5 Questions Every Athlete Needs to Ask When Choosing a Trainer

by David Justice

5 questions

You have many options when it comes to choosing where you’re going to train to prepare for next season. So, how do you make the best choice for YOUR needs?

Here are five key questions to ask when looking for a new trainer.

1.   What type of clients do you spend most of your time training?

When you’re searching for a trainer, make sure they have experience in working with clients similar to you. If the majority of their schedule is made up of women over the age of 60, they might not be the best fit for you if you are a 16 year-old football player who is trying to gain 25 pounds of muscle before your junior season.

This doesn’t necessarily mean you should say no simply because you’re a basketball player and they’ve only worked with soccer players in the past – the important thing is that they’ve worked with clients whose backgrounds and/or goals are similar to yours (i.e. young athletes, etc.).

My Answer: From the day I started back in August of 2014, it was a goal of mine to bring more teenage athletes through the doors at AYC since that was a demographic we hadn’t traditionally worked with very often in the past. Since then, I’ve been fortunate to work with dozens of young athletes who have played team and individual sports. I’ve trained baseball, basketball, football, soccer, and tennis players, golfers, and rowers.

Currently, the clients I work with every week are roughly 50% teenage athletes, and 50% general population adult clientele. That figure is skewed a bit after sending multiple freshmen off to begin their collegiate athletic careers back in August, but that’s where I’m at now.

2.   How will you help me reach my goals?

Just because you’re a baseball player doesn’t mean there is a single workout program you and every other baseball player need to follow in order to succeed at your sport. Unfortunately, there are trainers out there who lump all clients with a similar commonality like that under the same umbrella when it comes to what your workout program consists of.

Make sure the trainer isn’t lazy and that they will take the time to figure out what you need based on the information you provide them. There are plenty of highly qualified trainers out there – don’t waste your time with one who uses cookie cutter routines for the majority of their clients. Be sure they are specific with their answer and ask follow-up questions if you’re still unsure of their programs.

My Answer: Every athlete I train is unique, and their respective workout programs are designed with that in mind. During your initial complimentary consultation, I’ll ask about your goals, strengths and weaknesses as an athlete, and prior experience with strength and conditioning. This helps me begin to know you as an person and how best I can motivate you in the most effective manner.

From there, I’ll guide you through an assessment that identifies several basic movement patterns. This takes approximately 10-15 minutes and helps with identifying any weaknesses or deficiencies that may be present.

Once your consultation is complete, I’ll begin the process of designing a workout program tailored specifically to you and your needs. Factors that play a role in program design include:

·       Your experience level with strength and conditioning

·       Results from the movement assessment

·       Timeframe until the next season begins

·       What sport you play

·       Your age

With that information in mind, we’ll get you going on the right track and put you in the best possible position to meet your athletic goals for the upcoming season.

3.   What are your certifications?

The barrier to entry in the fitness industry is pretty low. While a college education isn’t always required to gain employment, most training facilities require their trainers to acquire a fitness-related certification to prove they know what they’re doing. With that being said, some certifications are better than others. According to the National Commission for Certifying Agencies, the most highly-regarded personal training certifications are ACSM, ACE, NASM, and NSCA. If your prospective trainer has any of these accreditations, you are likely in good hands. If not, you may want to do some research once you get home to check out the validity of their certification before choosing to move forward and train with them.

My Answer: After asking around and doing some research several years back, I decided to go with NASM because I felt it offered the most thorough process from start to finish. This was especially important to me because unlike many of my peers, my educational background was not in exercise physiology or any related field. I went to business school for both undergrad (KU for a B.S. in Management & Leadership) and grad school (UMKC, for an MBA with dual emphases of Management and Entrepreneurship).

4.   Why did you choose training as a career path?

This question gives you a look into your prospective trainer’s mind to see what their motivation is. With the amount of money that you’re about to invest, you want to make sure your trainer is passionate about their vocation and not just doing it for the paycheck. The more tuned-in and effective your trainer is, the more the client gets out of the experience, and vice versa. If the trainer is apathetic and doesn’t seem to care about whether you reach your goals or not, it won’t be a good experience and you’d be best served to train with someone else.

My Answer: During my first few years out of college, I had several jobs I didn’t enjoy. I knew they were only short-term gigs, but at that point in time I still had no idea what I wanted to do with the rest of my life.

After leaving a corporate position in August of 2013, I spent six months doing some soul searching trying to figure out what I wanted to pursue. And then I had an epiphany – not only had I always enjoyed working out, but I also really liked coaching and teaching. Back when I was in high school and college, I coached youth baseball camps with my high school coach, and I loved every minute of it. Truth be told, if teachers made more money, there’s little doubt in my mind that I would be a high school teacher and baseball coach.

Once I put two and two together, I realized that working at AYC would enable me to combine my passion for physical fitness with coaching youth athletes. That platform would give me an opportunity to help them get bigger, stronger, faster, and more importantly, better at their respective sport while teaching them in a safe, controlled environment.

And I was right. I’ve been at AYC over 3 years now and working with teenage athletes is still every bit as fun now as it was in the beginning.

5.   Do you have references?

Do you want to blindly place your trust in the hands of someone you’re just meeting for the first time? Probably not. It always helps to put your mind at ease when you can see firsthand proof of your potential trainer’s methods and results. You need to know how others have benefitted by the trainer’s coaching services.

My Answer: Of course! Here are a few…

All three of our kids have worked with Greg and David at AYC. Having a workout tailored to their needs was invaluable in helping them accomplish their goals, whether it’s making the high school team, or playing professional sports. Of course, your child will only get as much out of training as they put into it, and AYC will help them realize their potential.” – Jenny Wentz

“David’s sessions are tough and productive. They yield results from the start. More importantly, our son enjoys going!! The location is super convenient so homework time isn’t wasted commuting. We think the workout techniques learned at AYC can be used well in college and beyond.” – Donita Miller

“My son had just turned 13 and wanted to increase his strength and flexibility, mostly with hope of improving his baseball skills. Working David had a significant impact on Dom’s physical strength, and has also given him a boost in self-confidence! He looks forward to his sessions at AYC, and clearly sees the benefit in his overall fitness. It has been a pleasure to get to know David and experience his genuine excitement at helping Dom achieve his goals.” – Julie Zanone


Bonus Question: How do you specialize your programming for female athletes?

Trick question. There is a common misperception that female athletes need to be trained differently from male athletes. This simply isn’t true! Being female doesn’t mean you can’t train hard and lift heavy weights.

My Answer: Absolutely nothing changes with my process when it comes to designing programs for female athletes. Male or female, I will ask the same background questions, perform the same movement assessment, and keep the same factors in mind when creating your personalized program.

After reading this week’s blog post, I hope you’ve got a better idea of certain things to look for if/when you’re in the market for a new trainer. There are a lot of good (and some less than stellar) candidates out there, so it’s in your best interest to vet people out so you can make a good choice the first time around.

As always, feel free to give me a call at 913.593.1708 or shoot me an email at David@aycfit.com with any questions or comments.

If you, or your child, are committed to improvement, our Sports Performance Program may just be the perfect fit.

We utilize a Small Group Personal Training setting with no more than 4 athletes training together at a time. This allows us to provide plenty of individual attention along with customized workouts tailored to the goals of each individual.

These sessions take place 6 days per week and are ongoing so you can start at any time.

Here’s a schedule.

David Justice

David Justice
AYC Health & Fitness
Director of Athletics
913-642-4437 #113