The fitness industry isn’t an easy place to navigate as a prospective client. First of all EVERYONE is a personal trainer in Toronto. Okay fine not everyone, but almost everyone. If they aren’t a trainer now they have been or will be at some point… and I don’t blame them. In what other profession is it possible to take a weekend course (or not) and potentially earn over $100 per hour. The appeal of the profession as well as a complete lack of regulation has led to a saturated market with a low standard of practice. Some clients hire trainers based on the way they look, some hire based on a personal recommendation, some hire based on credentials, some hire based oninteractions they have with trainers at their local gym. As a prospective client here are 5 things to look for in a fitness professional.
Finding a Personal Trainer in Toronto
Education alone doesn’t qualify you as a great trainer, but it certainly helps. The first thing to know as a client is that there are at least a hundred ways to get certified as a personal trainer. Most of these certifications skim over anatomy, physiology and training questionable training principles in a single weekend. Some of them even certify trainers online (keep in mind how practical the profession in question is). A great trainer on the other hand has a solid foundation in anatomy, a good understanding of exercise physiology, a practical understanding of biomechanics, as well extensive knowledge of training principles. As you can imagine, these are all subjects that require years (not hours) of study to master. That being said, a single weekend cert just doesn’t cut it. Look for trainers with multiple certifications by respected certifying bodies such as the Poliquin Group, Darby Training Systems, and the National Strength & Conditioning Association. A University Education in a related field such as Kinesiology, Chiropractic, Physical Education, etc is a big plus but should still be supplemented with some specialized courses (that establish an understanding of training principles as well as sound teaching technique for weightlifting).
Some things just can’t be learnt in a book. One of the things that differentiates a good trainer from a great trainer is what the years have taught them. Knowledge becomes valuable once it has been assimilated, tested and evolved. Assuming a good base in terms of education, I personally categorize trainers as novices in their first 3 years, intermediates with 3-6 years experience and experts from that point on.
All trainers have areas of expertise. Some specialize in fat loss, hypertrophy (increasing muscle mass), strength training, performance, and rehabilitation. Some trainers are well versed in multiple categories but most, due to their educational background and/or experience have a particular niche. For this reason it’s crucial that you align yourself with someone who’s clientele is working towards similar goals. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve seen mismatched trainers and clients. Examples of this include the client who’s goal is purely to gain muscle who is matched with a trainer who specializes in rehabilitation, or the client who wants to drop body fat who is paired up with a trainer who specializes in Olympic Weightlifting.
The saying “attitude over aptitude” hold true in the fitness world as well. Spend enough time in a gym and you’ll see the most clear examples of this. Don’t be surprised to see trainers looking at their phones while their client butchers a complex weight training exercise in the background. A trainer with a good attitude is organized, professional, starts on time and is tuned into the session at all times. He assesses you before training you. He presents you with a clear plan to get you to your goals. He monitors your progress and makes necessary adjustments along the way. The best way to screen for this is by watching how your prospective trainer conducts himself around his clients.
A Good Fit
Speaking from experience, compatibility between you and your trainer is absolutely essential. The thing people struggle with the most with regards to their personal fitness, is actually getting to the gym. Having a trainer that you enjoy spending time with makes that 6am session that much easier to get up for. Many of my clients have trained with me for years at a frequency of 2-3 times per week… That’s a lot of time together… you better enjoy it. My advice is to really take the time to interview prospective trainers. I regularly meet new clients for a coffee before agreeing to take them on as clients. It’s my way of getting to know them and have them get to know me.
I hope this guide will make the PT industry a little easier to navigate as a client. For more information on our specialized PT programs for Men: ManTraining Personal Trainers in Toronto