A Guide to Choosing a Personal Trainer for Older Adults and Seniors

A Personal Trainer Guide for Older Adults and Seniors

by Cole Matthews - Last Updated December 28, 2018

So, you’ve decided to join a gym. Well done – a regular resistance exercise program has been proven to be one of the best things you can do to enhance your health as you get older. But it can also be quite daunting, mainly if you’re not used to the gym scene.

A personal trainer may be the key to success with your new workout program. In this article, we’ll examine the benefits of taking on a personal trainer. We’ll also provide you with a detailed checklist to allow you to choose the best trainer to help you achieve your goals. 

The Benefits of a Personal Trainer for Older Adults

Guidance

Gyms can be intimidating places for those who are not used to them. You suddenly find yourself surrounded by a roomful of buff bodies, all who seem to know exactly what they’re doing. You, of course, don’t have a clue. But, when you’ve got a personal trainer standing alongside, you don’t need to worry. He or she will be able to guide you along so that you don’t waste time, do the right things in the correct order and don’t hurt yourself. 

Safety

A personal trainer will instruct you on how to do the exercises the right way from the beginning. This is an excellent advantage as too many people start doing an exercise the wrong way and then get stuck in a pattern of incorrect movement for years. This often evidences itself as chronic pain in the joints. A personal trainer will be able to help you to avoid all of that pain. 

 Being Accountable

Starting an exercise program is challenging for anyone. Developing the habit of regular workouts requires a great deal of discipline, especially if you are planning to had off to the gym early in the morning. That comfy, warm bed is pretty hard to get out of. 

In fact, lack of gym motivation is the reason that 60 percent of people who sign up to gyms give up within the first two months of signing up. This is where a personal trainer can be worth their weight in gold. Knowing that you’ve got a person waiting down the gym for you is a powerful motivator because it holds you accountable. Knowing that your credit card will be charged for the session, even if you stay in bed, is another powerful motivator!

A personal trainer will also keep you accountable nutritionally. They will expect you to be eating in harmony with your goals and may even require you to keep a record of what you’ve eaten. This can be enough to inspire you to eat clean. And if you slack off during your workout session, you’ll be held accountable for that also. 

Rehabilitation

Trying to do your own thing in the gym when you are recovering from an injury is not a smart move for anyone. For seniors, it is a grave mistake. Without the knowledge to guide you, you can easily make matters worse. This is another area where a personal trainer makes a lot of sense.

A personal trainer will have the expertise, knowledge and experience to guide you through the exercises that you need to strengthen the injured areas, increase mobility and get you back on track.

 Energy Booster

 The key to progress with an exercise program is progressive resistance. Simply put, if you don’t do a little more each workout than you did the last time, your body will have no reason to respond. It may involve lifting a slightly heavier weight, doing more repetitions or going through the workout faster. Whatever method you select, it will require you to attack the workout with a measure of energy that can be hard to muster.

 Everyone’s training energy fluctuates. Even the most enthusiastic of us sometimes struggle just to make it through the gym door. A personal trainer is being paid to provide the extra motivation you need to make every workout your best workout. Their job is also to match their motivational style to what works for you. After all, not all of us respond to an in your face sergeant dominant type approach. A good trainer will identify your motivational trigger and tap into them. 

 

Consistent Progress

Everyone experiences peaks and troughs in their training. There will be times when your progress will stall, and you will experience the dreaded training plateau. The only way to get beyond a training plateau is to change up your workouts. This will shock your body in renewed response. 

Knowing just how to do this effectively is probably going to be beyond you. But it will not be beyond the scope of a personal trainer. A good trainer will have a whole laundry list of methods to help you to blast through a training plateau.

Knowledge Base

Every other person you meet in the gym is likely to offer you advice on everything from how to properly perform squats to what vitamins to take to boost your training energy. That is not the sort of advice that you need to rely upon. 

A good personal trainer will be up to date in all of the latest when it comes to training, nutrition, recuperation and a raft of other exercise-related subjects. You can have confidence that he or she knows what they are talking about.

How Older Adults Should Choose a Personal Trainer

From the above, it’s pretty clear that investing in a personal trainer makes sense. You’ll be paying a little extra over and above your gym membership, but that investment will go a long way to helping you to achieve your fitness goals. But it will be that if you choose the right personal trainer. 

Nowadays it seems that every fifth person you meet is a personal trainer. With so many personal trainer courses lurking the internet, it’s hardly surprising. It’s no surprise, either that this proliferation has led to an oversupply of ‘cowboys’ who think that pumped up pecs and a six pack are all they need to start getting your money flowing directly into their bank account.

Like never before, then, the old maxim ‘caveat emptor’, or let the buyer beware, applies to shopping for a personal trainer. 

Here are three vital considerations, along with a dozen key questions to ensure that you team up with the perfect trainer to fit your goals, your personality and your budget.

Considerations

#1: Professionalism

Professionalism is extremely important in a personal trainer. While it is important to develop a rapport with the client, this should never be at the expense of professionalism.

#2: Knowledge

At a minimum, a personal trainer should have a good knowledge of human anatomy, physiology, biomechanics, and program design.  He or she must be certified from a credible institution. Good trainers will be continually up-skilling themselves. You want a trainer who has a passion and a desire to learn. Check that the personal trainer has trained people that have the same goals as you. And, make sure they have all-around knowledge, from the best diet for building muscle to How to Get Rid of Muscle Soreness.

#3: Personality

You are going to be spending some serious time with your trainer, so it pays to like him or her. If you have good chemistry with your trainer, then you are going to have a good session. If you like their communication style, then you will look forward to the sessions, which will make you far less likely to quit. 

Red Flags

You know what to look for now, so here’s what to avoid when finding a personal trainer.

No. 1: Talking on their mobile phone while training a client 

How much value for money is the client getting? How safe are they when the trainer’s attention is diverted elsewhere.

No.  2: An untidy or unclean uniform

If the trainer doesn’t give attention to their personal care and hygiene, how much attention are they going to provide you with? Remember the old adage; the way you do anything is the way you do everything. So, if he’s sloppy in the small things, he’ll probably be sloppy in the big stuff too. 

No.  3: Out of Shape

If the trainer is out of shape, what does that tell you about the success of their training system? Either it’s not very effective, or they don’t follow it. Neither is a good look. To be professional, you have to walk the talk. On the other hand, just because they have 20-inch biceps, doesn’t make them a good trainer.

No.  4: Working all hours

If a trainer is working from 6 am to 9 pm, how well are they going to be able to focus? Inevitably, the trainer is going to be constantly tired. That being the case, how well will they be planning your sessions? How much focus will they have when they’re delivering your sessions? 

No.  5: Give Carbon Copy Workouts

We all have different genetics, different postures, different goals, training ages, and backgrounds. That means that we all need individualized workout programs. Your doctor wouldn’t give the same prescription to every patient, and neither should a personal trainer.

No.  6: Generalized Nutritional Advice

Dietary advice needs to be just as tailored as your training regimen. Your trainer should be able to work out a detailed, specific eating plan that will meet your unique needs. 

No.  7: Rep Counters

You want more than a rep counter while you’re training. You need someone who is actually going to coach you on proper technique for each and every rep. 

No.  8: Not Interviewing You at the Outset

It is vital that you have an initial interview. This will, firstly, ensure that you are ready for change. Then they will determine your goals and your core values. Unless they do this, they will be unable to motivate you when the going gets tough, because they will not have discovered your emotional triggers. 

Key Questions

Here are a dozen questions that you need to be asking your potential personal trainer, along with the answers you want to hear. Any wishy-washy answers should make you think twice about trusting your body into the hands of this trainer. 

  1. Can I use a cell phone in the gym? No! This is your workout time; switch it off!
  2. How often do you work out? Minimum of 3 times per week.
  3. What kind of exercise do you do? Look for a passionate response that mixes aerobic and anaerobic exercise.
  4. What sort of diet do you follow? Look for a specific, rather than a vague, answer.
  5. What time do you go to bed and how much sleep do you get? Should be in bed by 10:30 and get 8 hours of sleep per night. 
  6. Do you smoke cigarettes? Absolutely not!
  7. How will you devise my exercise program and what prior assessments will you do? There should be some kind of biomechanical evaluation and a movement screen.
  8. Will you give me dietary advice or will you refer me to someone else for that information? A good trainer will at least give you one of those options. Remember you’re not after a one size fits all approach to nutrition.
  9. How regularly will I be getting assessed? You need regular assessments to make sure you’re on the right program.
  10. How frequently will my program be updated? Anything more than six weeks will see your results diminishing.
  11. What was the last course you attended, and when was that? A good trainer will have participated in a course in the previous 12 months.
  12. What techniques do you have to make sure that I’m going to stay motivated? The trainer should be able to talk about specific coaching tools that will keep you motivated throughout the program.

Conclusion

By following the guidelines suggested here, you will be in the best position to team up with a personal trainer who will get you to your goals faster. Remember, that you are giving this person authority over your most precious possession, your physical body – make sure they deserve that privilege!

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