7 Point Checklist for Finding Your Perfect Personal Trainer
So it’s come to a time where you have decided that your results have come to a juddering halt and you are interested in getting some high value, top quality personal training to give you that fire back and blast through that plateau!
The fitness industry is booming in 2017 and more and more trainers are entering this amazing industry by the day. Unfortunately not all personal trainers are of an equal standard (despite what your gym might tell you), but how are you supposed to know if the trainer stood in front of you is more Charles Poliquin and less White Goodman?
The most important part of any successful relationship whether it be romantic, friendship or professional relies on two personalities matching. You’re going to potentially invest a lot of time and money in this person, you definitely won’t want to make the mistake of investing in someone you can’t stand being around. You need to be able to trust a trainer and feel like you can be completely honest with them, not fear the session due to knowing there are going to be many periods of awkward silence.
There will be many phenomenal trainers in the world that you won’t click with. This doesn’t necessarily mean they are a bad trainer however, it just means they are not your perfect trainer.
2. Are they a Coach or Trainer?
Anyone can be a trainer (cheerleader), but it takes real skill to become a good coach (someone who gets results).
The next time you go to the gym take a little more time; get your session done, but pay close attention to what the trainers around you are doing.
On the gym floor you can get a good indication of whether they are good at what they do. Do they really engage and seem interested in the conversation with their client… It seems ridiculous, but you would be surprised by the amount of trainers who aren’t.
Can you see and hear them coaching a client through a set… shouting “GO, UP, LIFT!” is not coaching, that’s cheerleading… “Shoulders back, spine tall, abs braced, knees soft, knees tracking toes, squeeze the muscle, lower it slowly”, are all potential terms that would indicate they are coaching.
Is the client given adequate rest periods or are they just being absolutely beasted? Sweating profusely and feeling sick is not necessarily a sign of a good session. Equally, is the client being pushed hard enough or are they just having an hour long chat? This one comes with an approach with caution though, as I’ve worked with clients before who openly said that they were more looking for someone that can take an ear bashing as they throw all of their life problems at whilst making them move a little… but generally 95% of the time people go to PT’s to get results.
3. Always ask the trainer what does their product include?
Most personal trainers you will meet are self employed and as such, offer a service/product termed “Personal Training”.
Personal training is so much more than just turning up and doing a one off one hour session. I have unfortunately worked around some terrible trainers that offer very little more than a once per week beasting, to which the client walks out drenched in sweat and feeling like they’ve trained hard. Only to see this same person two months down the line having achieved nothing in terms of an improvement in their physique.
This is NOT personal training!
If what I’ve described above is what your current training sounds like with your trainer; unfortunately you’ve got a tough conversation that needs to be had… you’re being ripped off!
Nutritional guidance, movement screening, training programme design, weekly/biweekly/monthly measurements or check ins and constant support on top of the individual 1 hour sessions come with any respectable trainers product.
4. Do they walk the walk as well as talking the talk?
Personally I have a brochure which is accessible at all times to all prospective clients should they wish to view it, as I am proud of my product and the great value I can offer them. Every trainer worth their salt should feel the same way! If they don’t have various success stories or transformation photos readily available for you as a potential client to view then it usually means one of two things: 1) They’re new to the industry, so they’re probably still learning and it may take time to develop their product to the stage where they achieve these transformations… so for you it’s a gamble. Or 2) They just really don’t know what they’re doing (cheerleader).
So, do your research before investing! Do they have their own website? Are they producing excellent valuable content for free? Do they look the part in a sense of do they live a lifestyle and look a way that you would determine as healthy and desirable?
5. What are they qualified in?
Following on from point 4 in that it will take a bit of research after finding out the answer, but ask the trainer you’re interested in working with what they’re qualified in. Once you’ve found this out, break it down with them as to why they did each of them and what they learnt within the course, then go away and perform your own research in to the credibility of these courses/qualifications.
A trainer with 5 qualifications that are specific to their specialist areas is going to be a better trainer for you than a trainer with 15 qualifications that have no relevance to anything your training will relate to.
A trainer can “pad-out” their profile/CV and make themselves stand out on the board of trainers because they have the longest list of qualifications. But if one of these qualifications cost them £20 and taught them how to dance with monkeys, it’s probably not going to benefit you is it?
6. The sale on top of the sale
So you’ve gone through the process of watching trainers around the gym, you’ve spoken to a few, gone through your master consultation and you’ve picked your guy/girl. Signed up, received all of your documents and what’s this? A magical list of supplements, all of which are coincidentally manufactured by the same company with little instruction as to why they should be taken. Just here’s a code, buy buy buy. All before they’ve even seen what your diet consists of.
Supplements are there to SUPPLEMENT your diet. How could a trainer possibly inform you of your supplement programme before they know what you are lacking within your nutrition intake?
Now I must point out there are a few exceptions to this rule, as naturally us Londoners are pretty useless at getting in certain nutrients (Vitamin D specifically, as this year the weather has been pants and generally the average person under consumes protein), so it can be anticipated that you will be deficient/under your target. But as eluded to above, you are paying them for their time and it ultimately comes down to you as to what you do with this time… so ask questions! If they do provide you with a supplement list right off the bat, question why you would need each one and what in particular it will do for your body… If they can’t justify or explain thoroughly why they’ve promoted a product to you then 1) Don’t buy it. Or; 2) You can’t trust them, so get a refund and begin the cycle again. Otherwise this £600 initial investment has all of a sudden become £720 and you’ve got no idea what any of the extra £120 actually does.
So you’ve just made it through your first month of training with a PT, you think progress is good and you’re getting fitter/stronger, but this is a vitally important time for when finding out if this guy/girl is the perfect trainer or not.
For a good trainer, one month is a perfect window of time to achieve some pretty big results. To go from being sedentary/doing very little in the gym to moving 4-5 times a week and eating nutritious meals will change the average persons body enormously. But how are you as the consumer or me as the trainer supposed to know exactly what’s happened if I don’t take measurements and take you through a structured review/assessment procedure?
I personally each month go through 21 individual tests with each client that are measurable (weight, circumference measurements, blood pressure, resting heart rate, body fat testing, flexibility/mobility tests, balance tests and CV/Muscular endurance tests). This along with sitting down for 10-15 mins to discuss the results, discuss how they feel the month has gone on the whole, address the previous months short term goals and to set new ones and then to wrap up take some progress photos (case dependant). Now I know my route is thorough, in depth and takes up the majority of a one hour session, but come the end of it I have a detailed record of exactly how my client has progressed over time, so should anything change or something were to not quite work for a month, we can always refer back to what did. It allows me to make alterations to their training programmes depending on what is now a weakness.
Furthermore, it will also help you as the customer to remain accountable knowing that your review is coming up in x number of weeks.
A top trainer will perform their own variation of this on their own time scale (every fortnight/every month/every six weeks etc.). A great trainer will interpret these results and sometimes have to have stern difficult conversations with you, if these results don’t go the way they should/could have done, because they believe in their product, want the best and believe you can achieve the best.
Trust me, you want a trainer that can have this type of conversation with you over the ‘yeah you’re doing great, keep paying my mortgage and I’ll tell you you’re brilliant even though you’re not progressing’ kind of trainer.
Absolute no go’s
To finish off here are a few examples of behaviour I’ve genuinely seen from trainers at various locations I’ve either trained in or worked in, to which you should absolutely avoid these types of people:
- Using the mirrors to check their hair or guns more than focusing on what the client is actually doing.
- They only ever seem to be the ones talking. May be an indication that they’re constantly talking about themselves… remember, as the client, be selfish. The hour is literally all about you, not them!
- They keep using their phone during sessions.
- Getting their abs out in front of their client. No seriously, don’t laugh, this does happen! #tools
- Getting a little too cosy and touchy with their clients… If you catch my drift.
- Walking round with a face like they’re at a funeral. They just shouldn’t be trainers full stop.
- Not willing to help people unless they are being paid. Imagine working with them for an extended period of time… no thank you!
To conclude, the most important aspect to finding the personal trainer that is right for you is to take your time. You may have a new found rush of enthusiasm and a need to get fit and want to capitalise on this feeling right away, but just think… One rushed decision could lead to that enthusiasm bubble bursting and never returning again.
There are many trainers that will cost you hundreds of pounds, but there are few special ones out there that will make that same figure feel like it was a worthwhile investment.
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Yours in health.