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Friday, May 22, 2015

7 Traits of a Top-Notch Trainer

Have you hired the best trainer?
“Just like everything else, coaches are a dime a dozen in LA,” my trainer friend lamented over guacamole, crudités, and tequila shots one recent Friday night.

I understood her frustration. Working in gyms for decades, I’ve watched vigilant, just-graduated personal trainers get burned out, overworked, get nudged out of their profession, and eventually abandon their would-be career. Disappointedly, I’ve also seen shoddy, barely-there coaches flourish.

That’s too bad, because as more people become determined to get in great health prioritize fitness (read: create the time and budget to do it regularly), we need smart, eager, enthusiastic personal trainers.

What helps some trainers stay the course while others eventually choose another profession, crash and burn, or otherwise jump ship when the going gets hard? I’ve pinpointed seven characteristics I almost always see in top-notch trainers.

If you’re studying to become a personal trainer or already work as one, you’ll want to
embody these traits. If you’re looking for one, these seven virtues will help you pinpoint a top-notch personal trainer.

1.      They value their services. Good trainers charge what they’re worth because they know undercutting their market will devalue their work. Giving people “a deal” will eventually land the wrong kind of clientele and trigger trainer burnout. Undercharging also means clients become more likely to blow off their workout. Who’s more likely to cancel last minute: The $100-an-hour client or the one who got a super-cheap package deal? “People commit with their wallets,” says my mentor JJ Virgin.
2.     They stay on top of their game. Top trainers consistently attend conferences, network like crazy (without sucking up), maintain certifications, keep up with the latest science, and read voraciously in their field. Like any field, fitness constantly evolves. If you don’t evolve with it, you withhold a valuable service to your clients. In this rapidly changing field, “old school” is no school.
3.     They remain completely present. Good trainers know sitting on a bench rather than actively participating, checking text messages, chatting needlessly with coworkers, and otherwise becoming distracted reflects poorly on their professionalism. Trainers expect clients to be 100 percent present and to give their all. The best ones demand the same of themselves.
4.     They find work – life balance. To a newbie trainer, 10-hour workdays might sound like nirvana. While I admire a strong work ethic, all work and no play will eventually burn out your adrenals and make you a caffeinated, neurotic wreck. Good trainers prioritize so they have down time. They give everything to their job, so they don’t hang out at the gym or take client calls when they aren’t on the job. They make down time family time even if that simply means a night out with the girls or a fun movie.
5.     They live what they preach. Optimal strength, fitness, and health don’t just occur at the gym. Good trainers get sufficient sleep, control stress levels, supplement smartly, don’t abuse caffeine or alcohol, and eat cleanly (at least most of the time): The same principles they demand in their clients. They expect consistency, focus, and hard work, not perfectionism.
6.     They maintain integrity. You become your reputation. If you’re notorious for showing up late, shortchanging clients, gossiping about your coworkers, or otherwise breaching work ethics, people will talk. You won’t survive at a top-tier gym. Good trainers treat personal training with dignity and raise the bar high so personal training remains a respected profession.
7.     They meticulously track. Good trainers stay on top of paperwork. While tedious and cumbersome, they know it becomes the mark of someone who goes the extra mile. They stay on top of initial intake forms – informed consent, medical history, lifestyle history, body composition, and other pertinent information – but meticulously follow up tracking for every session. They want to help clients, but they also know getting sloppy can backfire. In our litigious society, you never can predict if a chummy relationship goes sour or a gym accident triggers injury. They stay protected so a sloppy mistake doesn’t jeopardize their career.

Nobody’s perfect. We all drop the ball occasionally (sometimes literally!), but with these strategies personal trainers can raise our professional bar higher.

What one characteristic would you add to this list? Have you ever had a personal trainer who embodied any of these traits? Share your story below or on my Facebook page.


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Fitness expert and strength coach Jini Cicero, CSCS, teaches intermediate exercisers how to blast through plateaus to create incredible transformations. Are you ready to take your fitness to a whole new level?  Find out now!
© 2015 Jinifit, Inc.

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