Using a personal trainer is, as the name suggests, very ‘personal’. It has to be absolutely right for you if the relationship is to work well. So it pays to get your thinking right – right at the start.
Here are the questions we think you should be asking …
1 – Where do they work?
There are essentially THREE locations where you’ll find personal trainers:
- In your local gym – these guys are usually (though not always) employed by the gym and working with personal training clients is a great way to boost their often very low basic salaries. We have nothing against this as it is where we all started! But you may find that the trainers here may be less experienced than you’d find elsewhere – it’s certainly worth asking what level of qualification they have achieved and how many years of experience they have.
- Travelling to clients’ houses – this is a great option if you have a training space in your home or office and it’s the option that takes up the least amount of your time. However, the equipment used is likely to be a lot more limited, and bear in mind that the cost involved will need to take into account the time the trainer loses in travelling between clients.
- Or in a bespoke personal training environment – you are more likely to find better-qualified and more experienced trainers in this type of environment as it offers proper career progression and development. The range of training equipment will be wide, plus you won’t be sharing the space with dozens of people pounding it out on the treadmill!
2 – What are their qualifications?
- The most basic level for Personal Trainers is REPS (Register of Exercise Professionals) level 2 – but you need to look for at least a Level 3 trainer. REPS now takes trainers up to Level 4 which allows Personal Trainers to become much more specialist in their training, with options such as Cardiovascular Disease; Back Pain; Strength and Conditioning.
- In addition, you are likely to find the most committed trainers have studied a whole range of other fitness disciplines, including Degrees and Diplomas in Sports Science, CHEK Institute qualifications and many others. This will tell you a lot about how committed your trainer is as a professional.
- Whoever you choose, make sure you find out how how committed they are to ongoing training and development, as well as their commitment to fitness and well-being generally, as this is undoubtedly what defines the passionate professional versus the base level ‘gym dude’.
3 – Do they have the right specific skills that YOU need?
- You need to find a trainer that will understand what YOU need specifically. If you have a serious back or knee injury; if you are recovering from an illness; are pregnant; need to lose weight; or whatever.
- You need to be certain that your trainer has the interest and know-how to help you specifically; especially regards designing your programme overall and specific exercise choices.
4 – Are they right personality fit for you?
- A big part of the trainer’s role is to motivate and support you. We all know how easy it is to arrive on day one full of beans and determination – but it’s harder X months into the plan to maintain that level of commitment … unless you have the right trainer of course. Which is precisely WHY personal training works.
- However, we are all different and we all respond well to different things. For some people it may be a softly-softly approach, for others it might be the pointed stick! Or perhaps a bit of both. You need to get this sorted out up front and think carefully what it is you are looking for from your trainer and whether their style will suit you.
- Ask questions like… What happens if I plateau or seem to get stuck? What would you do to keep me motivated?
5 – Do they get results?
Ultimately, this is the only one that counts. Which means you need to either talk to some of their existing clients – the preferred option – or at the very least, check out what it says about them on their web page. This is likely to be VERY revealing.
And one BIG question for you … how much are YOU prepared to commit?
Having a Personal Trainer is about being in a team – and both of you have to play your part. So, however good the trainer might be, ultimately YOU have to take responsibility for the outcomes in your life – no-one else can do it for you.
So be really honest with yourself about things like …
- Will you always turn up?
- Will you do the ‘homework’ your trainer suggests; such as stretching every day, keeping a food diary or keeping to a food programme?
- How much additional effort are you prepared to put in outside of the gym?