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8 Ways I Knew My Personal Trainer Was A Perfect Fit

After having personal trainers push their own agendas in the past, here's how one runner knew she found the perfect one for her.

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Personal Training

I am spending the summer in New York City writing, enjoying precious time with family, indulging in my mother’s delicious healthful meals, doing events like the Catamount 25k and the Finger Lakes 50s 50K race, and training with the newest bestie in my life: my personal trainer.

I decided that if I was going to be in the city all summer, literally spending the majority of my time on my butt writing, that I should probably be doing some very intense training, specifically to improve myself mentally and physically for my upcoming events (Narragansett Beer Half, Tough Mudder Long Island, Georgia Jewel 35 Mile Run, Tough Mudder Dallas, Marine Corps Marathon and New York City Marathon).

During Tough Mudder Atlanta this past May, I struggled with almost all of the obstacles that required upper body strength and/or required core strength, which was basically all of them. Because of this (and because I am somewhat of a glutton for punishment), I decided to let a personal trainer guide me to becoming the best OCR (obstacle course racing) and running gal I can be right here, right now.

I don’t know about you, but I’ve definitely had issues in the past with personal trainers—either they come at you with some pre-determined focus not taking into account what your goals are, or they immediately tag you for weight-loss, steering your fitness in a direction that is not holistic or mindful of your lifestyle.

This summer I’ve had the opportunity to work with Stephanie Abud, a trainer out of the Lifetime Fitness Gym at Sky in New York City. I joined the gym thinking I would be happy just being able to use fancy equipment that didn’t smell like stale teenage-boy-sweat, swim in a snazzy roof-deck pool, and hang around folks like Carmelo Anthony and CJ McCollum. YUM! But that wasn’t enough. I decided to take advantage of having unfettered access to a quality gym and sign up for personal training.

I had heard there was this CRAZY trainer who did Tough Mudders and Spartans, and was like REALLY INTO IT. I made an appointment with her, and I have not looked back, except I’ve looked at my back and it’s coming along nicely.

Here’s why she is perfect for me:

  1. She asked questions about my goals and what I wanted to achieve.
  2. She listened to my questions and answered them like the grown-up I am.
  3. She did not try to push any weight loss-focused agenda on me, although we talked about weight loss in a non-judgmental, strategic, athletic-performance way.
  4. She did not underestimate my physical ability nor did she overload me too early.
  5. She created a program that is specifically geared to my OCR and running goals.
  6. She keeps the workouts interesting, varied, and sufficiently to very challenging, but not impossible.
  7. She is knowledgeable, not just about physiology and specific, but about recovery, sports nutrition, running and how to get the most out of specific workouts.
  8. She walks the walk, runs the run, and OCRs the OCRs.

The only downside is she makes me do planks. I really don’t appreciate that…

So what should YOU look for in a trainer? Stephanie suggests the following:

“First and foremost, your trainer should be certified by a reputable organization such as NASM, ACE, or ACSM. She should also strike a balance between giving you what you want and giving you what you need. There should definitely be a good rapport between trainer and client. Imagine spending good money to spend hours and hours with a person with whom you just don’t click. Not necessary, not helpful and not ideal.”

And I hadn’t thought of this one, but it’s important: “In addition to working on your specific goals, your personal trainer should always have improving functional movement and mobility in mind.”

She adds: “There should be a natural ebb and flow to the training session and you should feel as though your trainer isn’t figuring out/making up your session on the fly. That would be called professionalism. A trainer should never get complacent with the client. On the flipside, clients should always feel like they can speak up if some aspect of training isn’t working for them. Your trainer should walk the walk, nuff said.”

And I’ll add the last piece of advice: If you’ve come to a point in which you NEVER look forward to your training sessions (because let’s be real, you aren’t ALWAYS going to be chomping at the bit to get your butt kicked), it’s probably time to find someone else.

Are you working with a personal trainer? How has it enhanced your running and other fitness goals?