Raise your hand if you’ve ever felt abnormally uncomfortable while a large crowd invaded your personal space and sang you “Happy Birthday.” Sure, you might have felt slightly loved, or at least cared for. But the primary emotion? Suffocating anxiety.
I get that same feeling when I see that I’m the only one signed up for a group workout class. “Oh dear God,” I think to myself, desperately wracking my brain for excuses to get out of the awkward one-on-one scenario, silently dreading the next 55 minutes of exercise.
But when this does happen, I always, always end up getting a killer workout—and having an awesome time, to boot. Recently I got to work out with fitness superstar Amanda Kloots. I’d planned on bringing a friend, who bailed at the last minute, leaving me no choice but to have a *gulp* private session with Kloots. Thankfully, she is an amazing trainer who was able to tailor the workout exactly for me. She pushed me when I wanted to quit, gave me personal cues and corrections that really helped me feel that muscle burn (like, a lot), and actually talked to me like a real person, not just an anonymous client.
Of course, a lot of this is due to the fact that Amanda is an all-star, and anyone would be lucky to work with her one-on-one. But it proved to me that finding the right kind of personal trainer is so important for enjoying your workouts and seeing results—and everyone’s version of “right” varies.
If you can swing it financially, hiring a private trainer is one of the best ways to see physical results quickly. A certified pro will show you proper form as well as build personalized programming for you, which will keep you from getting injured. And most importantly, working with a trainer encourages accountability. When you know there’s someone waiting for you at the gym at 6 a.m., you’re way less likely to bail on your morning sweat session.
Sold on the idea of private training? Here’s how to find the right fitness pro to help you see results and have fun while getting fit.
How to find the perfect trainer
Know your personality
Every trainer has a different style. You likely already have a “fitness type,” so think about the classes you attend and teachers that you love sweating with. If you’re a big fan of the Barry’s Bootcamp no-nonsense attitude and love when the trainer screams so loud it looks like their eyeballs are going to explode, you probably won’t respond as well to a soft-spoken, quiet instructor. On the flip side, if getting yelled at makes you hella resentful (I will roll my eyes at you if you tell me I’m holding this plank to look better naked…) it would behoove you to find a trainer who can motivate you properly.
Clarify your fitness goals
In order for the trainer-client relationship to work, both of you need to be on the same page. Think of it this way: Most people hire personal trainers because they want to lose weight. If that’s not your goal (and we can think of 8391 better reasons to get serious about your personal fitness!), you should get clear on why you want to work privately with a professional and be able to articulate that sentiment. Maybe you’re working toward a particular athletic feat, like climbing Mount Kilimanjaro or finishing a triathlon; or perhaps you want to treat yourself to a private workout once a week as a form of self-care.
For example, when working with Amanda, I let her know that I was training for a marathon and had already done my cardio for the day. She was able to include some glute and hamstring exercises in our session that helped strengthen my hips—a key muscle group for distance runners.
Get personal recommendations from friends
So your BFF’s arms have been looking very toned lately—it’s not weird to ask who she’s been working with to get that definition! You’d do the same thing if she got an awesome haircut, right? If you’re getting a personal recommendation from a friend, they’re going to be 100 percent honest with you about how they feel about their trainer, revealing the good and the bad. That’s way more valuable than a Yelp review.
Reach out to your fitness community
If you already take classes at a few studios, ask the trainers you already work with who they might recommend. And maybe you’d really love to work with one of your Pilates instructors one-on-one, but are unsure if she does privates. Just ask! Trainers are always flattered to hear their clients appreciate them. If you’re a member of gym, often times they’ll include a free personal training session with your membership—you just need to ask to redeem the service.
Don’t just Google it
Please, oh please, don’t just Google “cheap private trainers.” Make sure you’re working with a certified, educated professional before you dish out hundreds of dollars for workout sessions.
Finally, you need to trust your gut. Maybe the fitness pro you thought you’d get along swimmingly with just doesn’t get your sense of humor, and you’re not vibing. That’s OK! Odds are pretty good that your trainer feels the disconnect, too. It’s better to cut your losses and let them know it’s not working, rather than trudge through the rest of your sessions together. Sometimes you need to kiss a few frogs in order to find your perfect match!