How to Choose Your Trainer in a World of Instagram “Stars”

Do you have fitness goals you’re wanting to accomplish? Losing weight? Gaining muscle or strength? Maybe preparing for a marathon or obstacle course event (like a Spartan Race or Tough Mudder)?

If so, you’re probably following a handful of people on social media who are prominent in the fitness industry. There are millions of people who can provide you with inspiration for your fitness journey based on personal or client experiences. But here’s the problem: with so many people posting “fitgrams” and “fitspo”, how can you know who to trust if you’re trying to pick a trainer to help you with your personal goals?

These days, people are claiming left and right that they are “fitness models” and “fitness professionals”. So what is the truth? Who can both safely and effectively guide you when you are new to working out or trying to find a way to break out of a rut?

I’ll say up front that I will not directly call out anyone in this post for their training techniques or chosen style of coaching/motivating clients. And no, this article is not me attempting to sabotage my fellow fitness professionals. If you take anything away from this, I hope you will feel confident in the person you have entrusted with your fitness journey.

When you’re looking for guidance, there are many places you can turn to: your local gym’s personal trainers, a social media fitness influencer, classic textbooks (which are obviously less interactive), or global fitness companies. Here is my best advice of how to navigate the growing world of fitness and those who provide training to others:

-If you see a free workout (or workout clip) on social media, look carefully at the way the person is demonstrating and coaching. Is he/she using proper form? Is it a workout (with sets and reps) that are consistent with the goals that you have? Be sure to do some prior research– from reputable sources– on the recommendations for people with your goals.

-Don’t just assume that the people with the most followers or the best bodies are the most trustworthy. What is that person’s background? Are they a certified fitness professional? Most trainers will have a bio or “about me” section on their website, which will explain their qualifications to coach you. And if they are certified, make sure their degree or certification comes from a respected university or internationally recognized organization, such as NASM, ACSM, NSCA, etc. (yes, there are other reputable ones as well).

-Closely examine the way that the fitness professional chooses to coach his or her clients. Are the workouts personalized? Is it a general program for people with a particular goal? Sometimes a trainer will offer both, and it’s important for you to decide if you need something built specifically for you or if you want to follow a program that you can do with other friends and people around the world.

-Decide if you need nutritional coaching. Often times, people need to tackle their eating habits as much as they need to transform their workout programs. However, many of the trainers offering “meal coaching” or “meal guides” do not have the necessary certification to provide this information. If someone does not have a certification or degree in nutrition, they are unable to legally provide more than general nutrition guidelines. Proceed with caution if the trainer does not have a nutritional certification or has not consulted with a professional who does before providing this information to clients.

-Finally, find someone who inspires you. Does the trainer make you feel better about yourself? Or do you find yourself feeling down because of the coaching style and message the trainer promotes? Your trainer should make you feel good about your journey– although they should be pushing and challenging you too. The best trainers inspire you to be better and don’t promote negative self-image. Find someone who can inspire you to be the best version of yourself every possible day.

These are the best things to consider when you need to make a decision about your fitness future. And whether you decide to use me as your trainer or this article inspired you to find a different fitness professional, do what is best for you and you will be successful!

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