3 Things to Bear in Mind When Choosing a Personal Trainer

Make sure you pick a good personal trainer

Make sure you pick a good personal trainer

With the explosion of the fitness industry in recent years, many more people have taken on the help of a personal trainer to help them shape up and get in better health. This article will give you three major things to bear in mind if you decide to look for a personal trainer. I hope to help anyone who reads this know what they need to look out for, so they do not get shafted by a cowboy PT.

During a consultation with a personal trainer, you should do most of the talking

When I started out as a PT, I often made the mistake of talking too much. I would get to the end of a consultation and realise that I had not listened to enough of what my potential client had said. There were often many questions I had racing through my mind after the meeting, and I would not get people off to nearly as good a start.

A consultation should be a good experience for both client and trainer. A client should be able to tell their story; they should be able to speak freely about why they are in their current situation, why they are looking for coaching and what their goals, hopes and dreams are. A trainer should shut their mouth, listen and start thinking about how best to help the client.

If you ever go to a consultation and the PT literally does not stop talking you should RUN. A. MILE. If the PT talks when they should be listening it is a major red flag. It is a common mistake made by people in the fitness industry. It also does not bode well for future sessions with that trainer for the client.

I remember witnessing a session once where a client had her first proper session with a trainer and could not get a word in edgeways. As a result, she was being worked dangerously close to overwhelm on an exercise that was way too advanced for her. 

I was staggered.

The poor woman left red-faced, deflated and looked like she was going to burst into tears. That is not how someone should leave a session. If the trainer actually cares about the wellbeing and happiness of their client this will never happen - it is impossible for a trainer to do that if they are constantly talking and never listening.

So, if you ever go into a consultation and the PT is an insufferable oaf with a motormouth, look elsewhere.

I laughed HARD at this...I love Urban Dictionary

I laughed HARD at this...I love Urban Dictionary

Be wary of movement assessments and “corrective exercise”

There are all sorts of different tests that personal trainers can do. They can test your balance, joint range of motion, proprioception, strength, fitness and many more things. A lot of these tests, such as seeing if you can do a bodyweight squat, are totally legitimate and provide valuable information to the PT – information that will help them craft a better training plan for you.

However…things can get a bit murky.

Does the PT claim that they can predict your injury risk with a movement screening? If yes, take it with a pinch of salt. Just kidding, RUN A MILE. They cannot do any such thing.

Even the best-known movement screen out there has been shown to be unreliable and meaningless for the average person. And, as an aside, if you are going to a PT for weight loss, a movement screening to identify potential injuries is a waste of your time and irrelevant to the result you seek to achieve. Your time (and money!) could be better spent elsewhere, like mastering the bear crawl.

Does the PT use loads of complex language and buzzwords like “core stability”, “muscle imbalance”, “postural correction”? If yes, run a mile. No…wait…run two miles away from them.

If they use these words when screening your movements it is likely they do so because then they can try and sell you their “corrective exercise programme”. This is a huge red flag and suggests that a PT does not have the best interests of their client at heart, and I will illustrate why with the following example. A PT might tell a client that working on their core stability will cause their back pain to disappear. This is not true and, as a result, unethical. It gives the client the false idea that their body is fragile, unstable and prone to being damaged easily – this is the opposite of what any PT that cares about their clients should want.

These are things that might happen if personal trainers overstep their professional boundaries. If they start nitpicking the way you move around and are constantly trying to “fix” things they fall into the realm of the pseudo-physiotherapist.

And, again, if you took on a PT to help you lose weight…what relevance does anything like that have? If you have pain or are worried about things like posture, see a good physiotherapist.

They give you realistic expectations

The most well-known way of goal-setting

The most well-known way of goal-setting

As a client making an investment, you want to make sure that you get what you pay for. Personal training is a results-based business. Followed everything your trainer has asked of you, got documentation to prove that and still not got the result? Ask for your money back.

This whole headache can be prevented, however, if you and your coach are working towards realistic goals. If you are told you can lose massive amounts of weight at the drop of a hat and be bouncing out of bed at 6am every morning with enough energy to run a marathon, your trainer might be over-exaggerating.

If you set realistic goals that you hit, such as 0.5-1 kilo per week weight loss, and a 1 minute improvement in your 10k time, you avoid being hugely disappointed and hitting these goals will pave the way to greater things. 

A good PT should open your eyes to your potential. Every human has the potential to be strong, happy, lean, healthy and energetic. You probably could achieve amazing things if you invest in personal training with a good coach, and I hope you do if that is the case.  

These three things to remember can help you make an informed decision when choosing a personal trainer to spend your hard-earned cash on. I hope you found this post useful.