If you are looking to hire a trainer or a coach then you shouldn’t do so lightly. Realistically this should be a relationship that should last in years not weeks, so it isn’t something you should enter into lightly. You will become invested in the person regardless of how good or how bad they are because once you have decided upon somebody it will become difficult to reconcile your ego with the person you are working with not being very good. The general line of thought being I chose to work with this person if I admit that they are poor at what they do then that will reflect poorly on me. For other people dropping a trainer or coach isn’t so difficult as they view it more as a transaction than a relationship.
Regardless of how you are with people and how easy or difficult you find it breaking off an agreement or relationship you really should do your own research. You will not only be investing a reasonable sum of money you will be allowing someone to influence what you do with your most important possession of your health and your body.
1 – Know what you are looking for.
Before you go out looking for something it is pretty important to know what it is you are looking for. There wouldn’t be much point going out to buy a pair of shoes, ending up with a nice looking pair of platform shoes when what you needed for the job was a pair of wellington boots. This might sound like a pretty stupid analogy but for most people who hire a personal trainer or coach they know roughly what they want to “lose weight” or to “tone up/get fit” and they go to the personal trainer board in their gym and pick someone they like the look of.
The coach or trainer you chose to hire should be the best available in your price range, local and with the skill set that best matches up to your end goal. If you are wanting a trainer to help you with your sport you should hire a strength and conditioning coach, if you want someone to help with your powerlifting you should hire a powerlifting coach or if you are looking for someone to help you drop 4 dress sizes you should hire someone who specialises in weight loss.
2 – In-person training is better than online training.
Some people are in a position where they don’t have the availability, time or budget for in-person training in these use cases a good online coach is a hell of a lot better than going it alone. However, if you have a good coach or trainer near you who is in your price range and has the availability to work with you then this should be your first port of call. There are a lot more opportunities for feedback and adjustment when working with someone face to face especially if you are using someone to help you with your technique or to help push your training intensity.
3 – Try and find someone who is a coach first and an athlete second.
One of the best ways for someone who is training full time or more or less full time to monetize what they do is to offer coaching services. This is to not say that the person or athlete who is offering their services is going to be shit but it isn’t to say they are going to be any good either. There is a lot more that goes into coaching, training and the planning of training than having done some training yourself. There are a lot of considerations and thought that should go into the selection of interventions, the timing of those interventions and how they are applied to the person in the context of their training. Someone who has gotten strong themselves or good at something themselves knows how they did it. However, training others is not the same as training yourself. Often as well the people who have had to work harder than others to find progression in what they are doing are often the best experienced and the best at getting others better.
4 – Look for someone with a history of success with the people they work with
In the current online market, some of if not the most successful “coaches” or trainers are people who have tremendous success with themselves and people are like god damn I want to look like her/him. For most of these people to leverage their exposure and success, they sell templates and plans which is not coaching it is selling people an excel file, app or PDF. There is nothing wrong with this but if you are looking for a coach or a trainer this is not coaching it’s just a cookie-cutter item that they can leverage to make a good income if they have a big following. You are looking for coaches who post their client’s results and journeys on a regular basis or who’s website is all about the success of those they have worked with. After all, it’s you they are going to be working to try and get better not themselves.
5 – Have a look at their credentials once you are sure they are competent at what they do.
Degrees and learning aren’t essential when it comes to coaching or training of others as it is much more of a vocation than it is an academic pursuit but you really should be looking for someone who has invested in their own development. You will only be exposed to so much through your own experience of working with other people and it can be very easy to get caught up in your own little world where you are king and everything you know is good/the best way of doing things. A great coach will invest in their own learning and expose themselves to new ideas on a regular basis.
Whilst a degree, masters or even a phd isn’t a 100% guarantee that the person you are going to be working with is going to be any good but it is a pretty good signal that they take what they are doing seriously. It takes a lot of time (years) and money to finish a degree course.
I would pay zero attention to weekend courses (unless it is unique or exactly what you are looking for) the vast majority of powerlifting or weightlifting certificates are entry-level qualifications at best and pretty much zero sign if someone is going to be any good.
6 – Ask around about them before you contact them
Once you are sure you have identified someone who ticks the boxes for you then you should go ahead and contact the lifters, athletes or people they have worked with or are currently working with. Ideally, you should try and contact a mix of people who have worked with or are currently working with that person. This will give you a good balance of opinion on the coach or trainer. Someone who has stopped working with a coach will give you a good idea of what they are like when you aren’t working with you anymore some coaches/trainers are manipulative cunts and you should try and suss this out by talking to some people who they have parted ways with. Talking to the people who they used to work with will also give you some idea of some of the coaches’ downsides (not everyone is perfect and everyone will do somethings better than others).
Talking to people who they are currently working with will give you an idea of what it’s like to currently work with them. Coaches should develop over time (if they are any good) so they might have adapted or improved some downsides while improving as a coach.
7 – Talk to them before you hire them.
If you are going to work with an in-person coach you should try and do a one-off session with them or at the very least come and meet them for a chat before you start working with them. With an online coach ideally you should be able to catch up for a chat over the phone or at the very least a chat over email or IM so at the least you know you are actually dealing with someone and not just getting punted copy and pasted programs or templates.
8 – Give them a chance
If you have done your due diligence looking around for a coach/trainer then you should have a pretty good chance of not hiring a fucking arsehole or a dud. Therefore if you want to see some results you should absolutely.
- Do as is asked.
- Set goals that motivate you and are achievable
- Set a realistic timeline to achieve your goals
- Give them the time they need to bring about change
- Buy into what you are trying to achieve
- Discuss anything you are not sure about and make sure you are happy with what you are doing.