Hi Hayley!
I am looking for advice on how to find a personal trainer. Here's a bit of background:
I am very active. I compete in masters swimming during the fall/winter and triathlon and open water swimming in the spring/summer. In addition to these competitive endeavours I like to hike, surf, yoga, and generally try new things.

My fitness is at an all time-high, but I do not have much power or speed. As well I have been struggling through some minor injuries that are a result of imbalances and lack of core strength.

As I look forward to my fall routine (I am taking August "off" of scheduled training to recharge), I think I could benefit from some personal training. I have always struggled to enjoy "the gym" and am nervous about starting a strength routine without some guidance on form. My main goals are to improve speed and power in the pool and to stay injury free.

So how do I go about finding a trainer? What should I look for? Do I need to join a gym? How much can I expect it to cost and how often should I be seeing them? Any advice would be greatly appreciated!

- Fit but Weak


An area that is growing rapidly on the west coast, as well as the rest of Canada, is the introduction of the training studio that combines the serious recreational athlete, like yourself, alongside professional athletes all under the same roof. Studios like Fortius in Burnaby, BC and Qualico Training Center in Winnipeg, MB hire qualified athletic coaches that have a minimum of a bachelor’s degree in sports science along with many other specific certifications. They also have a large staff of physiotherapists, sports medicine doctors, and massage therapists, just to name a few.

The reason I am recommending a studio like this is because you are not looking to just get a “workout”.  You don’t need to cram yourself into a room with 25 other people with the sole purpose being to burn calories. You burn enough calories as it is. What you need is specificity and guidance. You need someone to help make sure that you reach your goals while at the same time keeping your body healthy. You can work individually with a trainer or join smaller group workouts where you are all working towards the same goal. You can also benefit from working with their other in-house staff to address your current injuries.

Another option is to hire yourself a personal coach to guide you through workouts that you do on your own. Online coaching is a great option if your schedule makes it difficult to commit to a personal trainer or a group workout. I had a coach that I used for years when I was competing in triathlons. They simply design your weekly workouts for you and put it online for you to access whenever you need it. They will challenge you to reach levels that you may not be comfortable with, pushing your fitness boundaries and building the speed and power that you are looking for. There are usually varying prices which will determine how much contact you and your coach have, usually ranging from weekly emails to weekly personal coaching sessions. If you go this route I would recommend a few personal sessions to start, and have your coach design you a strength program. You should be good with one personal session every 6 weeks and then do the rest of the work on your own.
To find a studio like the one mentioned above, in your city, I would recommend asking a physiotherapist for a training center they recommend. To find an online coach talk to your masters swim instructor or other triathletes that you train with. For in-studio, top athletic training, you are looking at a minimum of $90 for an hour workout and $30-$40 for a group session. Online coaching runs somewhere between $75 a month up to $200 or more. Unlike wine, sometimes paying more does mean better quality. 
Give it a try for a couple of months, leading you into the winter, and then again in the spring and I guarantee you will have the best triathlon season yet.