How To Choose a Personal Trainer: Part One

This is such an important subject that this blog is in two parts.

We know you’re busy and there’s a lot of good advice coming your way.  To avoid information overload, look out for part two very soon.

So.  You’ve decided to make some changes in your life and given that you’re reading this blog, one may assume that you’d like to get fitter, lose weight, sleep better and all those things that come with, assuming your commitment, working out with a personal trainer.  This is a handy guide to help you know what to ask.

Do You Like Them?

First things first and actually NOT a question, at least not to the PT in front of you.

Working out with a personal trainer is a new stage in your life that you shouldn’t take lightly, so decide whether you actually like this person.  Your Spidey senses will guide you on this one and if he or she is on your wavelength, this is a Good Thing.  If your future PT likes a “normal life” instead of living on carrot juice and fresh air, we think this is also a Good Thing – but you may beg to differ.  In a nutshell, a personality clash may put you off further consideration of employing a personal trainer, so if you appear to have similar values, then all will be well.

We think that having a laugh is quite important, too, so check out subtly someone’s sense of humour, it makes your session much more enjoyable.

What Are Your Qualifications?

It’s important that your PT is qualified to a minimum Level 3.  Why?  Because it’s from this level that they will have the skills, knowledge and competencies required to work unsupervised as a personal trainer.  This includes being able to offer one-to-one training, assessments and progressive planning – all those essential elements that help develop fitness and health.

He or she needs also to be on the Register of Exercise Professionals.   Funded by the Department of Health, REPS offers you a guarantee that its members meet the required standards and that they have acceptable qualifications.

Do You Have Professional Indemnity Insurance?

Insurance.  Boring.  Yes, we know.  But…

Providing advice and tuition is an essential part of a personal trainer’s job. Whether you’re working out in a gym, in the open air in your home, Professional Indemnity insurance covers your PT should anything they advise you be called into question, perhaps due to an injury because of exercising them him or her.  It’s rare, but could happen.  Professional Liability Insurance is good to have, too.

What is Your Speciality?

Personal trainers, like the rest of us, come in all different shapes and forms and of course, some will specialise in certain health aspects or in specific types of exercise.  If you are more “mature”, you may consider a PT who understands how best to work with older people, rather than young, skinny fitties.

Perhaps you are recovering from an injury or, at the other end of the scale, training for a marathon.  You may wish to focus on developing your physique for fitness competitions, even.

There’s a PT out there for everyone, whose experience will be invaluable, so it’s worth asking.

What Type of People Do You Train?

Linked to the above point, to a degree.

There are lots of different types of people whom PTs can help.  Examples could be post-birth mothers, busy working people, middle-aged, getting-back-into-fitness folks, runners, young, old, you name it.  All of their needs will be different so do ask.  If the person in which you wish to invest time, money and effort doesn’t have relevant experience, that’s OK, but it’s better that they do.

What Type of Training Can I Expect?

A key question, this one.  Knowing what to expect avoids nasty surprises and means that you’ll be able to make the most of your investment.  Good PTs will ask you to consider what fitness and optimum health means to you – and you alone.  Personal training, it’s personal, you know.

Depending on what you’re after (see marathon training, above), your programme will mostly likely combine strength and flexibility training with a little cardio thrown in for overall fitness.  The combination of all three is ideal.  Make sure that you ask.

What Do You Charge?

Yes, we know, this is probably the first thing you want to know about a fitness professional.  They may offer certain packages or offer slightly cheaper rates at off-peak times.

But beware. you are investing in your health, fitness and general well being.  Be aware that, as with everything in life, cheap does not necessarily mean good.  In fact, cheap may mean unskilled, or lacking in experience.

Pay for someone whose qualifications, know-how and overall demeanour suit you, your lifestyle and who will most likely meet your goals.  And, as above, someone you like.

Worth their weight in gold, these fitness bods.  And you know it.

Watch out for Part Two very soon and we hope you found our advice useful.

Top 7 Myths About Personal Training Busted Here

What are YOUR beliefs about Personal Training? It May Be Time for a Re-Think

The Top 7 Myths About Personal Training Busted Here.

It’s Not For Me, I’m Too Old/I’m The Wrong Shape, etc

OK, this is myth number one. You are not too old, too out of shape, too inactive or too anything. None of us is perfect. Personal training is for everyone, at any age or level of fitness. It’s for the person who wants to make a positive change but just needs a little help.

If you’ve not exercised for some time, an effective training programme should be tailored exactly to your level of fitness and adapted as you progress. If you feel a little sore the next day that’s OK but if you’re on-your-knees drained, unable to get out of bed, that’s not so good.

A good personal trainer will carry out a thorough assessment of your fitness levels and your health before you start, so make sure that this happens.

It’s Exhausting and Painful..and Hard Core

A session with a personal trainer should be challenging but never so exhausting that you can’t function afterwards. It shouldn’t hurt either. I must admit I hate the phrase “go hard or go home” – we’re not in the army, thank you.

Also, I still hear “no pain no gain” bandied about and it’s another myth that’s difficult to shake. With a PT, you’ll be working harder and more effectively than you would do in the gym on your own, but he or she should know how many reps you need to make a difference without doing any damage.

It’s All Rather Embarrassing…Isn’t It?

No, don’t worry. If you’re working out with a personal trainer in a public gym, everyone is pretty much focused on themselves rather than you. (That is, unless you’re wearing day-glow orange from top to toe.)

Some personal trainers offer sessions in their own studio, which is ideal.

Also, you won’t be doing anything that makes you feel awkward or embarrassed. Good PTs know that if they discomfit you, you’ll cancel with them. Simple as that.

No Way. Personal Training is like PE at School

Surely, the grim humiliation of PE from the days of our youth has put many of us off exercise in later life – but it shouldn’t.

The memory of running around a draughty hall in your school regulation navy blue knickers should be consigned to history. Exercise sessions with a personal trainer are nothing like PE at school. Firstly, wear what you like – within reason, as long as you feel comfortable. Secondly, one-to-one exercise sessions are about developing your strength, flexibility and overall fitness. They should actually be fun. If they’re not, don’t do it.

Or, more to the point, find another personal trainer.

There’s Lots of Running

Not unless you want there to be. You may be training for a marathon, in which case – yes. Most PT clients want to lose weight, tone up, gain better health and simply feel better. That means a tailored programme that combines weight training with interval training (High Interval Training, HIT for short).

Funnily enough, running on its own is no longer seen to be the best and most effective means of fat loss. You’ll need to focus on the calorie burning magic of stronger, larger muscles to start noticing significant weight loss.

But I Don’t Need to Lose Weight!

Okaaaaay. Let’s focus on improving your posture, flexibility and on helping you eat and sleep better. Let’s work together to make you stronger, leaner and fitter. You may be referred to a personal trainer from another health professional after injury or illness, perhaps. Why not focus on other equally important aspects of your wellbeing?

Whatever your health goals, a personal trainer will help you get there.

It’s Really Expensive

Not really. Not compared to the money you spent on your last haircut or that you’ve spent on wine in the last few weeks . Or, that gym membership you pay for monthly but never actually go.

Us Brits waste £37 million each year on unused gym memberships, exercise and slimming classes, a staggering amount which, compared with the cost of a personal trainer, is just chucking money into the bin.

And remember, you don’t have to go twice a week. You could consider sessions every other week; personal training is about what works for you.

Seriously, you can’t put a price on your health – a cliché but nonetheless true.

So…myths busted. Don’t let your own pre-conceptions stop you from living life to the full. Be well, be happy. Be Body Happy.