Your first session with a personal trainer should not leave you wrecked. Ever.
I’m beginning to realize why so many people are nervous before coming to see me. It can take people six months before deciding they want to train before they actually walk through our doors in the Oregon District. Why?
I can’t tell you how many times I’ve worked with clients who tell me that they did a session with a personal trainer that nearly killed them. There’s no excuse for this, and the only reason you should walk away from an initial personal training session feeling destroyed is a combination of ego and incompetence on the trainer’s part. Period.
Some personal trainers use detailed assessments like the Functional Movement Screen to determine what your strengths and weaknesses might be. Others take a no less serious approach toward assessment but are nevertheless not quite as regimented. Regardless, your very first session with a good trainer will be far less about making you work and far more about understanding where you are in your fitness journey.
I was that guy once. When I first started training in New York, my clients were smart, wealthy, and sometimes powerful people. They hired me and often tried to dictate what the session looked like–and I was insecure and stupid enough to go along. They had a preconceived notion of what hiring a trainer should look like and I obliged. The more I learned, the better I got, and the more secure I became, the more I wrestled control of the session away from the client.
That might sound strange to you. Shouldn’t the client dictate what the session looks like? Not at all. The client should dictate what her goals are, but then it’s up to me through experience and analysis to develop the right pathway to those goals. Clients think those pathways are built upon a foundation of ass-kicking workouts, when usually the answer is progressively overloaded multi-joint strength movements, thoughtful rest intervals, and sound nutrition. A good coach will push you just beyond your current capacity such that your body must change as a result, but not so far past your limit that you injure yourself, vomit, or can’t move for days.
It can be difficult as a consumer to determine who’s good and who’s not good. Web searches won’t necessarily tell you what you need to know about a trainer’s approach and experience. My advice? Use your social network. Ask friends who’ve hired trainers for their recommendation. Chances are if your friends received good, long-term results you might have a shot at it too.
The good news is if you hire well you’ll have nothing to be nervous about during that first session. And hopefully you’ll look back six months from now in amazement at how much harder you’re able to work than you were during that first workout. That’s the way strength and conditioning works: you get a little better each day.