Peter Hirsh is a nationally certified personal trainer and kettlebell instructor who has been teaching and training with kettlebells for over ten years. Peter has dedicated his life to the enrichment and well being of others and currently teaches classes and trains students one on one in San Diego, California. Wanting to reach a larger number of people with his teachings, Peter started Kettlebell Movement, a website dedicated to maintaining the authentic teachings of kettlebell training and promoting a simple and effective holistic lifestyle anyone can follow. Kettlebell Movement posts free weekly kettlebell workout videos. You can also find Peter on Facebook, Youtube, Twitter, and Instagram.
In my experience, many of the clients that have hired me as a personal trainer had very little understanding just what I did until the first session. I have been hired by people to help them learn how to use gym equipment and to help lose that last ten pounds that their existing workout wasn’t doing for them. Almost every one of my long term and most dedicated clients came to me thinking they would train with me for five or ten sessions but kept training because of benefits they had never considered. While the client may be completely unaware of this, a good trainer will assess your strengths, weaknesses and your posture and listen to your dreams and goals before making a plan based specifically on that unique data. The analysis will continue as they progress you to becoming healthier, stronger and less injury prone while coaching you on a healthy lifestyle. In some cases, a trainer might even help you realize a dream that you had never considered. Most people are in search for a personal trainer to help them lose weight. However, many don’t realize that even more importantly they need to find somebody who can help them become the strongest, healthiest and most vital version of themselves in the progress. Here are some steps to take when hiring a personal trainer:
If you are able, observe the trainer working with other clients before you approach them for their help. In some gyms, you may be able to scout out a few different trainers and see if one seems more appropriate for your needs.
If you cannot observe them training other clients because they train in a private studio or come to your home, they probably have a website with lots of information about their training methods. This information can give you tons of insight into the unique philosophy that guides their training. You can then ask them if they will set up a consultation with you. Almost every trainer I know will do this for no charge.
When watching a trainer, or during a consultation:
Watch for the basics; texting, chatting with other gym users or trainers while with a client. If they don’t look the part because they are out of shape or low on vitality or lacking enthusiasm for what they are teaching, that’s a red flag. I also recommend avoidance of trainers that are over enthusiastic about selling you their brand of supplements. Generally, most people don’t need performance enhancing supplements.
- Before engaging in any strenuous activity, a good trainer will perform an assessment of your posture, both standing and while moving. Assessment of your posture, strengths and weaknesses should be a constant part of your training.
- Ask yourself if they are giving you what you want, or what you need, if your posture is out of alignment and you are doing exercises that don’t solve your specific issues, you won’t be able to progress your training safely. If your goal is weightloss and they are using seated machine based exercises, you won’t achieve your goal very quickly.
- Is the trainer overtraining? The gym isn’t a place to lose significant amounts of weight, that is what the kitchen is for. If a trainer is just trying to push you until you can’t move properly, the chances are they are training you with their ego instead of your dreams in mind.
Are they under training? It is equally common to see trainers err on the side of caution far too much and their clients won’t see results, I have personally seen trainers do this countless times by only having people do light reps on a machine out of fear of hurting them when really the machine is doing them more harm than good
Group classes can be fun because they offer huge variation in your workouts as well as motivation from all of the fellow participants sharing in your pain or joy. The compromise is that the instructor generally has to stick to workouts designed for just about anyone. If you have tricky alignment in your ankle that makes your right knee hurt the instructor of a group class is usually powerless to help. On the other hand, the ambiguity of the workout will also prevent you from eventually progressing and will hold you back until you find something more personalized. If you are thinking about taking a group class:
Remember, You take on a much greater degree of responsibility for injury prevention than your instructor, especially when compared to one on one training, so you must constantly use good judgement.
Ask the instructor if they teach one on one sessions to give you the chance to make sure you are doing everything properly.
Working with a personal trainer or taking group classes is a great way to stick to your fitness goals and maintain motivation. However, after being in the industry for over fifteen years I can’t stress enough how important it is to really pay attention to what you are being taught and make sure you are working towards an overall goal of health rather than just weight loss. Weight loss is a bi product of health and killing yourself in the gym every day won’t solve all your problems. There are many methodical steps in between that also need to be considered such as diet and stress. Your workouts are only one of those steps and even then need to have a method and plan attached to them to really see results and long term success.