What Makes for a Great Trainer? Top 10 Traits of Great Trainers

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Sure, you can get great results from a self-guided workout plan but it might be time to consider a trainer.

Working with a trainer will not only exponentially increase your gains, but will also increase your confidence. Exercising isn't just a physical activity, it also impacts our mental health. So, working with a trainer will help to sculpt your body and your mind - allowing you to access a mindset that will transform your relationship to exercise and put you on a fast track to your fitness goals.

Choosing the right trainer is key, here are 10 traits that make a great trainer:

1. Effective communicator

Communication is key to any relationship. Effective communication is more than focusing on what you say. It's less about talking and more about listening. You and your trainer both need to be able to exchange ideas and thoughts freely. However, it is essential that they can "speak your language". 

They should know the right things to say to motivate you to finish a difficult set, to reward you after a hard day's work, and to walk you through stretching (which can be very painful). A great trainer will also be able to pick up on non-verbal communication cues and respond to those cues with the appropriate solution - it may be as small as a few words of motivation, or could mean tweaking your workout program. Communication is key.

2. Industry Expert

You're thinking about working with a trainer or have already started working with a trainer because you want to access services from a professional. Trainers should have completed a few certifications to practice; so they have the knowledge and skills to build a workout plan tailored to your needs, body type, energy level, and exercise goals.

This doesn't mean they'll know everything, but certainly enough to guide you along your fitness journey. Things like which muscle groups are being targeted with each workout, progress indicators, and regular check-ins should be included in your training plan. They should know what they're doing.

3. Attention to detail

Precision is the only way to go from good results to great results. Your trainer's attention to detail should be on point! Exercise will only provide the results you want if your form is correct. Great trainers will emphasize form over reps - if you're not doing the exercise correctly, it reduces the significance of the number of reps.

Your planks should be planking and crunches should be crunching.

This kind of attention to detail makes working out with a trainer that much more rewarding. Studies show that too little or too much exercise can be bad for your health, so it is your trainer's job to design a workout plan with an appropriate duration that will help - and not hurt - your mental health. Right form, right results.

4. Motivator

Pretty much 90% of a trainer's job is to tell you to keep going when you want to quit. So, their ability to motivate you is paramount. This goes beyond saying the right things in the moment, it is also about perhaps which songs to play or how to combine workouts to get the most from you. It means they are your biggest cheerleader and they're not setting you up for failure.

5. Flexible

In keeping with their ability to motivate is their ability to pivot when change is needed. There may be times when you start plateauing doing a particular exercise. This means you've gotten to a point where this particular exercise is no longer contributing to your exercise goals. There's no growth, no gains. A great trainer will realize this and switch you to a new plan or rotate certain exercises. While they are tasked with leading a structured workout plan, we are dynamic beings and your trainer should be open to modifying the plan as needed. The goal is set, but the plan should be flexible.

6. Good organizer

Organizational skills are essential for any trainer. This goes beyond set times to meet for workouts but also includes how to pace exercises and scheduling check-in sessions outside of regular workout hours. They should know what schedule works best for you and how to occasionally modify the schedule to increase your gains/ keep things interesting. Many people tend to get bored or plateau with certain exercises, so your trainer should be a scheduling expert.

7. Patient

Nobody was born knowing how to do a chest press, and chances are even if you're not a beginner you may need a refresher in the correct form. Your trainer should be patient. They need to allow time for you to get in the groove. It takes time to see progress and the biggest key to seeing results is consistency.

8. Strategic thinker

You've probably heard the saying "there are many ways to skin a cat", well there are many ways that you can achieve your fitness goals. Your trainer should be working with you to provide the best strategies to get you to your target. This will include flexibility and attention to detail, but your trainer should also be good at thinking on their feet. Given their knowledge and experience, they should be able to handle any unforeseen situations that may arise during workouts

9. Prioritizes overall wellness

Exercise is only one component of wellness and any trainer worth their weight in salt (maybe worth their weight in muscles instead, since too much sodium isn't good for you) will emphasize this. Whether they want to use the 80/20, 70/30, or 90/10 rule - your mental wellbeing is an essential component of your workout routine.

Exercising does improve mental health, however, your trainer should be actively promoting other elements of your wellness journey - not just physical activity.

10. Committed to the goal

You might be thinking "well, I am paying them to be committed to the goal", but this means a bit more than just an exchange of services. Their commitment should be palpable. Are they on time? Do they seem focused? Are they setting appropriate targets for you? They should provide you with the right tool, and design a workout program tailored for you and see you achieve your goals within a decided timeframe.

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If you're looking for a trainer and not sure where to start, consider signing up for an OpenFit membership : 

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Openfit: Fitness For Everybody - Wellness Blog

 Openfit makes healthy living simple, affordable, and fun with one app that has all of your fitness, nutrition, and community support in one place! Openfit offers both live, trainer-led classes and on-demand workouts with top fitness instructors

With their live online classes, you are able to work with a personal trainer who will help guide you in real-time and help you get the most from your workouts in the comfort of your own home!

P.S. -- Check out our whole line up of other great workout options to stack with OpenFit:

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