We all know the benefits of having a personal trainer – they motivate you to workout, help you train towards your goals, introduce you to new ways of exercising, and teach you to make the most of your time in the gym (no more Instagramming on the elliptical). In fact, hiring a personal trainer is probably one of the best things you can do to improve your fitness. Only trouble is, where do you start?
With so many PTs on the gym floor, how do you know which one to choose? Charlotte Thomas is a health and fitness blogger at Lunges and Lycra and editor of fitness website Unbound Life. She caught up with one of our personal trainers and gave us six simple steps to help navigate that maze of muscle and find the perfect personal trainer for you.
1. LOOK AROUND THE GYM FLOOR
“Looking around the gym when you’re working out should give you an idea of which personal trainers would be right for you,” says Chiso Uzochukwu, a personal trainer at Fitness First, Clapham Junction, London.
“See who’s training their clients in the way you’d like to be trained – are they strict or jokey, do they focus on functional training or weights? You’re going to be spending a lot of time with this person so you want to make sure you’re going to get on as people as well as enjoying their style of training.”
2. ASK ABOUT A PERSONAL TRAINER’S AREAS OF INTEREST
Whether you want a personal trainer who specialises in Olympic lifting, weight loss, rehab, running or triathlon, the gym reception team will be able to give you info about trainers’ areas of interest and skill sets so you can work out who’s going to be best for you. They’ll also let you know who’s in the gym at what time, so you can find out which trainers would work best with your schedule.
3. CHECK THEIR QUALIFICATIONS
“Every personal trainer should have a REPs level 3 qualification from the Register of Exercise Professionals,” says Chiso. “This won’t be a problem in a gym but if you’re looking outside then make sure you ask, as some people do pass themselves off as PTs without the relevant qualifications.
“Lots of trainers will have done extra courses in their areas of interest – nutrition, kettle bells, pre and post-natal fitness for example – and they’ll be happy to talk about it so don’t be afraid to quiz them.”
4. EXPLAIN YOUR GOALS
If you find a personal trainer you like the sound of, set up a consultation so you can explain your goals. Think of it like a job interview, you both have to decide if you’re right for each other.
“I like people who have strong goals so we both know what we’re working towards,” says Chiso. “There are some clients I haven’t taken on because they don’t know what they want and I don’t think they’re prepared to put the work in. I need a client to challenge me and motivate me to do my job to the best of my ability, as much as me trying to motivate them.”
5. CONSIDER SHARING YOUR SESSIONS
If you’re working towards a serious goal, two or three personal training sessions a week would be ideal, but we can’t all afford that.
“If you haven’t got the money or you prefer training with others then look for someone who’ll offer a group training deal,” says Chiso. “I’ve trained groups of two or three friends so that they can split the cost.”
6. DON’T JUST PICK THE ONE YOU FANCY
Yes, having a hot trainer might motivate you to hit the gym, but it’s going to get awkward pretty quickly. “Remember the trainer is working,” says Chiso. “And the nature of the job means they’re going to be taking an interest in your life, but don’t read too much into that. It’s a business relationship, and they’re going to find it hard to adjust your body position or talk about certain exercises if you’re constantly making eyes at them.”