaking app for use at the gym. The funny thing is, I often see the personal trainers at my gym using these moves on their clients right after MH publishes a new workout. Coincidence?

In other words, once you get through with these sessions, there's plenty of free info out their for the taking.


@rayray8822: Good to know I'll be able to find reminders online later!

I'm most excited about the motivation part of training - learning that I can push myself farther than I previously chose to, and having to work out on a consistent basis. Once I'm in somewhat better shape at the end of these 5 months of training, I have a gym buddy that will help with all of these factors, but I'm so far behind her at the moment, it wasn't realistic for her to work out with me much. Pretty excited for that time!


@zuiquan: Certification means very little, if anything, as they're easily earned, online, etc. There was a groupon for one not long ago. A lot of the trainers in my area and have worked with have undergrad degrees and are working on their masters in related fields.

A first session should never be to start working out. A first session should be where s/he gets to know what your goals are, i.e. weight loss, strength, rehab, endurance, where you are in terms of abilities and knowledge and go from there.

Usually, you'll meet with him/her once a week for assessment, routines and make sure you're doing them properly, etc. Don't be afraid of asking what a certain exercise does for you because they should know.

Also, they will probably do a body fat analysis. Most will use some bioelectric impedance analysis tool - sends current from one part of the body through your body to another part. For the most part, they're crap because it can vary depending on the amount of water in your body.



Any trainer worth anything should be able to perform a body fat measurement calculation with the calipers.

But remember that a trainer is only a guide because you're only meeting with them weekly so they can show you what to do. The rest of it is up to you - going to the gym, doing things right, and pushing yourself. Have fun!


@first2summit: Actually, certification means that you've been able to demonstrate knowledge in a particular field up to a certain degree set by the certification agency. Just because you can learn something over the internet does not make it any more or less valuable than "in-person" learning. I finished my Bachelor's online and I can tell you that it was much more rigorous and difficult than all of the previous schooling I've had. I've been to DLI (Chinese Mandarin) as well as other universities and the online put a much greater load of the learning responsibility on me as a student. Now, there are certifications that are more or less rigorous than others but they do set a sort of minimum standard. Most certifications also require you to continue your education to maintain your certification. I would rather a person earned a certification and demonstrated basic competency because they've shown they're at least somewhat serious about what they're doing.


@zuiquan: Thanks. I know what certification means. I didn't mean to make a blanket statement about all certifications as I figured the context of personal training was assumed.


@first2summit: Actually I think you did mean to make a blanket statement. I merely pointed out where your logic failed.


@zuiquan: Sorry if I hurt your feelings but no. The only failing is you thinking I did like you not understanding the context of a discussion. And might you be a little defensive about your online certifications for some reason...along the lines of "The lady doth protest too much, methinks."

FWIW, the reference to groupon for personal training was to illustrate how meaningless a personal training cert is.


@first2summit: I don't understand why a discount on the cost of something means that it is worthless. As a veteran I am routinely given discounts on things. Just because a company wants to offer a discount on a service does not mean that said service is now worthless. I didn't address that part of your statement because I considered it moot. I merely addressed the online aspect because it seemed that maybe you didn't understand that you can learn things online or from a distance as you used "online education" as an example of how a certification would be worth very little. I merely attempted to educate you on this issue as you seemed a bit misguided or maybe ignorant. That is all. And I can assure you that my feelings have, in no way, been negatively impacted by anything you have said. Apology completely unnecessary.


@zuiquan: Thanks. I'm not uninformed about an online education. I know people who have gotten an online cert and others working on their masters online so your assumption on my ignorance is inaccurate.

BTW - and a discount offered to veterans for their service is far from a groupon. You don't offer and take a 75% cut unless you need to, i.e. deals are usually half and Groupon takes half of the cost of the groupon leaving the merchant with 25% of the retail.


From my own experiences, I learned that a bad trainer is worse than having no trainer. I've had training sessions as introductory features in the past, and what I found is that they cookie-cutter you into a routine and don't pay attention to you as an individual. I accidentally found one trainer in a small gym who gave me the best advice. So let me start from this. This trainer stressed his credentials and experience. He told me that the way to know if I'm working with a good trainer is to discuss their background, and find out what types of fitness programs they work, and if they cater their programs for the individual's own progress. Do they pattern the routine based on success of the individual or the success of others? You want a trainer who will train you. You won't be able to do all the routines and machines at the beginning. You have to prioritize and develop training goals. Find a trainer who knows what this means, you you've probably got a very good one. Good luck.


@smtatertot13 True congratulations on continuing to work toward your goals and being willing to try new things to get the results you want! My experiences with trainers is as follows:

- I've found college-educated trainers (with degrees in Exercise Science, etc) to be more able to tailor programs to my goals, and have provided more variety in the workouts. That helps me to keep coming back, and I have seen excellent results. This is not to discount other types of certification; this is simply my experience.

- One of the most important things for me is to have a trainer whose approach works for me and with whom I get along. For example, I don't like to be yelled at. That doesn't motivate me. So if I ended up with a trainer that yelled at me, I'd ask for another one. Though I am at the gym to kick (my own) butt, I still want it to be fun. I want a trainer with a sense of humor.

- Don't be afraid to stop an exercise if it hurts. Just because they know a lot doesn't mean they know you.



Especially if you're just getting started, it's ok to tell them you want to start slowly, or just focus on what's comfortable, etc.

- Don't forget to tell them if you have any injuries or trouble spots. I have a wonky back, so my trainer frequently asks if an exercise is "ok" for my back, or we avoid some altogether.

- Have fun! And again, kudos to you!



Thanks to everyone who answered thoughtfully! I appreciate your time and input - and look forward to putting it all to good use!