7 Factors to Consider when Choosing a Personal Trainer

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It is a big decision to hire a personal trainer.  It signifies that you are finally ready to prioritise your health and do what it takes to achieve your fitness goals. If weight loss is your goal, it means that you realise that the cost of personal training is relatively modest compared to the cost of weight loss surgery.  But how do you go about choosing a personal trainer?

  1. Is your Personal Trainer a Member of the Register of Exercise Professionals?

Paramount in the decision is ensuring that you find a trainer who is properly qualified.  The UK Register of Exercise Professionals is an independent public register that provides a system of regulation for personal trainers to ensure that they meet the health and fitness industry's agreed national occupations standards. Membership of REPs provides assurance and confidence to consumers that all registered exercise professionals are appropriately qualified and have the knowledge, competence and skills to perform specific roles. Members are bound by a Code of Ethical Conduct and hold appropriate public liability insurance. In order to remain on the Register, members must continue to meet the standards that are set for their profession through Continual Professional Development (CPD).

  1. Do they specialise in achieving your specific fitness goal?

A lot of personal trainers try to be a "jack of all trades" when in reality fitness is a very wide-ranging field. The expertise required to achieve results for a man interested in bodybuilding, for example, is very different to that required to achieve sustainable weight loss. A personal trainer who specialises in the area of your specific goal is far better placed to achieve the results you are looking for.

  1. Does your Personal Trainer have a strong track record of achieving results?

The ultimate proof that a personal trainer will get you results is whether they have done so for other clients looking to achieve similar goals.  Look to see whether a personal training website contains testimonials of real life success stories.  A successful personal trainer should be happy for you to chat to previous clients about their experiences of personal training and how it helped them achieve their goals.

  1. Do they offer nutritional advice?

Whatever your fitness goal, it is impossible to achieve optimum results without paying careful attention to your nutrition.  A good personal trainer will offer appropriate nutritional advice to ensure that you achieve your goal.  The best personal training services will also include regular monitoring and feedback on your nutrition via a food diary process.  As revealed by the current Channel 4 series "Secret Eaters", we often have poor self-awareness of our eating habits and a food diary can be instrumental in revealing distorted perceptions of what we consume.

  1. How comprehensive is their personal training package?

Your personal trainer should design a bespoke exercise programme to follow in your own time.  This should be tailored to achieve your specific goals, and adapted to your personal circumstances and preferences for training - whether at home, outdoors or in the gym.  Weight loss specialist personal trainers should also closely monitor changes to your body composition rather than focussing solely on weight itself.  This will ensure that the weight you lose in predominantly due to a reduction in bodyfat, rather than a loss of water and muscle mass, as is often the case with dangerous liquid based diets such as Lighter Life and the Cambridge Diet Plan.  The best personal training services will also provide "Before and After" photographs which offer powerful motivation to maintain healthy lifestyle changes once you start seeing results.

  1. Do they have clear terms and conditions?

Your personal trainer should clearly state the terms and conditions of the personal training service.  Personal training is a serious commitment and you should expect the terms and conditions to reflect this. For example, be wary of "pay-as-you-go" personal training sessions.  A trainer who does not demand a commitment of a minimum number of sessions for their clients is far less likely to offer the same level of service, since they have no guarantee that they will ever see the client again! Similarly, just as you would for a dentist or physiotherapist, expect to provide notice of at least 24 hours to change or cancel an appointment, since your session time would otherwise be available to other clients.  If a personal trainer does not apply such conditions, it may be an indication that they are not a full-time professional.

  1. Will we get on?

Last but definitely not least, how confident can you be that you will develop a rapport with your personal trainer?  After all, this is PERSONAL training - it is crucial that you establish a positive relationship with your personal trainer to be motivated to achieve results.  There are various ways to get an insight into your trainer's personality and ethos - through website testimonials, speaking with previous clients, or attending their group exercise classes.  For weight loss goals, an important consideration is also whether the trainer has the life experience to understand the psychology of weight problems.  For example, a young male trainer may have strong expertise in fitness instruction but may struggle to empathise with a stressed forty-something professional woman seeking to lose over three stones.

 
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