Find the best personal trainer for you

There are so many variables to finding a personal trainer in Los Angeles. In the end, you have to go with your gut. But while your gut is deciding, here are some questions to ask your potential trainer, or yourself, during your search.

1. What kind of (and how much) experience does your personal trainer have?
We used to believe that mastery of a skill came after 10,000 hours of deliberate practice. However the popular “practice-makes-perfect” theory has been debunked in favor of the more nuanced idea that “smart practice makes perfect.” In other words, when it comes to learning a skill, it’s the quality of time spent practicing, not the number of hours logged, that transform a novice into a virtuoso. One building block of high-quality practice is swift recognition and correction of mistakes. How is this relevant to your prospective personal trainer in Los Angeles? Personal Trainers learn whether or not their methodologies work in real time, making adjustments along the way to help clients reach their goals. In this way, the more experience your trainer has, the better. Plus, studies show that teaching is a great way to learn . The best personal trainers have been teaching proper technique for a long timed has likely gotten better and better at providing the right cues to help you get the most out of every single training session. Once you’ve gotten a handle on how long a personal trainer has been successful in Los Angeles, don’t forget to ask what kind of experience your personal trainers have. Whether you’re brand new to working out or an experienced athlete looking for sports-specific training, you’ll want a personal trainer who knows how to work with someone just like you. A few things to consider: fitness level, age, health status, fitness interests, or any other particulars you think might be important.

2. What is your personal trainer’s strategy for preventing and dealing with injuries?
Many of us deal with nagging aches and pains or recurring injuries and we’re unsure how to get a great workout without causing a flare-up. If you're nursing an old injury, your personal trainer should be capable of adjusting your training to work around it. For any new injuries, they'll recommend seeing a physician before going back into beast mode.

3. Do they specialize in any training styles?
The NCCA stamp of approval might be enough to make you feel comfortable, confident, and ready to book your first session, but if you have specific goals (conquering a handstand, getting in shape for surfing, swinging a kettlebell like a pro) or have always been curious about a particular kind of workout (suspension training, anyone?), you might want to make sure your trainer is someone who can lead the way. Find out if they’ve been formally instructed in a given area and are certified to teach it. Maybe you’d like someone with a YogaFit credential, a CrossFit Level I cert, or a certificate in kettlebell liftsTRXPilatesmind-body training, and so on. Many trainers pursue continuing education in dizzying array of other areas, from plyometrics and nutrition for marathoners to glutes and low-back pain! (Click here to see some lesser-known certifications offered by ACE you might want to seek out.)

4. What's the fine print re: cost, location, and availability?
Los Angeles is a big city. And you don’t have a lot of extra time, so it’s important to find a personal trainer close by in your neighborhood. If you live in Echo Park, you don’t have time to drive to Hollywood for a workout. If you live in Los Feliz, why drove to West LA to see a personal trainer? There are plenty of great trainers on the Eastside of Los Angeles. A great personal trainer is worth his or her weight in gold. But for many people, the personal trainer we choose has more to do with the amount of gold we have to spend. Do some comparison shopping to find out average rates in Los Angeles. Now days, personal trainers in Los Angeles can cost as much as $300 per session. If a personal trainer seems out of your budget, you have a couple of options. Some trainers offer lower rates for semi-private workouts, which are something between one-on-one training and a group class. You can also inquire about discounts for buying sessions in bulk. Alternatively, consider looking at working with a trainer as an added bonus to your workout routine (as opposed to the only time you exercise). For example, ask your prospective personal trainer about possible arrangements where you might meet in-person less frequently but follow their program between sessions. It’s also a good idea to inquire about their schedule—if they tend to meet clients at the same time each week, how far in advance they book appointments, their cancellation policy, and whether it’s possible to make up missed sessions.

5. What is their coaching style?
When it comes to client-trainer compatibility, personality and training style are crucial. Consider your own learning style first. If you’re someone who picks up a movement by having it broken down into its smallest components and demonstrated repeatedly, be sure to choose a trainer who is interested in the minutiae of exercise and has the patience to go through the details.

Next up: the personality of your ideal personal trainer. Do you want a cheerleader who will remind you of how awesome you are for making the effort, or do you need a stern, drill sergeant-type who is more likely to tell you to go harder, faster, and heavier than congratulate you on each small victory? Either one (and anything in between) is fine! One study found that trainees were more successful when they received ongoing social support from their trainers . On the other hand, some clients might be self-sufficient when it comes to motivation and gel with a trainer who encourages autonomy. Although you can get plenty of answers by asking your maybe-future-trainer all about their methodologies and how they see their own styles and attitudes, checking in with someone who trains with them could offer additional insight. Ask for references to get the inside scoop on what it's like to be the trainer’s client—like their pet peeve about punctuality or how adept they are at explaining and instruction.

6. Do they stay on top of fitness trends and related research?
Extensive fitness knowledge and expertise is a main reason why people want to work with personal trainers. Your trainer should be able to speak about a variety of training styles and the advantages and drawbacks of each. Most trainers have their own opinion about what gets results, but the best ones aren't so married to one particular modality that they won’t be versatile in their programming. According to ACE expert Jessica Matthews, if you happen to catch your trainer using the same exercises and routines with other clients, it could be that he or she might not understand the “why” behind your workout and how specific exercises will help you to reach your goals. The best trainers are the ones who love what they do (same is true for any profession). And loving what you do often translates into always wanting to improve and expand your knowledge so you can keep getting better at your job. If your prospective trainer seems less than passionate about continuing his or her education—or thinks that he or she already knows all there is to know about fitness—it's probably a good idea to consider working with someone else, Matthews says.

Good luck, and happy training!