Tip of the Week: How to choose a Personal Trainer

Find your Coach

This is a great question and one I am asked all the time.

There's a lot of hype out there (I'm looking at you, Instagram) with unachievable or even fake before and after pics, wild claims that sound too good to be true and one-size-fits-all, cookie-cutter approaches. It's easy to get caught up in it. Unfortunately, there are no shortcuts to good health.

Having a personal trainer or coach that is dedicated to you, your needs and goals, is one of the best ways to help you get results. They look after you, they help keep you motivated, they make sure you're doing the right things and they make it fun. But it can be hard to work out who is right for you.

Looking for a trainer can seem a bit daunting. You're putting yourself in a vulnerable position, trusting another person with your health.

I've put together a step-by-step guide to help in your search.

Step 1: Work out what your needs are

  • Ask yourself about your goals
  • Think about why you have chosen that goal specifically
  • Think about how you get motivated
  • What do you want to achieve and what do you need help with

For example:

Are you looking for someone who can help you with nutrition advice?

Are you new to training or are you already a seasoned gym-goer?

Do you need someone to give you a good kick up the butt or are you after a more supportive environment?

Side note: trainers should know when to push you while still being supportive, it's all about what type of environment you're after.

Once you've got some answers to these questions, you're ready for research.

Step 2: Research

Ask your network for recommendations and then look these up online.

Google the crap out of it. Search for trainers and coaches in your area.

Step 3: The Shortlist

Take your answers from Step 1 and apply these like a filter to what you see online. Check the websites to work out what their training philosophy is and, if you like, look at reviews.

Are they using language that suits your needs? For example, aggressive vs soothing, do they talk about what level their clients are at etc

Look at their qualifications and experience.

First, if you're in the UK, they MUST have their Level 3 PT Diploma.

Continuing education is also essential. Have they demonstrated that they are participating in other courses? Do they have experience in other areas of health and wellness like working with a clinic or having worked as a coach with athletes?

The science in our field moves very fast and if you are not continuously expanding your knowledge, you will get left behind and may be using out-dated techniques.

If anything you need to know isn't clear, don’t be afraid to ask.

Step 4: Consultations

Once you have narrowed your list down to a handful or less, get in touch with them to have a chat and arrange a consultation or introduction.

Again, think about how you’re motivated. From the earliest discussions, it should be very clear what type of engagement the trainer has with their clients. Does it suit you? Feel free to ask plenty of questions like how they keep someone like you motivated. You will figure out quite quickly if you have a good rapport with them or not. 

How thorough is the consultation? Are they referring to the form you filled out? Asking you questions? Are they paying attention and listening?

Side note - if you don’t tell them the things they need to know, like injuries and other constraints, it will make it very hard to progress! Keep those lines of communication open at all times.

Is the trainer someone you feel can and will inspire you? Do they walk the walk not just talk the talk? They should be a shining example of good health, full of vitality.

Honesty is also something to look out for. Are they making claims and guarantees that sound too good to be true?

A good trainer will tell you when they are not qualified to do something you have asked and will point you in the right direction to someone who is. For example, PTs aren’t necessarily physios but should be able to say when your question goes beyond their remit and be able to help you find a referral. 

Step 5: Give it a go

Once you have found someone you feel comfortable with, who ticks the boxes, give it a go.

If you aren’t happy, if it doesn’t feel right, speak to them about it. Feedback is very important and most trainers should welcome it and work to find a solution.

Sometimes though, it just isn’t the right fit so don’t feel bad about changing and trying someone else. If it doesn't feel right then it's very likely you won't enjoy it and your motivation will suffer. That isn't going to help you get results!

Lastly, don't forget that you get out what you put in. The trainer can only be as good as your attitude allows. If you're not making an effort to listen and learn, paying attention to your body, giving it your all and making the most of the time you have with them, then there's no point having a trainer.

I would love to hear what else you look for in your trainer. If you would like to join in, tap on the button and jump to the quiz!

To all my PT peers, I would love to hear from you too! Drop me a line any time.

Grace xx