Questions to ask a would-be trainer

  • Posted by a hidden member.
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    Dec 04, 2008 7:26 AM GMT
    Ryko and a few other people posted something around this in another thread, so I'll pose the question (and if there was an earlier thread on this I missed, feel free to link to it):

    What questions do you need to ask to a potential trainer? More importantly, what questions should you ask that you wouldn't think of asking?

    I'll leave this one open-ended - anything you can think of.
  • Posted by a hidden member.
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    Dec 04, 2008 7:33 AM GMT
    well first things first...

    Your goals on why you want to be trained. What do you want? muscle, fat loss, speed, etc.


    When I was going to personal training school my teacher said:

    "Aaron, not everyone wants to be buff, so you must know all this so you can train someone for what their goals are"
  • Posted by a hidden member.
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    Dec 04, 2008 10:12 AM GMT
    I think a would be trainer should know why they are doing it. Are they going to be a trainer to help people or just for the money. Both reasons are legitimate reasons. I think a lot of trainers tend to get lost between the two. I know it's hard to care when you get a bunch of clients who claim to be committed but when you put them through the process the truth is reviled and they end up bailing out on you.

    I think a would be trainer needs to understand what all is involved in being a trainer. It is so much more than just working out with clients. For some you have to be their best friend, priest, mother, lawyer... Clients will tell you their secrets, clients will lie to you, clients will take anything you say as the absolute and infallible truth. Well my trainer told me this so you should do it too... That doesn't even include all the liability issues, business licenses, merchant accounts, insurance on and on...
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    Dec 04, 2008 10:34 AM GMT
    Ask their clients, what they think of them, what they're strengths or weaknesses.

    If the guy trains clients in your gym you should be able to observe and get an idea of how they train and if there clients are making progress.

    What not to ask.

    bb.com/mens health or any other health and fitness magazine or site says the absolute best way to gain mass is to......why aren't you having me do it this way.

    If you're paying someone for their advice you should do just that and not criticize it.
  • tailgaytor

    Posts: 41

    Dec 04, 2008 3:37 PM GMT
    First off, make sure you get the most for your buck. My gym has specials on their training and that's when you should jump in and buy a package. Even then there might be room for negotiations on price if you drag you feet a little.

    You can let the facility chose your trainer or you can do as someone mentioned and observe. Mine was assigned to me because I signed up for a free evaluation of my workout routine, but I knew I didn't want one who did a lot of talking and or came unprepared. A good trainer will make sure your goals are measurable and attainable and will ask what expectations you have of him/her.

    I told my trainer that I had gotten lazy with my workouts and didn't sweat like I used to, so I wanted her to push me. She had a standard phrase that she used at the beginning of each session. "Are you ready for me to kick your ass?" And she did every time. After three sessions, she told me that she had watched some of my workouts and that she was going to switch her focused with me to plyometrics and core strength building. I am glad she did.
  • DiverScience

    Posts: 1426

    Dec 04, 2008 3:55 PM GMT
    Single biggest thing:

    Do they ask what your goals are? Do they then *listen?*

    Does the plan they give you seem to match up with those goals? If you've asked (for example) for training to get ready for ski season... are they still giving you a "brotard" chest heavy workout, or are they giving you a strong legworkout with lots of dynamic motions and a balance of explosive strength and stamina exercises?


    One of the easiest ways to tell if a trainer actually knows something is to see if they can design a tailored plan. If all of a trainer's clients: male/female, overweight/underweight, skiiers/shotputters, are doing the same workout, then that's not the trainer for you.
  • Posted by a hidden member.
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    Dec 04, 2008 7:40 PM GMT
    who are they certified by?
    do they have a full understanding of bio-mechanics?
    if they focus on core training and I don't mean crunches.
    do they use stable/seated environments? this is a no no !!
    leg machines?? that's also a no no !!
    are they fluid with the concept of functional training?
    do they know the difference between kyphotic and lordotic lifting?




  • Posted by a hidden member.
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    Dec 04, 2008 7:53 PM GMT
    I think that personality and training style has a lot to do with making a good match. Figure out whether you want a drill sargent or a cheerleader and ask them which they are.

    I think that Tailgaytor has some good suggestions on making the right match and your gym should offer this as a way of finding the right trainer.

    I wouldn't be so absolute on some things as RealMasc (no offense) as sometimes focusing on core training isn't what/where the client needs to be. Sometimes a stable/seated surface is required (i.e. back injuries, etc) and leg machines can have benefits and their own place in a specific workout.

    I have built very strong (pun only slightly intended) relationships with the majority of my clients and it is that level of trust that we have built together that allows me to push them to areas where they never thought they could go. I would say to you that it is very important that you feel that this trainer is someone that you can build that level of trust with.

    Hope this helps!!
  • Posted by a hidden member.
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    Dec 04, 2008 8:00 PM GMT
    Ask them to describe their clients.

    My experience is that trainers who have a lot of athletic clients that are looking to reach new heights will push you hard in workouts to your maximum ability.

    Trainers who have a lot of clients that are out of shape tend to have repetitive routines as they aren't accustomed to working with clients who have higher pain or endurance threshholds.

    Some trainers have a hard time adjusting their routines to different types of clients so I would go with the one who has a client base most similar to your athletic profile.
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    Dec 04, 2008 8:10 PM GMT
    Ask about their credentials/certifications and what they do to continue their education (a good trainer is always reading industry publications and attends seminars/workshops/conferences). In my opinion, the best certs are NASM, NSCA, ACE and ACSM. These are also accredited whereas many others are not.

    Ask about experience and what types of clients they've worked with in the past and if they have references or letters of recommendation from other clients.

    Most trainers tend to have a niche or a specialty. Make sure the specialty is in line with what you are interested in accomplishing.

    Ask whey they decided to enter the field. If the answers don't involve "passion for helping people" or something similar, move along. You want someone with a vested interest in helping you progress.

    Most people don't take the time to "interview" the trainer, which can be a costly mistake.

    I hope this helps.

  • EricLA

    Posts: 3461

    Dec 04, 2008 8:15 PM GMT
    RealMasc saidwho are they certified by?
    do they have a full understanding of bio-mechanics?
    if they focus on core training and I don't mean crunches.
    do they use stable/seated environments? this is a no no !!
    leg machines?? that's also a no no !!
    are they fluid with the concept of functional training?
    do they know the difference between kyphotic and lordotic lifting?


    Masc, totally agree that you should know who your trainer is certified by and whether they are a legit agency. Most gym club trainers are lacking in proper training. You get what you pay for.

    But, I had a couple of questions -- why are leg machines bad? I don't use them, but not clear why they're a no-no.

    And what IS the difference between kyphotic and lorotic lifting, and how do we know which we need.
  • EricLA

    Posts: 3461

    Dec 04, 2008 8:19 PM GMT
    Good advice above.

    I'd ask them to provide a way of contacting a couple of their clients for recommendations and find out what their experiences were.

    Find out from the trainer how they develop the training routine they're going to use on you. If you've already been working out, do they ask what your current routine is comprised of? Do they do an evaluation to see where you're at, or do they immediately start you off with a cookie-cutter routine they use for everyone.

    If you're using one just to set up a new program, you do want more than one session to ensure you're doing each exercise properly.
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    Dec 04, 2008 8:31 PM GMT
    Great tips all! Thanks!
  • DiverScience

    Posts: 1426

    Dec 04, 2008 9:32 PM GMT
    I'm going to weigh in in opposition to a couple commenters...

    I could give a shit who you're certified by. The truth is, it means nothing. Like college, the question isn't "who can I convince to give me a degree" it's "what did I get out of the program, or put into it?" There are idiots who went to Harvard and geniuses who went the local community college.

    And as for things like stable surfaces and core...

    I think honestly, that's a sign they suck. If they can't get past "no never stable" then they're not going to be able to build the *best* workout for someone. Some people need a stable surface to work against to prevent injury/reinjury. Sometimes you need to completely isolate a very weak muscle to strengthen it to the point it can be worked along with other muscles.

    If they insist on working your core no matter what, even if your stated goal doesn't require core training (uncommon, but not impossible, I know some people with great core routines who need help in the specialized stuff, for example), then they're sticking to rules and not looking at you as an individual.



    It all comes down to their ability to help you, specifically.
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    Dec 05, 2008 3:11 AM GMT
    trainerkp saidI think that personality and training style has a lot to do with making a good match. Figure out whether you want a drill sargent or a cheerleader and ask them which they are.

    I think that Tailgaytor has some good suggestions on making the right match and your gym should offer this as a way of finding the right trainer.

    I wouldn't be so absolute on some things as RealMasc (no offense) as sometimes focusing on core training isn't what/where the client needs to be. Sometimes a stable/seated surface is required (i.e. back injuries, etc) and leg machines can have benefits and their own place in a specific workout.

    I have built very strong (pun only slightly intended) relationships with the majority of my clients and it is that level of trust that we have built together that allows me to push them to areas where they never thought they could go. I would say to you that it is very important that you feel that this trainer is someone that you can build that level of trust with.

    Hope this helps!!


    no offense but if you're a trainer shame on you.
    the core is your center of gravity ..everything evolves around your core.
    putting a person with a back injury on a stable machine WILL NOT teach them how to function properly but yet it will confine and limit them. All you're doing is turning off their stabilizers.
    I work with people who have all kinds of back problems from scoliosis, spondylolysis, spondylolisthesis, herniated discs,bulging discs , degenrative discs and even a young girl with her L-4,L-5 and S-1 fused together. I even specialize in back training,,just passed Scientific Back Training course from the CHEK institute. Machines for the most part have no carry over into real life ,when will you need to be on your ass to push or pull weight ?? So if you have someone with a back injury , any good trainer knows that you go after the glutes and core first to make them stronger, mimicking real life situations not bodybuilding .

    Same thing for the leg machines...all you need to do is squat,lunge and deadlift..and yes all my back clients can perform them free of pain..even the girl with the fusion. These leg curls ,leg presses don't mimic anything that we do in real life..they have no carry over...well maybe a hamstring curl face down if you're getting raped and you need to kick him off LOL

    back to the drawing board.

  • Posted by a hidden member.
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    Dec 06, 2008 10:41 PM GMT

    no offense but if you're a trainer shame on you.
    the core is your center of gravity ..everything evolves around your core.
    putting a person with a back injury on a stable machine WILL NOT teach them how to function properly but yet it will confine and limit them. All you're doing is turning off their stabilizers.
    I work with people who have all kinds of back problems from scoliosis, spondylolysis, spondylolisthesis, herniated discs,bulging discs , degenrative discs and even a young girl with her L-4,L-5 and S-1 fused together. I even specialize in back training,,just passed Scientific Back Training course from the CHEK institute. Machines for the most part have no carry over into real life ,when will you need to be on your ass to push or pull weight ?? So if you have someone with a back injury , any good trainer knows that you go after the glutes and core first to make them stronger, mimicking real life situations not bodybuilding .

    Same thing for the leg machines...all you need to do is squat,lunge and deadlift..and yes all my back clients can perform them free of pain..even the girl with the fusion. These leg curls ,leg presses don't mimic anything that we do in real life..they have no carry over...well maybe a hamstring curl face down if you're getting raped and you need to kick him off LOL

    back to the drawing board.

    [/quote]

    I totally respect Paul Chek, and have studied his methods, but in my opinion he is too dogmatic and absolute...and a little judgmental and an asshole. Kudos to you on your success with special needs clients, as I have had equal success with equal needs. Thank goodness that science allows for open discussion and sharing of ideas through debate of different theories. Exercise Science is definitely a new science and new information comes to us everyday. Sometimes we don't have to mimic things that we do in everyday life to build strength within a motor unit, all-the-while benefiting from the strength.
  • Posted by a hidden member.
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    Dec 06, 2008 10:58 PM GMT
    ''totally respect'' and ''he's an asshole'' in the same sentence. LOL
    you never answered any of my questions and never backed up any of your claims.
    Sitting someone down on a machine will basically turn off their core. In order to reach any goal in the gym (hypertrophy,strength endurance, power, etc etc)one needs sufficient stability to back up the strength they're producing/generating. Otherwise one becomes a car without brakes.
    that's science and you should know that.

    Most stable machines for the most part aren't functional. Most of these machines if not all are in the sagital plane..what are you going to do to condition your clients in the frontal and transverse planes?? When they leave the gym after working out with you they will need to explore those planes in their everyday life.

    worddddddddddd lol

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    Dec 06, 2008 11:09 PM GMT
    DiverScience saidI'm going to weigh in in opposition to a couple commenters...

    I could give a shit who you're certified by. The truth is, it means nothing. Like college, the question isn't "who can I convince to give me a degree" it's "what did I get out of the program, or put into it?" There are idiots who went to Harvard and geniuses who went the local community college.



    Unlike Harvard and other places, you can't buy your way through a certification. Having a certification from specific organizations shows aptitude and comprehension of the basics. But as a I mention, certification is only the beginning. Just like college, many of the important lessons and techniques will be learned from experience, not a textbook. A certification from a respected agency shows at least a modicum of diligence and passion for the profession.
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    Dec 06, 2008 11:16 PM GMT
    Listen, I do like Chek...and I think his followers probably do him an injustice because they come across as assholes. This has been my experience. Just because someone disagrees with you doesn't make them the enemy. I also don't feel the need to dispute your claims. All I am suggesting is that there are no absolutes, e.g., bodybuilders would have great use of leg machines. Not everyone is working toward the same goals. Why discount a method completely? Kettlebells disappeared completely and now they are the popular choice of programming today.
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    Dec 06, 2008 11:33 PM GMT
    trainerkp saidListen, I do like Chek...and I think his followers probably do him an injustice because they come across as assholes. This has been my experience. Just because someone disagrees with you doesn't make them the enemy. I also don't feel the need to dispute your claims. All I am suggesting is that there are no absolutes, e.g., bodybuilders would have great use of leg machines. Not everyone is working toward the same goals. Why discount a method completely? Kettlebells disappeared completely and now they are the popular choice of programming today.


    first of all you're being sensitive,there's no enemy here..this is an open forum... i'm just backing up my claims..you come here and discredit them and I back em up...sticking to my guns....
    but yet you don't back yours up.
    regardless of what peoples goals are they need stability even bodybuilders!!
    otherwise you get these guys with really poor posture and small nervous systems with no longevity and a pile of unbalanced length tension relationships.

    you can't reach hypertropy with squats, lunges or deadlifts???

    a good trainer will tell you what you need not the other way around...and this is why the the fitness industry is run by clowns who give the clients what they want not what they need first.



  • Posted by a hidden member.
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    Dec 06, 2008 11:49 PM GMT
    You're right, I am being overly sensitive. You are right and I am wrong.
  • Posted by a hidden member.
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    Dec 06, 2008 11:52 PM GMT
    trainerkp saidYou're right, I am being overly sensitive. You are right and I am wrong.


    how about a hug ?