Iron Lab Strength and Conditioning | Personal Training and Fitness in the West End, English Bay | Vancouver

That is a golden question which you have to ask yourself if you are considering hiring a fitness professional who will help you to transform and reach your fitness goals.

So where do you go?

Luckily for you (if you live in Vancouver) there are tons of personal trainers to choose from. You can search Google ask your friends or go to the nearest gym and try luck there?The problem starts how you chose a personal trainer perfectly matching YOU.

I remember when I was starting with personal training I went for an interview at a big chain gym downtown Vancouver. I looked at the board with head shots of personal trainers are smiling and shining their enthusiasm through. Below each picture was a little introduction stating their name and specialty.

What most Vancouver personal trainer bios look like

 Name: Joe Fit

Specialty: fat loss, muscle gain, sport specific training, functional training, rehabilitation

 Motto: I help you to achieve your fitness goals.

What’s wrong with this picture? Nothing if you are complete beginner or want some generic advice on getting fitter.  However, I’m a strong believer in specialization. How a personal trainer can be a specialist in all areas? He/she can’t. He/she may be good in most of them but exceptional probably in only one. I want to hire the one who is obsessed about his/her thing.

If I am a marathon runner I want to train with a trainer who runs too and can’t think any better way to spend his/her free time then researching the latest science on endurance training and perfecting assessing running bio mechanics. It’s the same as going to a walk in clinic and asking the doctor to perform a brain surgery. You would not do that right? I hope not.

Here are 5 steps that will help you to choose the best personal trainer for you:

1. Clarify your goal

Without knowing what you actually want, how can you chose a trainer? And what is even worse how do you know you accomplish those goals if you don’t even know what they are?  So if you want to lose few pounds look better in dress or suit, be more specific. Forget the pounds. Imagine how you will look and mainly how will you feel and what you’ll be doing? What will be your lifestyle? Will you be more active on holidays will be you active during the weekends, play tennis more then once a year, use your bike weekly, hike on the weekends etc…. Get excited about the possibility get excited what it COULD be. What will you DO when you achieve your goal?

2. Make time

Most of good trainers will help you to carve out time from your busy schedule to allocate to training, meal preparation, stretching and other health and fitness related activities, however you have to be the one doing your best to make it happen. I don’t know how many times I’ve heard from random people at the coffee shops or on transit “I need to get in shape but I don’t have the time, I’m so busy”. Yet the same people discuss in length the latest episode from tv show they watched last night.  If it’s important for you you’ll make the time. If it is not you’ll make excuse.

3. Ask your fit friends

Referrals are one of the most powerful and effective ways to find a great personal trainer. Ask friends or coworkers who are using personal trainers if they are happy with their trainer and if yes ask for their contact. The advantage is that you get “insider scoop” of what the trainer is like, his or her training style, personality, looks etc.

Just make sure she or he can help your particular goal and . If your friend’s personal trainer is a competitive bodybuilder and your friend is a young guy wanting to build muscle he/she is the perfect match. However if your goal is weight loss, while making sure your low back doesn’t flare up since you have chronic back issue, high blood pressure and bad knees make sure he or she doesn’t put you on the same “program” as your fellow coworker.

4. Interview your personal trainer

Because personal training is unregulated industry, almost anyone can call himself a personal trainer. You can get online certification without ever instructing another person, or you can spend 3 or more years at university. There many certifications out there, however in the end it’s not about the certification but all about skills, experience and passion of the individual.

The best way to find out more about your trainer is to ask questions. Here are few suggestions:

“How long have you been personal trainer? Is this your full time job? “(meaning Are you completely green coming and I’m your first client? Do you this as a side gig or are you a really full time professional? )There is nothing wrong with a trainer to work part time but the amount of experience is required to be a pretty good trainer is definitely in years not months of training.

 “What is your training and nutrition philosophy?” (meaning are you putting all clients on the same program or are you fan of one “thing”? ) Whether it’s Cross Fit, kettle bells or calisthenics good trainers don’t prescribes all clients the same thing. Box jumps and ring muscles ups are great for 25 year old former gymnast but prescribing it to 60 year old “desk jockey” with rounded back and bad knees would be pretty disastrous recipe….yet I’ve seen it. Your trainer’s philosophy should be to tailor your training program to your needs specifically.

“Do you have clients similar to me?” (meaning did you help in the past someone who has the same goals and same limitations and challenges?). It’s great if your trainer knows a lot about fat loss and most of his clients are 20-30 year old girls competing if bikini competitions but if you’re highly stressed sleep deficient, 50 year old female with very busy schedule you may not be able to comply with twice a day workouts and six meals per day in Tupperware.

 5. Follow your gut

Personal training is personal after all. If something is telling you this is not a good fit, follow you gut. You will hate your trainer and he or she may not enjoy sessions with you either.

Just be honest to yourself.Most of us know if we are being sold or served. There are so many “sales programs” out there teaching trainers how to sell emotionally, showing before and after images, testimonials and building up the “need” and then locking clients on the spot to 100+ session packages only if they buy right now.  Pay attention if a personal trainer is trying to sell you or trying to honestly help you. Is he really listening, asking you questions and is very concerned about every aspect of your life and how it affect the goals you’re going after.

There are some amazing folks out there who very good in helping others to be fitter, healthier and make a difference. I’m proud to call them friends and colleagues. However, finding them it’s like a finding a gold. You have to search and go through some dirt. So don’t settle for average and dig for gold.

 If you have any comments or questions, please don’t be shy share and ask away.