So you finally decided to hire a personal trainer.
Congrats! Here’s a little idea of what to expect in you first personal training session, and a little insight into what’s really going on in a trainer’s mind. (Or should be at least.)
Wondering how it’s going to go down? Have you ever been on a blind date? It’s kinda like that, but much much less likely you are going to get laid. But it is a time of discovery for both of you. After all, if we are going to be sharing the same air and we may be physically touching you, so we both need to find out what our comfort level together is.
As a trainer when I’m meeting a client for the first time I’m always a little nervous, talk a little too fast, but mostly I’m trying to really assess what you actually need as well and determine if your goals are realistic, and as trying to figure out a way to do both.
A lot depends on how you got connected in the first place. If it’s a referral from a close friend of yours, then it’s much easier to just relax and listen because you have an idea of who that trainer already is. Your friend has a relationship with the trainer already so there is a trust already established, and you have likely heard all the good stuff they can do and even seen the results in your friend.
If you are connected through a gym then you only the information the sales manager gave you, and you have to decide if you will take them on their word or draw your own conclusions.
If you met thru the trainers’ website or thru an app, then you only have as much information as you had available at the time.
So like all first dates, it starts off slow… If the trainer wants to move you into the sweaty parts right away, and that’s not what you had in mind, you are going to feel a little uncomfortable.
Every trainer has a different way of starting out, but when I have a cold client, (one from an outside source) I usually offer a free consultation, or at the very least a phone call before we actually get to the workout part. I need to meet you to know what it is that you actually need. Trainers may have an intake protocol that includes general health and diet questionnaire, that covers any health or injury concerns that we have to take into account. As well as finding out why you are there, what are your goals, why are you seeking a personal trainer?
Depending on your goals, trainers may do measurements, body fat analysis, gait analysis and probably some movement screens to see how your body is moving and functioning.
We will discuss the business part. How do you want this to work? Once a week, twice a week? How we are structuring our sessions? How you are paying? Different package offerings etc.
So first workout- Any trainer worth their salt won’t be giving you the toughest workout of your life just after they meet you. That’s a recipe for disaster. The worst thing that could ever happen to me is for a client to get injured on my watch. Do no harm should be foremost in a trainer’s mind.
I’m not gonna lie, we are judging you.
I don’t mean that in a negative way but as a trainer we want you to get the most out of our time together; our reputation depends on it. We are not just assessing your physical state, but your emotional one as well.
First workouts like first dates usually progress with a little sharing and testing boundaries. After my initial assessment I will have an idea of what you will need to get to your goals, but we have to take you out for a spin to see how things work. Giving you the hardest workout of your life might be what you say you want, but if you can’t walk for 5 days after, it’s just going to impede our progress.
Personally I like to go through all the movements I had initially anticipated for your training moving forward. The weights will be lighter and I will be studying you intensely for your reactions to the challenges I give you. The best plan on paper can fall apart quickly if you aren’t yet up to the challenges your trainer had initially laid out. From there I can figure out how to micro-progress exercises to get you the best results while avoiding any injuries.
While you are executing the movements we prescribed, we are looking for imbalances in your body, what’s working and what isn’t. Most clients aren’t aware they have certain postures, or move a certain way. We shouldn’t be putting a load on a body if it can’t safely stabilize it, that’s how people get injured. Not everyone can or should be doing the same workout. So don’t be comparing yourself to others.
Not everyone can or should be doing the same workout. So don’t be comparing yourself to others.
We are also considering your emotional state, how present are you? Can you focus? Are you actually understanding the exercise? How can we cue you better to explain what movement we want you to do safely? How do you take in information, what’s your retention like?
About half way thru the first workout I generally have a sense of how you need to be lead. Do you need more encouragement, do you need things explained in a different way, do you perform better if I demonstrate or can you pick up cues from watching yourself in the mirror? How much rest do you need? In a sense, what makes you tic?
Really great personal trainers have a great source of empathy. We are all emotional beings. There are lots of reasons people seek out personal trainers. I mean, reasons you maybe haven’t even identified to yourself. We understand the unspoken cues clients give us. You might say “I just need to lose weight” but maybe what you really are seeking is friend, to feel confident, or to feel supported. If I meet a client in a negative state of mind I think, what can I do to change that so that you leave feeling better after your workout?
I know it sounds a little courtesan-ish, but when a trainer gets a sense of what type of person you are on that day, we can tailor the workouts to get the most out of you. We become the person you need us to be for that hour.
I’m not saying it’s going to be a love fest the first day out, I mean, we only get 60 minutes to do all of that, and there is a whole lot of getting-to-know-you that has to happen to get you maximum results. Like any worthwhile relationship it takes a little time and a little work on both the client and the trainers behalf. As a client you will get the most out of your time if you are open and honest, present and available to do the work you’ve agreed to do in our capable hands. But if you don’t have all that on that specific day, that’s ok, with a great trainer, you will still get exactly what you need.