1. Experience

One big misconception people have about the fitness industry is that if you have made yourself fit or strong that you can make someone else fit or strong too. In reality, it actually takes experience and practice working with other people to become better at helping other people move correctly in challenging circumstances and make meaningful changes to their routines and lives.

2. Professional Ability

There are four terms that come to mind when I think of what is expected by the general public from a fitness professional: coaching, training, motivating and for lack of a better word, cheerleading. While all of the above are helpful and desirable, it is only coaching and motivating that require real skill. Anyone can train and cheerlead. Let's explore these terms and the way they are being used here:

Coaching is the ability to effectively tell someone how to move a very specific way. It often involves a lot of corrective feedback initially in order to get the desired movement pattern

Training someone is having them do something over and over so they are more likely to do that thing.

To help differentiate between the two further, if someone tells you to do 20 squats, that is probably too many. But also, if they are not very specific about how you should squat, they are training you to do squats, but not coaching. If they explain exactly how they want you to squat and then teach you to do it that way, then they are coaching you on squats. The more specific they are, the better.

If they are able to effectively instruct you to increasingly align your movement to the specific movement they have in mind while you perform the exercise, they are able to coach and train simultaneously. This is an ideal combination.

Motivating someone is acting as an external stimulus to aid a person to act toward their goals in their day to day lives. This can be personal or general. In a personal training setting, they will know you and why exactly you are interested in improving your fitness. In a group setting, they may set up a challenge or competition.

Cheerleading is simply providing positive feedback for desired outcomes (effort, time invested, exercising will-power, hard work, improved performance, achieving a goal)

At the end of the day, there should be a good balance of all the above from your fitness professional. Training style, professional strengths, and personality will often determine how they are distributed, but everything should be present.

3. Progression

In order for you to get better (stronger, faster, more precise) the conditions need to be increasingly challenging to you. Your body adapts faster than you may realize and if someone isn't taking notes on what you can do, it may be that you're doing the same thing over and over. It is very easy to tell someone to do things that will get them out of breath and sweaty, it is probably not worth your money to pay for someone to simply keep you moving; they should be making you better at moving.

4. Client Promotion

Who or what a professional is promoting is usually a good indicator of their focus at work. Obviously, you need them to be focused on you for you to improve. Examine social media, pictures, websites, blogs posts, newsletters, and talk to them! Ask yourself if their thoughts, time, and effort are going toward helping and promoting other people. That is what you will expect from their services or products after all.

5. Personal Struggle

I recently heard a concept that rung true to me: the best coaches are the ones who struggled the most. If a person loses weight easily, is genetically attractive, and athletically gifted than they have less familiarity with the struggle it takes to control your weight and get yourself to the gym often. A professional who has struggled with nutrition or in their own fitness efforts to overcome barriers is going to be more likely to pass successful insider tips on to you, just by virtue of knowing them.

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Things to Think About When You Hire a Fitness Professional

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