Tips on picking a personal trainer

So you’ve decided to make the commitment and get a personal trainer to oversee your nutrition and exercise. Or perhaps you just want to look around and see whether a personal trainer is right for you. Either way, finding a personal trainer is an incredibly… personal decision. A PT who is right for your friend may not be right for you. So what should you look for in a personal trainer?

How do I find a PT and what should I be looking for?

Personal trainers either operate out of a gym or studio, work from home, or do a mix of both. If you’re a gym member, there are usually profile boards around the gym you can check, or you can ask the personal training manager (who can also give advice . If you’re not a gym member, ask your friends and family if they know anyone or search online for personal trainers in your area. Many trainers will have a bit of info about them already available, if not, give them a call or email to find out more.

Think about what you want out of this person. Do you want them to give you nutritional advice? Do you want to lose weight or gain weight? What times are you/they available to train? How long do their sessions go for? Do you want to travel to get to them, or would you rather train out of your own home? What is your budget? Would you prefer a male or female trainer?

Knowing the answers to these questions will help you figure out what your ideal trainer would look like. There’s little point booking in with a PT who specialises in training men for power lifting if you’re a woman who just wants to shape up a bit. Granted, the trainer will likely still be able to help, but wouldn’t you rather go to someone who works on a daily basis with people who want the same results you do?

Once you’ve narrowed down your selection, it’s time to book them in.

Arrange to meet up with them

If you have difficulty matching a suitable time with the trainer to meet up, take this as a sign they might be too busy to train you at the times you are free. Some trainers will offer a free consultation, a free first workout, or even both. Take advantage of these free initial services if they provide them as they will help you figure out whether the PT is right for you.

Your first consultation

When you meet up with them, you’re looking for two key things. Number 1: Do you think you could get along with this trainer on a regular basis? Number 2: Are they interested in you?

You’ll be seeing a lot of your PT, and they will need to know things about your energy levels, any health problems, what you’ve eaten – things you may not feel comfortable sharing. Would you be okay with this person wrapping a tape measure around your waist or seeing your results on a set of scales? If their voice irritates you, your personalities don’t match up or you just get the general feeling they won’t be able to motivate you, it’s time to move on.

As for the interest side of things, they should give you a bit of information about themselves, but the majority of the consultation should be about you. Your key health and exercise goals, your fitness background, what you’re currently doing, any injuries or medical conditions you have. You should also discuss what exercise you enjoy (and what exercise you hate!), how much time you have available to help achieve your goals, who’s supporting you, whether you need nutrition help, and what your budget is.

Your first training session

It’s best to schedule a one-off session first to make absolutely sure this is the trainer you want, before you go buying a package deal of 20 sessions. Training with someone you don’t enjoy exercising with can easily put you off, so it’s important to get it right when picking your PT.

During the session, check that their attention is on you (not on the other people in the gym, and not on their cellphone!). It’s normal for trainers to help you reposition body parts that aren’t in the right place during exercise, so if you don’t do well with other people touching you – it may sound odd, but it can be an issue! – make sure you let them know in advance. They should assess your movements as you go and make corrections/adjustments if anything is too difficult or hurts. They should ask you at the beginning of the session how hard you want to be pushed.

Speak up if you have any questions throughout the session or if things aren’t going as you’d like. If their normal philosophy is to train clients hard by pushing them until they feel sick and you didn’t want that, you need to make it known!

If all is good, go for it!

If all the above has gone well, your potential trainer has passed! All that’s left for you to do is book in training times with them and select your payment option. If you’re serious about PT sessions, some trainers will do discounts on bulk session purchase or multiple sessions within the same week.

Know all your options and check what their philosophy is on cancellations/rescheduling for future reference. Never cancel on your trainer at the last minute unless you actually need to; remember that it will likely be too late for them to fill your spot which means they may charge you the full amount for the session (you wouldn’t like waiting around for a wasted hour between training sessions with your other clients because one person cancelled, would you?).

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