Episode 040: How to Find the Right Personal Trainer For You

Episode 040: How to Find the Right Personal Trainer For You

In this final episode of my seven-part behind-the-scenes mini-series, you’ll hear me share:

  • My biggest workout struggles post-adrenal fatigue

  • How I’m trying to practice intuitive exercising

  • The gap I’m currently facing in with my fitness

  • Why I decided to work with a personal trainer again

  • How I went about finding the right one for me.

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Welcome back to The Live FAB Life Podcast.

Today’s episode is the seventh and final installment of this behind-the-scenes mini-series - at least for now.

In the last episode, Episode 039, we talked about the emotional side of weight gain, and what that’s been like for me over the past couple of years.

And if you go back to Episode 012, I talk about how I overtrained, what that looked liked for me, and how it affected my health. And ever since then, it’s felt like I’ve been walking a fine line between knowing what’s enough FOR ME, and what’s not enough.

So as I’ve shared many times before, I worked with a personal trainer on and off for the better part of ten years - from 2004 to 2014.

For the first four years, from 2004 to 2008, I focused mostly on strength training, working out with a trainer twice a week, plus doing cardio and yoga on my own. And I had massive results during that time from weight loss to energy gains to self-confidence that I’d never felt before in my life.

Then, from 2008 onwards, my focus shifted to long-distance running as my primary goals with strength training and yoga as complementary cross-training.

And in 2010 in addition to working with a personal trainer, I also had a running coach.

And up until 2014, all of my workouts were planned out for me. All I had to do was login to see what my weekly training schedule was that my coach planned out for me, and show up for my personal training sessions with my trainer.

By 2014 I finally accepted that my body couldn’t continue to operate at that level anymore. It had shut down and was rebelling against me because I reached the point where exercise was no longer helpful, it was hurtful to my body and my health.

So 2014, my focus shifted again and I started taking Reformer Pilates. So once again, all I had to do was show up to my Pilates sessions and my Pilates instructor led me through a workout.

So I have been very used to having someone plan out and guide me through my workouts. I didn’t have to do any thinking or planning.

Well, that I all stopped last year in 2017. The trio of women that I took Pilates with kept having scheduling challenges so I stopped. And for the first time in 13 years, I was on my own. I didn’t have someone to plan out my workouts for me, or to hold me accountable, or to correct my form.

It’s been weird and I’ve felt lost with my workouts. My only goal right now is to practice intuitive exercise. So you’ve probably heard about intuitive eating, well, I want to bring that same approach to my workouts and do the kinds of workouts that my body was telling me.

And right now, in this season, it’s telling me to do resistance training with short cardio.

So that is what I’ve been TRYING to do. But the problem was that I haven’t had resistance training as my primary focus in so long and I’ve felt lost in the gym.

There were so many days where I would show up at the gym, without a plan and wander aimlessly around the gym floor not knowing what to do, or if I was doing exercises correctly.

So bought a few (like three or four) online strength training programs but they didn’t really work out for me. I either didn’t understand the move, wasn’t sure I was doing them correctly or just didn’t feel comfortable doing them.

What I eventually came to realize is that I had a gap.

The last time I had a regular resistance training routine, I was stronger and in much better resistance training shape. But my body wasn’t at that place anymore and I didn’t know how to bridge that gap.

I needed help. I needed personalize guidance - someone to assess my current state and get me to where I want to be.

So I decided that it was time to work with a personal trainer again.

Personal training is an investment. It’s an investment in myself and one that I’m happy to make because I’m worth it - and being strong and fit is important to me.

So today I want to give you some tips on how to go about finding the right trainer - FOR YOU.

Just like working with a health coach, or any type of coach really, it’s important to find the right fit - someone who understands your background, your goals, the things you’re currently struggling with and can get to where you want to go - but there also has to be a personality fit too.

So just to clarify - I am not at the same gym that I was when I first started working with a personal trainer 14 years ago and I’m not working with that trainer anymore.

So when I decided that it was time to find a trainer again, I went about it in a very methodical way. And I’m going to share the steps that I took, this time around, based on what I’ve learned over the years, and then I’ll give you some other tips that didn’t really apply to what I did now, but that I have done in the past.

The first thing I did was check out what the current training packages were so I didn’t have any sticker shock. Personal training can be expensive, but it’s an investment I’m willing to make. I want to work with someone who’s credentialed, and well, good at what they do.

I also respect that person’s time and expertise, and the investment that they made in their education and training that got them to where they are now. I’m a big believer in that you get what you pay for, and I want to work with someone good.

So I did my research before making any contact so I knew if the packages that the gym offered were within my affordability range, so as not to waste my time or theirs.

Then I emailed the Personal Training manager and explained what my health and athletic history was, and what my goals were.

The manager emailed me back with someone who he thought might be a good fit, based on what I told him. Because I had mentioned that I had run marathons, he thought I’d be a good fit with someone who had run them too.

This is where its super important to be clear on what your goals are AND to communicate them effectively.

I responded to the Personal Training Manager and let him know that although I had trained for marathons in the past, that wasn’t my actual goal. I shared my history with marathons so he would understand that I have a history with burnout, overtraining and adrenal fatigue, and was looking to work with a trainer who was knowledgeable of these topics and took a functional approach to resistance training.

That clarification changed everything and he referred me to another trainer instead.

Next, I had a free assessment with the trainer, where we didn’t workout - rather, we talked about what my history had been, where I’m at now, and what I want to do next. He shared his personal training work history with me, where he had been educated at and certified by and then he took some measurements.

Oh one thing - I was also very clear that I wasn’t interested in receiving any nutritional advice from him or have him try to impose his personal philosophies on nutrition on me. As I’ve shared before, my whole “calories in vs calories out” approach to health had come from a trainer that I had worked with in the past and I don’t subscribe to that anymore.

And here’s the thing that I’ve learned that I was so naive about before. Just because someone is a personal trainer, doesn’t mean they’re necessarily trained in nutrition. Just like doctors - just because someone is a doctor, doesn’t mean they know anything about nutrition.

And my trainer was very understanding and respectful of that.

Our next session was our first workout together - a complimentary session so I could get a feel of his training style and he could assess my current level of fitness.

Needless to say, it all went very well, I really his approach to training, oh and he actually is quite knowledgeable in nutrition - we share similar philosophies on it and he’s also doing some nutritional training programs that I’m familiar with that I think are quite good.

We’ve been working together for almost eight weeks and I really like how he’s focused on reestablishing some basic foundation training before moving on to more advanced work.

Let me put it this way - I haven’t hated anything he’s asked me to do - yet.

I think we, as humans, tend to hate exercise because we don’t start off at the appropriate levels - FOR US.

We think, “Oh hey, push-ups are good for us, so we start out trying to do three sets of 20 pushups because some magazine article or online program or social media influencer tells us that we should.

But if your body isn’t primed to do that yet, it’s going to feel hard, and unachievable, AND you could even end up hurting yourself!

And you end up hating it, and then you stop trying all together - and this is how people come to hate working out - am I right?

I know that is 100% what my PE class was like in high school and probably why for the first 30 years of my life, I hated exercise!

So for me, this is why I workout with a trainer. I find that my benefits are:

  • I get my workouts personalize for my current fitness level in a way that feels challenging, yet doable
  • I have an expert there to coach me, and give me verbal cues to ensure that I’m doing the movements properly. And then it becomes a learning experience for me so that I am able to do them on my own
  • It takes the thinking out of it for me. I have so many other things on my mind, this is one less thing I have to think about. I just show-up, I don’t have to second guess myself in wondering if I’m doing things right, and it lessens my decision fatigue.

So if you’ve been struggling to find the right workouts for you, consider getting a personal trainer, or a running coach, or whatever type of person who can guide you in what it is you want to do, and don’t be afraid to ask questions and vet that person out to make sure it’s a mutually good fit.

The person who you may be considering working with also wants to get to know you because they also want to make sure that you’re a good fit for them.

And I think when you do this, you’re not only doing both of you a favor to make sure it is a productive partnership, but you’re also voicing what it is that you want. I think this is something that so many of us have trouble doing, but when you’re able to articulate what it is you’re looking for, you find more clarity, not just for the people you’re communicating with, but also for yourself too.

So this wraps up my behind-the-scenes mini-series. I’m sure that I’ll do another one in the future, but starting next week, we’ll be back to more expert interviews, real people interviews and educational topics.

And if you have a topic that you’ll like to hear discussed on the show, feel free to submit your requests over on my website at www.livefablife.com/podcasts. There’s a form there that you can fill out and send your requests over.

Until then, we’ll see you next week.


Naomi Nakamura is a Functional Nutrition Health Coach. Through her weekly show, The Live FAB Live Podcast, programs, coaching services and safer skincare solutions, she helps people with chronic skin issues clear up their skin by teaching them where food meets physiology and how food, gut health, stress, and toxins are intricately connected to the health and appearance of our skin. Naomi resides in the San Francisco Bay Area and can often be found romping around the city with her puppy girl, Coco Pop!
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