Searching for a Good Trainer/Coach | APEX THE GYM

Searching for a Good Trainer/Coach

Searching for a Good Trainer/Coach
Friday, March 29, 2013 *from archives
By Kevin Hirose – BKin, CSCS

In this day and age, especially in the lower mainland area, fitness and exercise are an integral parts of people’s daily lives.  There are numerous gyms, personal training studios, yoga studios, martial arts clubs and many personal trainers.  Now let’s discuss personal trainers.

What you may have heard or seen on television programs such as “The Biggest Loser” is not truly representative of what goes on during a personal training session or at least what should happen during a proper one.  So, unfortunately, there are people who believe that is what all trainers are like.  Just like any industry there are good, average and just plain bad people in it.  Unfortunately, for the average person it can be very difficult to distinguish the good from the bad.  To become a Personal Trainer no degree is required , actually, a high school diploma is not even required to become one in BC.Neither is a practicum or mentorship, therefore, the majority of certifications are deep in theory and shallow in quality practical work.

The biggest weakness of the personal trainer (PT), in my opinion, is technical coaching of exercises and movement.  Many trainers can put together a balanced program that fits their client’s needs but cannot get them to do the exercises correctly which, in my opinion, is more important than the program itself.  So if you are searching for a good trainer or coach there are a several things to look for:

1) Well-Recognized Personal Training Certifications

This does not guarantee a high quality trainer or a “great fit” but will narrow the list down considerably.

ACSM (American College of Sports Medicine): clinical exercise –
NASM (National Academy of Sports Medicine): performance & corrective exercise –
NSCA (National Strength & Conditioning Association): performance & sports –
CSEP (Canadian Society for Exercise Physiology –

2)Specializations/Other Credentials

Here are several options if you looking for a particular type of trainer or one with a specific skill set that the “generalist” trainer may not offer:

CSCS (Certified Strength & Conditioning Specialist) thru NSCA –
– considered the “gold standard” in strength and conditioning and requires a university degree

FMS (Functional Movement Screen) thru Functional Movement Systems –
 – highly regarded for reducing training injuries and corrective exercise (level 2 certification) for movement imbalances, even used with professional sports teams to reduce injury rates

RKC (Russian Kettlebell Certification) –
– very highly regarded for kettlebell technique and strength instruction

PES (Performance Enhancement Specialist) thru NASM –
 – very similar to CSCS although not as well known but a high quality credential nonetheless

ACSM CLINICAL certification for clinical/medical exercise for those with cardiovascular, pulmonary and metabolic diseases –

3)Compatibility with Trainer/Coach

Compatibility with your trainer is important, especially if it is long term.

If you are looking for a chatty or a straight to business type make sure he/she is the type you get along with well

Try to avoid self-absorbed and inattentive ones


This includes punctuality, proper gym attire and overall professional demeanor during the training session.

A trainer who is a friend or family member is usually not recommended but if that is the case he/she should keep the personal and professional relationships separate.

5)Ability to Communicate Information

The trainer must be able to express and communicate directions and feedback clearly and concisely.

The trainer/coach should be able to convey information in a method or methods which the client is receptive to such as: visual (demonstration), verbal (explanation), kinesthetic (by doing) or combination of.

He/She should explain in terms or phrases that the client understands, for example, the average client may not understand “retract your scapulae”. However, they will very likely understand “pinch your shoulder blades together”.


– you will have a much better understanding of the quality of service you will receive

– provides some type of reference and personal experience with a particular trainer


Just like in any industry, personal training contains the good, the bad and the ugly.  However, there is a matter of your safety and well-being that are at stake so do some research before hiring a trainer!  Trainers and coaches are responsible for assisting you in becoming fitter, feeling better and providing proper exercise NOT in making you more injured, feeling worse and less active due to unnecessary training injuries.  And if you find a quality trainer who is a great fit it may be the best investment you will ever make!

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