How to Pick the Right Trainer/Coach for You

So you decided you want to change your workout, nutrition, or lifestyle habits to live a healthier life? AWESOME!! However, there are SO many coaches and trainers out there. Do you get one in person locally, do you do virtual, or just online check-ins? How do you know this is THE COACH for you? Let’s talk about it. Here’s my input based on being in the health and wellness industry for over 5 years working with clients.

  1. Decide YOUR Goals

So I listed this first because, more than anything, you need to decide what you really want. Make it tangible. Do you want to lose 30 lbs for a wedding? Did your doctor tell you you have high cholesterol and need to make some lifestyle changes? Do you want to change your life or just add something to it? You can’t choose someone to help you if you aren’t really clear on what you want. So first things first, what do you want?

  1. How Much Support Do You Need

How much help are you going to need? Are you the type of person that someone gives you a blueprint and you can follow? Do you need weekly or even daily check-ins to make sure you are staying on top of the changes you need to make? Do you work better when someone tells you face to face what to do or will you follow directions from an email? Check yourself! Really think about how you work, the kind of accountability you need to make changes in your life, and does a group setting or one on one work better? Remember, there is no right or wrong answer. This is important to know because coaches work differently.

  1. Interview Multiple

I highly encourage you to interview multiple people. I know from being a personal trainer, I get deep with my clients. You want to like this person, get along, and LISTEN to them. It’s extremely important that you feel comfortable telling them honestly about your life and struggles. It’s a journey to make long-term or sometimes short-term health changes, so make sure you can get along with this person. 

Also, and just as important, make sure they have the knowledge to get you to your goals. Every coach has different specialties and experiences. If you have any sort of injuries or complications, make sure they know how to work around that. I will tell you from personal experience over the last 5 years as a trainer, working with many other trainers, and hiring/managing other trainers, experience makes a big difference. I was a terrible trainer for the first couple years. Did I hurt people? No. Did I help people in the most effective way? Definitely no. I see this across the board. Now is working with a newer trainer bad? Not necessarily, but it really depends on what you need. Newer coaches do tend to be less expensive, so that is a consideration as well. 

Lastly, in the interview, make sure you ask about their approaches to fitness/health. I know I have a very different style than many other personal trainers. Make sure the coaches’ style fits with what you are looking for and need. If you want a 3 month extreme plan to get you to an event, make sure they do that. Do you need help making lifestyle changes that you can implement forever, make sure they can do that.

  1. Personal Trainer vs Health Coach vs Nutritionist vs Others

So there’s a lot of terms out there. Let’s go through a few of the big ones and how they typically work.

Personal trainer– A personal trainer is specifically trained in how to create and implement fitness programs. This can include getting a degree in a field related to this (i.e. Exercise Science) or taking a short test online to get a certification.Some of the best are certified and have no other “formal” training, and so are some of the worst. The two biggest things that I look for when hiring trainers are how well do they communicate information and are they able to appropriately change programs based on the client. You can get this information usually from the interview process by asking their fitness philosophy or how they approach training. Most personal trainers do a free consultation of some sort, and this is a great place to get an idea of what they foresee your program looking like. Some personal trainers can do nutrition, but many can’t or shouldn’t. Find out their experience with nutrition. Do they write meal plans (my least favorite), work strictly around macros, or a more holistic approach?

Health Coach– This is a little bit more of a newer field. I’ve done pretty extensive research on many of the health coaching programs and know quite a few health coaches. Keep in mind, I am a personal trainer by trade, so I have a little bit of a biais, but for good reasons I think. From talking to many health coaches and researching these programs, health coaches are taught primarily how to coach people with a very broad range of knowledge of exercise, nutrition, and lifestyle. They do not dig deep into any one area and, therefore, their knowledge is pretty limited in many instances if this is their only certification. Many of them also tend to work only online, which I will get to later.

Registered Dietician and Nutritionists– Registered Dieticians (RD) are more clinical by nature. They have a degree in nutrition and also did supervised clinical hours (1,200 in most cases). From my personal experience, they can often give specific recommendations based on diagnosis. For example, for high cholesterol they have a standard diet that they put everyone one. In many cases, it can seem less individualized person to person, but very good if you have multiple diagnoses and many factors to take into consideration. Now, nutritionists is a very broad term and is regulated differently from state to state. Some states do not regulate hardly at all. If you are working with someone on nutrition who is not a RD, make sure to get more info about their education. Some common ones I know are Nutritional Therapy Association (NTA), Institute for Integrative Nutrition (IIN), and MindBody Institute. All of them have their strengths and weaknesses, so just ask some questions regarding their education and experience.

  1. In Person vs Online

Whether to go in person or virtual can be a tough decision. In today’s world, SO many coaches are virtual. Once again, I encourage you to figure out how you best work. Do you want to see someone in person, can you hold yourself accountable with just weekly emails from a coach, or do you want something in between? I will caution you, if you are looking for a personal trainer or someone to help you out with a workout routine, try to find someone who has experience training in person. I have looked at dozens of online programs and educational materials put out by personal trainers who have only ever done online work, and it is VERY apparent. There are numerous details that you learn after training people in person. If you feel a pain or something doesn’t feel right in a certain movement, I know from experience it is most likely from a couple things. I can do a couple quick tests and figure it out. Someone who doesn’t have that experience, will not be able to cue you or resolve those kinds of issues the same way.

  1. Multi-Level Marketing (MLM)

The last part is there are a lot of coaches right now who are backed by a multi-level marketing company (MLM). If someone is talking about a lot of supplements right off the bat, unless some sort of testing has been done, it should raise a red flag. There are countless of these companies out there with supplements that promise to get you healthier than ever (i.e. Arbonne, Shaklee, Shakeology, etc). I think using supplements here and there are fine (or once again if there has been testing done that shows specific deficiencies or issues that’s a different story), but using them as the PRIMARY way to reach your goals is not necessary. 

Hopefully, this gives you some great resources in how to choose the right coach for you! Think I might be a good fit for you? Click on WORK WITH ME, and let’s schedule a discovery call!

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