Avoid costly mistakes at the gym

The gym can be an intimidating place, especially when just starting a fitness program. Many people end up guessing when it comes to the exercises they should and shouldn’t be doing, and end up with little to no real results for their efforts. If goals aren’t met, you might be contemplating hiring a personal trainer. To ensure that you are working with a qualified professional, there are things to be aware of, including:

Is the trainer certified by a nationally recognized accredited organization? Feel free to ask, and don’t feel shy about asking about years of experience as well. This is not to say that someone recently certified is not qualified, but you’ll want to make sure they know what they are doing before you sign up. There’s no harm in asking if they can provide you with an initial free session, which many trainers will have no problem with. This allows the greater possibility of making the right decision.

Have they had success with helping their clients reach their goals? Do they offer a consultation to assess your current fitness level and get pertinent information? Do they have client references willing to share their experience?

Hiring a personal trainer is a big investment of time and money. However, even when doing your best to make the right choice you might find yourself regretting it. The following are red flags and should alert you that something isn’t right. Think twice if your trainer:

Doesn’t adequately explain the exercise to be performed. Proper form, muscles being worked, how many repetitions and sets, speed of movement, etc. should all be a part of the conversation during your sessions. In addition, you should be asked for input about how you are doing, energy levels, and so on, and your trainer should intervene when necessary to make adjustments.

Your trainer steers the conversation toward non-exercise topics, and you find yourself going down a rabbit hole of chit-chat instead of working out. Establishing a rapport with your trainer is normal and natural, but if it turns into a gabfest you are the one losing out. A professional will pride themselves on providing you quality instruction and will avoid time-wasters.

You aren’t making progress. Assessing and re-assessing your progress should be a part of the package. This is accomplished by making note of things over time such as measurements, weight, dietary habits, amount of weight lifted, aerobic capacity and so on.

Uses their phone during your sessions. This one is a huge red flag and is totally unacceptable! Your trainer works for you, not the other way around, and it is their duty to focus on the job at hand at all times. It is simply impossible to place attention on you and the phone at the same time, and being distracted is a huge safety issue.

These are just a few tips to help you avoid costly mistakes. The bottom line is that you deserve and should expect a level of professionalism whenever working with a personal trainer.

Marjie Gilliam is an International Sports Sciences Master certified personal trainer and fitness consultant. She owns Custom Fitness Personal Training Services LLC. Send email to marjie@ohtrainer.com.

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