Choosing a Personal Trainer, how can you tell which one will be any good?

So you've decided to take the plunge. It's time to get a Personal Trainer.

Great, what next? You do a quick search for nearby trainers then select one based on....?

Cheapest? That'll save money...

No? Cheapest isn't always the best? Hmmm.

What about the most expensive then, they must be the best if commanding the most money? No?

It doesn't always work like that? Oh. :O

So that means go for the middle of the road price, that must be a fair deal then?

That isn't the best way to choose a good Personal Trainer either?

The one with the biggest muscles?

The one with the most clients?

THe one that is always working out at the gym?

How am I supposed to know which one to choose?

Ok, that may seem unfair in several ways, not everyone bases the decision based on price - and irrespective of price a Personal Trainer (PT) could still be the best one for your needs.

Whilst you are doing your search (research), check out their qualifications. For example if someone says they are a member of the Register of Exercise Professionals (REPs), then go to the REPs website and check. Look for positive reviews and results from clients.

Feel free to contact the Personal Trainer and ask any questions you have. See if you like how they respond - both what is said and how it is said.

You don't have to limit yourself to the first one you contact. Shop around if you want.

Are they planning on doing a consultation or are they so 'great' that they only need 5 minutes to decide what to do?

This is about you, it can't get more personal than that!

It's about your limitations, your goals, your life. You need a decent consultation.

When you have your consultation how long do they take? Longer is better. Do they just hear a key word or phrase such as 'weight loss' then jump straight in. Or do they take the time to:

  • Go over your past and current illnesses and injuries or medication?
  • ask about your lifestyle (health related e.g. do you drink, smoke, live on take-away food, etc.)
  • Do they ask which types of exercise you like or don't like?
  • Consider your nutrition?
  • Are they listening to you?
  • Are they setting short, medium and long term goals based on what YOU are trying to acheive?
  • Do they do any body movement assessment?
  • Take measurements?
  • Do they make you feel at ease? Let's face it if you aren't comfortable then now would be a good time to make the decision not to work with this person.

OK, so you had a consultation with a Personal Trainer (Woohoo!), you think it all went really well and you are looking forward to your next session (I say 'next session' as it doesn't have to be your first, it could be your 21st or your 43rd, just each 'next session').

At the start of each session does the PT have a plan of what you will be doing?  Does s/he share it with you? Or does it all just seem a bit cobbled together?

If you have some minor problem this session are they able to work around it or even take the time to think about how this could affect your training?

Are they checking what you have been doing since your last session?

Are they taking ongoing assessments of any type?

Are they checking your nutrition?

Are they adapting in any way to meet your goals or just carrying on regardless when it seems there is no hope of achieving them?

I have worked with a lot of PT's in the last year. I have met one brilliant PT, some good PT's and a lot of people that makes me feel bad to have the same job title. One thing I have learned about this industry is that how long you have been a PT is not what makes you good at it.

I've seen PT's pushing every client to take every possible supplement the club sells just so they could make commission.

PT's that regularly stood clients up.

PT's getting people doing exercises with no regard to form (how to perform the exercise safely and correctly) and in one case a 'PT' that told a woman with a double hip replacement to go on the Hip Adductor machine - he set it far too a heavy weight and when his client said she couldn't even move her legs he told her to just use her hands to help! Obviously hadn't missed out the key phrase "I've had a double hip replacement".

I've had a strange introduction to Personal Training. Working in 2 gyms I have seen a lot of instances where  experienced PT's should know better.

I was glad when I finally met a great PT who told me it's not all bad out there. She has worked with other PT's that are very competent and never stand their clients up. etc. Phew! :)

There are many things that could be added to the list. If you think I have missed any of the more major points then please let me know. But in the end, now that you have decided to get yourself a Personal Trainer remember some important points.

1. You are paying for a service. If you don't like the service then stop.

2. You don't have to do every single thing you are told. There is such a thing as Informed consent (think of

it as free will, that will save me lots of typing, it should be explained to you at the consultation) ;)

3. You have made the decision, now get yourself a Personal Trainer. Get committed and get started!