You may have heard or seen the phrase “new year, new me” floating around on various social media forms. New Year resolutions are a tradition that’s becoming a joke. People resolve to be better in various ways in the upcoming year. However, the plan to be better typically ends before the third week of January for different reasons including but not limited to: lack of will, lack of finances, lack of time, lack of results, lack of knowledge, lack of a plan, lack of guidance.
The most common, or apparently common, resolution involves health and fitness, whether it is “get into shape,” “get back in the gym more,” “eat better,” and the list continues. Like most other resolutions, it is also easily and commonly broken. Let’s address that now.
Every one of those lacks or excuses can be resolved by finding a good trainer. Please note that the word “good” is in bold print. In my relatively short time working the fitness world, I have already had the pleasure of working with different types of person trainers. Here are some simple guidelines to follow when choosing a trainer.
- Check their Credentials.
There are several big organizations that have high standards for their certified members. I am certified through the American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM). Other organizations include but are not limited to ACE, NCSA, and NASM. There are data bases on their websites where you can search for your trainer, although, not every trainer may choose to be searchable by non-certified members. However, the websites will have the scope of practice and description of each certification level. That will give you an idea of what the person into whom you looking into as a trainer can actually do for you. For example, ACSM certified Personal Trainers (CPT) and certified Exercise Physiologists (EP-C) are different in that the CPT works with healthy individuals and EP-C can work with healthy individuals or those with medically controlled diseases.
- Plan to Answer Questions
Once you have decided that the trainer you are meeting for the initial consult (which should be insisted upon by the trainer when you are setting up your first meeting), start planning on answering questions along the lines of the following:
How many days a week will you commit to exercise? This is not how many days you want to exercise or train; this is how many days you will train based on your work and family schedule.
What specific and realistic outcome would you like to see from this training? Saying things like “oh, I just want to be in better shape” or “I’d like to go from a size 18 to a size 2 by this wedding in 5 weeks” is not overly helpful for your trainer to create a program for you. Using clothing size is an awesome way for you to measure your progress. Telling your trainer that you want to get from a size 18 to a size 2 gives them an idea of what to plan. If you want to be able to lift or press a certain amount of weight for whatever reason, maybe work duties, have that in mind to tell your trainer.
What sort of exercise have you tried before and liked? What have you tried before and not liked? Do you love running but hate weights? Do you hate weights because you do not know how to use them properly? Do you despise running but are ok with biking or rowing? Trainers want to create a program that you will enjoy and want to continue.
What past injuries have you experienced that the trainer should know about before creating a program for you? Have you recently injured your back or your shoulder at work? With injuries, have your medical history – including medications – available at time of initial consult.
- Check your Finances before the Meeting
This might sound harsh, but it is necessary. Every trainer has different rates. Know going into the meeting how much you can spend on a weekly, monthly, and annually basis on training. If you have concerns, before signing anything, talk to the trainer. Ask about payment plans. Ask about meeting only once a week instead of two or three times a week if that will help you. Again, every trainer has their own way of handling this sort of situation.
- Realize a Few Key Things
The first of which includes rate of progress. You might and should feel as if you are stronger, faster, more confident after only a couple weeks of training. You might wonder why you feel so much better but the mirror does not confirm those feelings. Keep in mind that physical appearance, on average, does not start changing until around week 6 of committed training. What you feel is likely a neuro response to the training. The brain is processing the movements faster and signaling to the muscles which are reacting faster and stronger than before you started increasing activity and exercise time.
The next big realization: it is not the sole responsibility of the trainer to get you to your goal. The trainer guides you and provides accountability, but you are the one who determines how much effort you put into yourself. If you work half-heartedly, you are only hurting you. You will probably also be frustrating your trainer who wants to see you succeed. Are you making you a priority?
Make yourself – your health – a priority in the upcoming year.