You have decided to join a gym. After perhaps too long deliberating the decision, you have made a choice. From now on you will be more focused on your training, and in order to do so you will join that gym you’ve been meaning to join for some time. But should the investment stop there? You have already subscribed to a membership, or perhaps a pay as you train option, but the opportunity to spend more of your hard-earned money presents itself straight away. The next question is do you need a personal trainer?

Now, there is nothing wrong will placing a value on your health and wellbeing. Indeed, there is nothing wrong in making an investment in it also. The question is rather when should that investment stop, and moreover should you get yourself a personal trainer. In this article we look at ways to identify whether or not you need one, and moreover how to spot a good (and bad) one. Having already made an important lifestyle change, it’s time to consider the next step. Read on for more.

Anyone

Effectively there is no barrier to entry into the profession that is personal trainers. Donning a tracksuit or pair of shorts and hanging out in gyms seems to be enough for some people to merit a relabelling. No longer are they just training for themselves, but they can be a personal trainer to you too – for the right fee of course.

However to be an effective personal trainer is another matter altogether. Knowledge does not come with the badge, it has to be earned. You have to be able to understand physiology, food, diet, exercise, programmes etc. Clients will rarely know what it is they want other than perhaps losing weight or toning up, let alone how to achieve these goals quickly and safely. This is where the effective and professional trainer should come in. It is also the starting place for identifying one that isn’t fit for purpose.

Good trainers invest time and effort into their clients, getting to know them, their weaknesses and strengths and their true goals. They are also genuinely interested in progress being made, rather than just saying “well done” after every session. They realise that true success stories are great adverts for their business and can secure future business. In short, a good personal trainer will care.

A good personal trainer will therefore likely cost more than a bad one – though this isn’t always the case. They’ll be able to charge more because the level of service that they provide is better and they can demonstrate a proven track record. It is possible however to pay a lot, but get little. So here are some good tips to avoid this.

Reflection

Gyms are full of mirrors and that is for a reason. You might think that the reason is for people to look at themselves longingly – and they do. However, the real reason is to ensure that you exercise properly and safely and undertake each exercise using the proper form so as to avoid injury. Nothing stops training like injuries! If your trainer is more interested in their own reflection rather than yours, it is probably time to move on.

Inspired

We all have different preferences when it comes to being inspired and motivated. Your trainer however should be your number one source of inspiration and motivation. In order to achieve this, they will have to get to know you properly. When training, some prefer a military almost “shouty” trainer to push them further, whilst others will prefer gentle encouragement. If the person you hire cannot identify which you need at what point, then ask yourself do they really care? You are paying to be pushed beyond where you alone could reach, how they do this is a direct reflection of their abilities as a trainer. If you feel uninspired, or brow beaten, chances are you have the wrong one!

Mates

Personal trainers are not supposed to be your friend, but that doesn’t mean that they can’t be friendly. There is a fine line to draw between someone who is just chatting to chat, and someone who is getting to know you better so that they can help you along your journey. If you feel like you’ve made a friend, perhaps you have, but it’ll probably mean that you need another trainer too. If you compare their role to that of a doctor or accountant, they advise and assist, but they’re not you friend. Do not blur the boundaries.

Lazy

Obviously the trainer themselves has to show a degree of physical fitness and healthy lifestyle, otherwise how can they help you?! But a lazy trainer means more that someone who doesn’t exercise. It is how they engage you with your workout. For example, you are paying them and therefore you want their input, but if all they do is stick you on a treadmill for the whole session, not just the warmup, isn’t that lazy training and something you could do for yourself? If they seem unimaginative or lazy, start looking elsewhere.

Notes

Your aim is to improve, be it through your weight loss or physical fitness and strength. Your trainer should therefore have a note of the starting points when it comes to each exercise. If they do not know how long it took you to run a mile when you joined the gym, how can they document any progress? If you cannot be seen to be lifting more weight, whilst losing some of your own, how are you going to see the benefits of the investment? In short they should record and chart your progress.

Ideas

You will no doubt have an idea as to what it is that you want to achieve from the gym, but that isn’t enough. If you want to lose weight, how much and over what time. There has to be a structured plan in place with goals and targets clearly identified and variable – changing to match your progress and to encourage further development. This is part of what you pay a trainer for, to devise a plan and to keep it fluidly dynamic and ever changing to ensure that you both get the results that you want and so that your training doesn’t become stale.

Time

Although there’ll be a set period with the trainer at the gym, they should realise that their role does not simply stop and start at the gym door. They have to be thinking about your time away from the gym, your diet and lifestyle choices as well. Indeed, most of the results (positive or negative) will depend on this time simply because it represent so much more of your life. A trainer who only thinks of the times when you are together needs replacing.

Phones

We all have them, and to a degree we are all obsessed with them, but some take this to a whole new level. You’ve probably seen the people at the gym who are more fixated on taken pictures of themselves training rather than the actual training. Furthermore a number of these guilty characters are personal trainers. You have paid for their time so they should not be distracted by other clients or themselves during this period. If they are, call another.

You

The training schedule is yours not theirs, each trainer should be working out away from their clients too. Also, ask yourself how much you know about your trainer and rather how much do they know about you. Really they should know a lot more than you do otherwise who have you been talking about?!

There are good trainers, but then there are many bad ones. Hopefully these tips will help you avoid the latter and find the former. The best place to start is probably through previous clients, look for honest and open reviews, and speak to others who have used the trainer you are thinking of. Did they have the goals that you are now looking to achieve yourself, or were their needs different? Finally perhaps the best thing to do is to try a few different trainers whilst being honest about the fact that you are indeed shopping around. Your health matters and you are already investing in it mentally, physically and financially. It is wise therefore that all of your decisions be informed ones and wherever possible correct ones. Good luck.

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