I think this is where I’m supposed to say certain things that you hear all the time when looking for a personal trainer who will finally get those results you’ve been after for years!
Find a trainer who has a similar personality to you so that you know you’ll get on well and have fun.
Find a trainer who is well-qualified and has lots of certificates to prove they’re good at they’re job.
Find a trainer who will give you lots of friendly motivation so that you stay on track.
These points are all partly valid but realistically, unless they are a complete moron, most personal trainers will fit the bill! The unfortunate truth is that there is a huge gulf between the top trainers who can guarantee rapid and long-lasting results for you, and the £25 per hour glorified fitness instructor you find in the local gym.
I actually detest having to call myself a personal trainer these days but that is what people ‘Google’ when they are in need of a health and fitness professional who can design and hold them accountable for implementing, a highly effective exercise and nutrition program. I’ve seen trainers in commercial gyms who actually take pleasure in telling their colleagues that they don’t like training themselves.
Similarly, you can often see these people (who are supposedly responsible for encouraging others to live healthy lifestyles) out getting blind drunk every weekend. With this in mind, here’s a checklist for you when choosing a ‘personal trainer’ to get you the body composition, energy levels, health and physical abilities you want!
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Any trainer worth their salt should have a comprehensive list of testimonials.
These should include before and after photos (from those willing to have them taken) and written reports on how the trainer conducts their business and achieves great results for with their clients. Unless they have been working for less than 3 months, any good trainer will be able to provide at least four or five such testimonials.
A high-calibre personal trainer will have taken the time to develop nutrition and training systems based on their extensive and ongoing research and professional development.
These systems should have proven science and real-world application to back them up but also be flexible to work around your individual needs.
As the proverb goes, there is more than one way to skin a cat and so whilst the trainer should have proven methods they use as foundations, can they adapt these systems to ensure great results for you if you have specific, unique requirements such as food allergies, physical disability or injury and time constraints?
Gone are the days of the personal trainer who would show you how to do a press up correctly then proceed to beast you for an hour!
Today’s top-end trainers have a range of talents including advanced exercise program design, strength and conditioning expertise, detailed nutrition know-how, knowledge of hormone optimization, kinetic chain assessment capabilities and mindset techniques to name a few. You simply cannot rely on someone who knows how to make you sweat lots but is lost when you walk in with a niggling hamstring or aching lower back because they have no clue how to help correct it there and then!
Clearly at times a referral to a chiropractor, osteopath and the like is necessary but an expert trainer will have a detailed knowledge of muscle release and therapy techniques which may save you hours and hundreds of pounds in visits to other health and fitness professionals.
The unfortunate truth is that often the so-called health professionals are too focused on an individual area or ‘effect’ and are unable to see the wood for the trees and identify what the cause is.
Your trainer should be able to take a ‘whole-istic’ approach to your health and fitness and be able to react to whatever you throw at them!
The ability to listen and observe
Often in consultations for personal training services, the prospective client sits there for 30 minutes listening to the trainer reel off how great they are and what the client requires without taking the time to actually listen.
The key to a great consultation is rooting down to the emotional reasons why you have sought out help.
Often you yourself won’t even know this until someone takes the time to help you look into your own mind! However, once you are clear as to exactly what you want to achieve, when, and the emotional reasons why, your chances of succeeding in hitting your goals will sky-rocket! I call this ‘peeling the onion’! Saying you want to ‘lose a bit of weight’ is the very outer layer of the onion. Deep down we can find exactly how much you want to lose and why you must achieve this to be happy. Sometimes your real goal isn’t actually what you thought when you first sat down!
This attention to detail about your mindset is critical and must also carry on into every session. Your trainer should observe carefully how you are feeling, looking and talking at each session as what they had planned may no longer be suitable given your mood and emotional state. For instance, even if you like really hard workouts, if you’re highly stressed that day, a killer session could send you over the edge and so isn’t appropriate for that day.
Does the trainer personally inspire you either with their own physique, achievements in their chosen sport or just their general attitude to health and fitness.
If they don’t, they aren’t going to have the ability to push you to ‘get back on the horse’ when you’re having a bad day (we all get them!). They should also not be the kind of person to accept excuses. You know that you need someone who will keep you accountable for progressing on a daily basis so make sure they have the strength of character to not accept your excuses and keep you on the straight and narrow!
Approach to results
It is actually remarkably simple to get rapid fat loss results. However, does the trainer know how to do this AND set you up for a long and healthy life through optimizing every aspect of your exercise and nutrition habits.
Most trainers are unable to see past the body composition factor that, whilst vital, must be part of a bigger picture to prevent you ending up worse off than you did in the first place. Is your trainer really health and fitness expert or just a few brain cells ahead of a fad diet that promises little other than a short-lived loss of a few pounds?
Does your trainer have an education plan for themselves which will guarantee the service they provide to you will always be at the cutting edge and continue to improve week by week? Reading a few articles each week is no enough. They must continually invest in themselves through seminars, internships with experts at the top of their respective fields and study of scientific research.
Part time instructor or fitness business?
Many trainers are part time instructors who ‘enjoy’ helping people out with their exercise goals.
This is like a doctor who just does a few appointments each week because they like helping people get rid of the flu. It’s also the reason personal trainers as a species often don’t get the respect they deserve from the medical profession and other industry bodies.
Does your trainer have a range of products and services which illustrate their knowledge and ability to get results for people from all walks of life? Have they written books, seminars and workshops which they deliver on a regular basis? If not, question why. Do they not have the confidence in their own abilities, in which case, how can they expect you to?
Finally, can the trainer encompass all of the above and offer a money-back guarantee on their services?
If they have a well-structured consultation process which identifies and plans for goals which mean the world to you, and they have all the knowledge and systems to carry that plan through, they should have no qualms in offering a money-back guarantee.
Obviously you will need to hold up your end of the deal and put every element of the plan into action. This way they won’t have to worry that you’re not following instructions and you won’t have to worry that it may not work like all the other plans you tried! Hopefully this gives you an idea of how to go about choosing a trainer who will finally help you achieve your own personal goals.