Tools to help you feel confident and prepared to start working with a personal trainer.
Starting out with a fitness coach can certainly feel intimidating at first, especially if you’re new to exercise. But by gaining a little clarity into the process, you’ll see that this new adventure is one that is full of growth, support, and empowerment.
If you’ve scheduled your first session with a personal trainer, or you’re considering training but don’t know where to begin, read on for everything you need to know about the different types of training, what to expect from your first appointment, and what questions to ask your trainer to set yourself up for success.
First things, first: your consultation
Before you get started with a fitness studio or coach, the first step is often to book in for your initial consultation. Expect this first experience to be similar to a casual, two-way interview, where the goal is for both parties to see if the partnership is going to be a good fit.
This meeting is a great opportunity for the coach to clarify what you’re looking for and how they can support you, and for you to inquire about their style of training and experience with clients similar to you.
Throughout the conversation, you will likely go over some pertinent information, including:
- What you’re looking to achieve through exercise
- What’s worked and not worked for you in the past
- What your health history is like
- An introduction to their service options
- A review of the coach-client services agreement
If everything feels like a good match, you’ll book your first workout session and be ready to get started.
Your first training session
Your first appointment with your trainer will likely be different from your future visits. The goal of the initial session is for your coach to get to know you and assess your movements so they can gain a clear idea of how to proceed with your programming.
Future sessions will be more focused on educating you on your body, teaching technique through your personalized program, and challenging you to progress toward your goals, but for now it’s about creating a baseline.
During this first session, your coach may put you through a variety of assessments, which often include:
- Postural screens
- Mobility assessments
- Girth measurements
- Movement screens
Once your coach gains insight into each of these areas, they can start to build your personalized action plan – the path that will help you move from where you are today to where you want to be in the future.
Session length and scheduling
Depending on a couple things (including your motivation to exercise on your own, your budget and your availability), your training sessions can be anywhere from 30 to 60 minutes and will typically run at a frequency of 1, 2 or 3 times a week. Consistency is key, so it’s important to factor in how much support you feel you need when deciding which of these scheduling options is right for you.
While you may want to know how long it’s going to take to reach your goals, there’s no simple answer. It’s very individualized.
The focus of your workouts
Fitness coaches have training in a variety of methods that can help you build strength, improve joint function and increase cardiovascular tolerance. The methods that will be the most beneficial to you will depend on what your goals are and in which areas your body needs support. Finding out what combination your trainer is planning to use with you can give you a better idea of how your sessions will run.
Typical methods include:
- Strength training: Focuses on developing stronger muscles to improve the integrity of your body.
- Endurance training: Focuses on increasing the length of time you’re able to use your muscles for posture and injury reduction.
- Mobility training: Focuses on improving the active range of motion in your joints.
- Flexibility training: Focuses on enhancing the ability of your muscles to stretch beyond their resting length.
- Hypertrophy training: Focuses on building the size of your muscles.
- Cardiovascular training: Focuses on improving the ability of your heart, lungs and circulatory system to supply oxygen and nutrients to your working muscles.
What to ask your personal trainer
Throughout your workout, your coach will explain the focus of your program, where you should be feeling the exercises, and why each movement is beneficial to you specifically.
But don’t stop there. Use your sessions as an opportunity to ask your trainer questions about your body and provide feedback as to whether things are feeling too easy or too challenging.
Questions to ask during your workouts
- Where should I be feeling this exercise?
- What is the focus of this movement?
- Why is this exercise beneficial for me?
- Can we make this exercise harder/easier?
Is your coach right for you?
A big part of successful training is feeling comfortable with your coach, which may come over time. To determine if you’re receiving the best care from your trainer, we recommend asking yourself the following questions:
- Do they challenge me?
- Do they check in with me?
- Do they support and guide me to my goals?
- Do they help me learn about my body?
- Do they show acceptance and compassion?
If you answered “no” to any of these questions, it may be a good idea to speak with a contact at your studio to let them know how you’re feeling. By providing this feedback to your coach or studio, they are able to address these areas of concern and make changes that will offer you a higher level of service moving forward.
Related: 9 Signs of a Great Personal Trainer
If you’re ready to get started with personal training and want to test the waters before committing fully, try out our free trial week of online sessions: