Doctor physiotherapist stretching a young sport woman

Nowadays it seems that every fifth person you meet is a personal trainer. With so many personal trainer courses lurking the internet, it’s hardly surprising. It’s not surprise, either that this proliferation has led to an over supply of ‘cowboys’ who think that pumped up pecs and a six pack are all they need to start getting your money flowing directly into their bank account.

As like never before, then, the old maxim ‘caveat emptor’, or let the buyer beware, applies to shopping for a personal trainer.

Here are 3 vital considerations when trying to find a personal trainer, along with a dozen key questions to ensure that you team up with the perfect trainer to fit your goals, your personality and your budget.

Consideration #1: Professionalism
Professionalism is extremely important in a personal trainer. While it is important to develop a rapport with the client, this should never be at the expense of professionalism. Here are 8 red flags to signal what you don’t want to see. Observe the trainers at your gym in relation to them . . .

Red Flag No. 1: Talking on their mobile phone while training a client
How much value for money is the client getting? How safe are they when the trainer’s attention is diverted elsewhere.

Red Flag No.  2: An untidy or unclean uniform
If the trainer doesn’t give attention to their personal care and hygiene, how much attention are they going to give you? Remember the old adage; the way you do anything is the way you do everything. So, if he’s sloppy in the small things, he’ll probably be sloppy in the big things too.

Red Flag No.  3: Out of Shape
If the trainer is out of shape, what does that tell you about the success of their training system? Either it’s not very effective, or they don’t follow it. Neither is a good look. To be professional, you have to walk the talk. On the other hand, just because they have 20 inch biceps, doesn’t make them a good trainer.

Red Flag No.  4: Working all hours
If a trainer is working from 6am to 9pm, how well are they going to be able to focus? Inevitably, the trainer is going to be constantly tired. That being the case, how well will they be planning your sessions? How much focus will they have when they’re delivering your sessions?

Red Flag No.  5: Give Carbon Copy Workouts
Well have different genetics, different postures, different goals, training ages and backgrounds. That means that we all need individualized workout programs. Your doctor wouldn’t give the same prescription to every patient, and neither should a personal trainer.

Red Flag No.  6: Generalized Nutritional Advice
Dietary advice needs to be just as tailored as your training regimen. Your trainer should be able to work out a detailed, specific eating plan that will meet your unique needs.

Red Flag No.  7: Rep Counters
You want more than a rep counter while you’re training. You need someone who is actually going to coach you on proper technique for each and every rep.

Red Flag No.  8: Not Interviewing You at the Outset
It is vital that you have initial interview. This will, firstly, ensure that you are ready for change. Then they will determine your goals and your core values. Unless they do this, they will be unable to motivate you when the going gets tough, because they will not have discovered your emotional triggers.

Consideration #3: Knowledge
At a minimum a personal trainer should have a good knowledge of human anatomy, physiology, biomechanics and program design.  He or she must be certified from a creditable institution. Good trainers will be constantly upskilling themselves. You want a trainer who has a passion and a desire to learn. Check that the personal trainer has trained people that have the same goals as you.

Consideration #4: Personality
You are going to be spending some serious time with your trainer, so it pays to like him or her. If you have good chemistry with your trainer, then you are going to have a good session. If you like their communication style, then you will look forward to the sessions, which will make you far less likely to quit.

Key Questions
Here are a dozen questions that you need to be asking your potential personal trainer, along with the answers you want to hear. Any wishy-washy answers should make you think twice about trusting your body into the hands of this trainer.

  • Can I use a cell phone in the gym? No! This is your workout time; switch it off!
  • How often do you work out? Minimum of 3 times per week.
  • What kind of exercise do you do? Look for a passionate response that mixes aerobic and anaerobic exercise.
  • What sort of diet do you follow? Look for a specific, rather than a vague, answer.
  • What time do you go to bed and how much sleep do you get? Should be in bed by 10:30 and get 8 hours sleep per night.
  • Do You Smoke Cigarettes? Absolutely not!
  • How will you devise my exercise program and what prior assessments will you do? There should be some kind of biomechanical assessment and a movement screen.
  • Will you give me dietary advice or will you refer me to someone else for that information? A good trainer will at least give you one of those options. Remember you’re not after a one size fits all approach to nutrition.
  • How regularly will I be getting assessed? You need regular assessments to make sure you’re on the right program.
  • How regularly will my program be updated? Anything more than 6 weeks will see your results diminishing.
  • What was the last course you attended, and when was that? A good trainer will have attended a course in the last 12 months.
  • What techniques do you have to make sure that I’m going to stay motivated? The trainer should be able to talk about specific coaching tools that will keep you motivated throughout the program.

By following the guidelines suggested here, you will be in the best position to team up with a personal trainer who will get you to your goals faster. Remember, that you are giving this person authority over your most precious possession, your physical body – make sure they deserve that privilege!

Share your opinion in the comments section. What makes a great personal trainer and what experiences with PT’s have you had – we’d love to know.

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