Choose wisely my friends…..there are many, many Personal Trainers out there now. So many more than when i first started. And like in any industry, some are better than others. So here are a few guidelines to help you choose the right one for you:
1.QUALIFICATIONS – They must have at least the basic Personal Trainer qualification. This is what we call a Level 3 qualification – it means that they should understand how to adapt exercise to suit their client and their client’s needs. The human body is a complex organism and this qualification gives us the basic information to train a client. It does not make your trainer a specialist – further training would be required for this. Beware of trainers who call themselves ‘specialists’ – do they have further extensive training in one field; do they have experience in this field? The same with ‘experts’ – check them out, do not assume
2.EXPERIENCE – All the qualifications in the world mean little without practical application. Humans are all different. As trainers, we should learn from our clients. And from other trainers. Any trainer can tell you how to perform an exercise. Anyone can look online and find new and exciting exercises. Choose a trainer who has worked with people like YOU before; clients who want the same aims. But also somebody who has worked with lots of other, DIFFERENT people, someone who has proved that they can adapt exercises to suit their clients. Many newly qualified (and some experienced!) trainers give the same programmes to all their clients. If you are going to go to a trainer who does this, then save your money, and go to group exercise instead!
3.OBSERVE THEM – preferably when they don’t know you are watching! Even if they pass 1 & 2 it doesn’t mean that they are a great trainer, and I personally think you deserve a great trainer. Are they watching and coaching their client while the exercises are being performed? Are they really? Or are they just going through the motions? If they are really watching the client then they won’t be looking the client in the eyes the whole time. They will be changing position so that they can better see how the exercises are being performed. They will be moving around the client, maybe gently guiding the client’s movement. They will be totally engaged in what their client is doing.
4.LISTEN – we all need motivation when exercising but if your trainer is just pushing you on with no other guidance, then just get your mate to come along and cheer you on! You should be receiving feedback on your movements. EVERYONE needs feedback, even trainers need feedback on their training. Are they just counting while you are performing the exercises? If all they do is count, then really, just get an App on your phone. This is NOT personal training. You should be receiving feedback on how you are performing the movements. PERSONAL feedback for you. Not generic – sit back, push here, bend knees, stand tall, engage abs – kind of feedback – although you will need some of this to get you started in the movements. For example: step ups on box – your trainer should be able to see HOW you are stepping up on the box – are you pushing through the lead leg and standing tall – this shows that your glutes, posterior chain and core are coping adequately with the exercise; or are you dragging yourself up by rounding your back and pulling your shoulders up? If it’s the last one, then this exercise should be changed or removed from your programme at this time. Again, number 3, WATCH them training others.
5.QUESTION – Remember the Personal Trainer Award qualification briefly covers many subjects, giving basic knowledge on things like nutrition and posture. If these are things that you are interested in changing then find a trainer who has further qualifications in these subjects. ASK your trainer questions about the choices that they make for you. Consider how you FEEL when doing an exercise. This also applies in classes – do not just blindly follow what you are told. If something feels wrong then it probably is! Maybe your technique is wrong – this shouldn’t (but can) happen in PT, this is much more likely to happen in a class where one instructor is leading a large group of people. Our bodies are very good at performing movements that may look right but we are feeling it in the wrong place – this is often due to compensations in movement, something that can happen from holding positions for long periods of time, repetitive movement, poor posture, injury. Most people have some kind of compensation. Does your trainer understand this? If you have a desk job or hold a posture for a long period of time – standing, moving in a certain way repetitively, then it is highly likely that you will have compensations. THINK about how the exercises feel to you.
6.GET A PROFESSIONAL ASSESSMENT BEFORE YOU START – Everyone would benefit from a Biomechanical assessment before they start training, so that they know what their strengths and weaknesses are; and what compensations they have developed, what postural issues they need to take into consideration. This assessment could be the difference between training with great results or getting injured. Sadly, this step is often overlooked.
I know a number of lovely people who have trainers who wouldn’t pass 3,4 or 5. But they love the personalty of these trainers. They enjoy their time with them. That still has value. Why don’t you get Biomechanically assessed and then YOU will know your areas that need attention, your limitations. You will then have that extra information, plus exercises and techniques that you can use, and still see your favourite trainer.
Be safe people Love your body.