As a personal trainer, many people tell me they feel confused and overloaded by the overabundance of information on health and fitness out there. When I first started working out, I wasn’t sure what to do either. As a result, I made mistakes and spun my wheels a bit at times. Slowly and steadily, I developed a system that allowed me to separate bad from good information and make informed decisions about which diet and exercise protocols to put time and effort towards. In this article, I’m going to explain how I decide who to take advice from, and how you can apply the same principles to your own learning and towards hiring a coach or personal trainer.
The first thing I look for is if the information is science-based. Science provides a systematic approach to finding the answers to questions, like if a certain diet causes cancer, or if a given exercise protocol is better than another for a specific goal. This is better than simply going off anecdote (e.g., When someone says “it worked for me.”) because good scientific experiments will hold all variables constant and just test for one. With anecdote, you can’t be sure if other variables are affecting the outcome. For instance, I’ve seen people start an exercise program, a diet, and a fat loss supplement simultaneously and attribute some portion or all of their results to the supplement. Although, their results could have been completely from their diet and exercise regimen.
Some red flags to watch out for are if the source relies heavily on anecdotal evidence. Wild claims that sound too good to be true are rarely founded in science. Even if they are, the evidence is usually taken way out of context. If something sounds way too good to be true, it probably is. Another red flag is if they expect you to believe them just because of who they are (e.g., a guru, celebrity, or someone in great shape) and can’t provide any references for their claims or methods. Those who try to discredit science as a good source of information or believe in conspiracy theories are also rarely credible.
When hiring a trainer or considering a source for information, look out for the previously mentioned red flags. Some good signs are if they cite sources or advocate a scientific approach.
Academia is not for everyone. There are plenty of intelligent people who do not have advanced degrees or PhDs. However, I mostly try to look for individuals who do have a high level of education. Many of the experts I get information from do have advanced degrees and PhDs in related fields. Anyone can read a study and draw a conclusion from it. However, if that conclusion is logically founded by someone with advanced knowledge and experience with practical application, it holds a lot more weight.
If you are thinking about hiring a trainer, they should definitely be certified by a reputable company. Ideally with multiple certifications and with specializations in areas that are relevant to your goals. Having a college degree in a related field is also fantastic.
There are some things that come from personal experience that are not covered in any book, article, or seminar. When seeking knowledge or guidance on health and fitness, look for someone who walks the walk in addition to talking the talk. There are things that I would not know about fat loss if I didn’t lose 30 pounds myself. So I suggest looking for someone that has achieved goals similar to yours.
It’s also important to have experience working with other people. Results should be replicated in others. A source might have found what works well for them and been able to apply it successfully to their own lifestyle, but being able to coach others through it can be a whole different story. When seeking guidance, look for people or companies that can point to real results from people that have followed their methods.
Everyone is different. So, it is important that people offering exercise and nutrition information or guidance customize their programming to the individual. In the case of an article, look for insight from the author on how you might fit the advice to your situation. If you’re hiring a trainer, they should ask you a lot of questions before designing your program. If they are just giving you the same workout they give everyone or going by the seat of their pants, you are probably not getting the best workouts for you and your goals.
Finally, look for someone who you think is genuine and cares. What truly makes a great trainer is whether or not they care about their clients. If you are just a number, a dollar sign, or a job to the person you are seeking health and fitness guidance from, you may not be receiving the best service. Look for practitioners who are really trying to help and not just trying to make a buck. If they are selling something or have bias, they should be upfront about it. It’s also important that you connect with and trust your trainer. If you’re spending 2-3 hours a week with someone, it’s important to like them.
A good plan is to call and chat with a trainer (or a few). Before committing, try out a session or two with them. This will give you an idea of who they are, the approach they take, and what their training sessions will be like. It will also give you an opportunity to ask them any questions you might have. A good trainer will be happy to speak with you, offer a consultation, and answer any questions you may have.
There is an enormous amount of bad or out of context information on health and fitness. There are also a lot of excellent sources of information and practitioners in the fitness industry. As a result, it can be difficult to tell who to take health and fitness advice from or who to seek guidance from. Using the above methods will hopefully help you separate the fact from fiction and find useful methods to try. It should also help you seek reliable practitioners to receive guidance from. Not all trainers will have every single one of these attributes, and that’s okay. When seeking a trainer, look for one who has the qualities that are most important to you. Most of all, one you connect with and feel genuinely wants to help you achieve your goals. http://www.chrisprotein.com/