Health and fitness has become a billion dollar industry over the last decade. Knowing this, it’s safe to assume that some of you out there have invested in some form of coaching, service, or product with the hopes of it improving your health. But just like all other products and services, some options are just better than others.
But when it comes to fitness, specifically coaches or classes, how do you know if your investment will be worth it? Sure, online reviews can be helpful, but it’s extremely possible for trainers to get quality reviews simply because they’re likable people. While there’s absolutely nothing wrong with that (after all, enjoying spending time with your coach is a huge component to staying compliant and consistent), you probably wouldn’t go to a terrible doctor just because they’re nice to you. That’s a good way to end up with a Cialis prescription for your high cholesterol.
You’re paying for a service and your investment should reflect what you take away from your sessions. Are you reaching your goals? Learning something? Gaining strength, mobility, confidence? Put bluntly… are you getting your money’s worth or simply working out with a cheerleader?
Here are a few simple ways to ‘kick the tires’ on a trainer or service before handing over your hard earned cash-ola to them.
Show me what you’ve done for others.
Testimonials can be a quality indicator of the type of service you’re about to invest in. They are proof from former and current clients that, yes, investing in this service or coach will benefit you in some way because it did for others. While testimonials are along the same lines of online reviews, more often than not they can go a bit deeper than simply giving a 1-5 star rating. Testimonials can be more personal and dive into greater detail as to why a particular coach or trainer is going to benefit you.
It’s also pretty common for people to submit before and after photos for their testimonials as well, which can only add to the credibility of the coach or service in question. After all, a picture is worth a thousand words, so seeing physical proof of the type of results you can expect is a game changer.
Quality testimonials are likely to be proudly displayed by the coach or service in question, but if not, don’t be afraid to ask for some! Assuming they’ve got them, your coach should be more than eager to share testimonies that make him or her sound amazing.
If you ask and your potential coach stutters, stammers, and stalls… maybe keep shopping around.
Prove to me you’re not an idiot.
Look, your trainer or coach does not need to be able to recite chapters from Kinesiology textbooks or explain in vivid detail how the Krebs cycle affects your workouts, but they should be able to explain to you the basics of anatomy, exercise physiology, technique, nutrition, and everything else that goes into helping you reach your particular goals.
Certifications are solid way of making sure the person you’re working with knows their stuff. The gold standard certs are usually ones from the NSCA, ACSM, and NASM as these organizations usually have higher standards and prerequisites needed to even take the test for their certifications. If your coach has one of these, mark that down as a positive.
However, just be aware that even having a gold standard certification doesn’t always translate over to a quality coach. It simply proves that they are not a complete moron 🙂
On the flip side, be weary of other certifications that may have only taken a single weekend to obtain. Things like ‘Certified TRX instructor’ sound nice, but it’s basically the equivalent of having your accountant tell you they’re qualified to use Microsoft Excel.
Yeah…ok. I’d hope so, buddy!
Building off the last point, your trainer should be pretty proficient in the basics of exercise and probably nutrition as a bare minimum. But obviously you’d prefer them to know more than the basics, and a good test to prove this is to simply ask them… why?
Why do you have your clients goblet squat instead of using a barbell?
How is using the trap bar going to benefit me more than a conventional straight bar?
Are carbs evil?
Why is prioritizing sleep important?
Good coaches or services should be able to proficiently explain WHY they’re having you do something and WHY it will help you reach your goals. Asking your coach why they’re having you or a client do something only to have them respond with a dumbfounded “….uhhhhh well, you know….” is a huge red flag. “Uhhh well…” roughly translates to “I saw this on the internet and thought it looked cool”. Not only is that a crap reason, but you can also pay your 12 year old nephew to create an exercise routine with this method… and he’ll do it for way cheaper.
And while not necessarily a bad thing, also be skeptical of coaches and trainers who can’t explain things simply. If they’re constantly using complex terms like posterior mediastinum and retroverted acetabulum when speaking to you… are you really learning anything?
Being able to break down your questions in an easy to understand manner is a great sign that your coach knows his stuff.
Are you practicing what you’re preaching?
Take this point with a grain of salt as there are differing views amongst many people and coaches regarding this topic.
Your coach or people leading your classes should look the part. And look the part doesn’t mean bulging quads and a ripped six pack year round. But when you look at your potential coach, you should at least get the feeling of “Ok, they can walk the walk. They’re living what they’re teaching”.
Being ripped definitely does not automatically make someone a good coach. But if your coach is one bag of flaming hot Cheeto’s away from being overweight themselves, it’s quite possible that they might not be equipped to help you combat those same weight issues.
Now is this true for everyone? No, probably not. There are definitely quality coaches out there who don’t ‘look the part’, but can absolutely guide you to where you need to get to. If your coach doesn’t look the part, just be sure that they are proficient in the principles and methods that are needed to help you reach your specific goals… weight loss, athletic performance, mobility, etc.
Looking the part isn’t a requirement… but it sure as hell doesn’t hurt.