Every week on Facebook someone posts seeking recommendations for a good local trainer. The responses are predictable. “Stacy Smith is da best! I absolutely LOVE her!” Or, “Go to Sizzle Boot Camp, they will kick your butt!” Occasionally, one of my fine students will recommend me and of course, that is nice to see. But let’s define what we mean by “trainer”, because this means different things to different people and it is a difference worth noting when hiring one.
The title of trainer is a misnomer in most cases. Most “trainers” don’t really train their clients, they just exercise them. Training is a specific, planned accumulation of adaptations that allow you to perform better in the physical game of your life. A competent trainer or coach will be well versed in programming, which means your sets, reps, exercises, volume, and density will be carefully titrated and changed to suit your sex, age, and level of adaptation. Real training has predictable outcomes.
Arbitrary rounds of exercise, as performed in every boot camp and 99% of fitness studios, is not training. It may look like training, but it isn’t. Exercising makes you hot, sore and sweaty, and no matter how much you feel the burn– it’s not training. Random workouts done without a plan can be fun, entertaining, and give you a sense of well being. But actual training will deliver more physical satisfaction.
If you are shopping for a trainer, ask this question before you hand over your money. “Are you going to train me, or exercise me?” This question alone will help you thin out the herd. Most “trainers” will not be able to answer this simple question. Hell, most won’t even know what you’re talking about. A good answer might be, “Yes, we will be training, not randomly doing burpees in a parking lot. I will create your program so that you enjoy markedly improved strength, mobility and body composition in the next 6-8 months. I will create a detailed training log so that you can also see your numbers improve on paper.”
Your choice of trainer can be as important as that of your doctor or surgeon. A good trainer will be intimately associated with your state of health and will focus on the most important and fundamental fitness attribute–strength. If the trainer you’re interviewing does a bunch of tricky stuff with bands, boxes and cables, keep looking. If the trainer boasts about the excitement of the exercises and running around cones in a field with others, keep looking. My program is hard, boring, and expensive–but it works exceptionally well. The fun comes from the outcome more than the process.
Best of luck in your quest for health and strength, and if I can help you find a competent trainer let me know.