Dec 19th, 2012
If you’ve decided that you wanted to a hire a personal trainer to get you back in shape here’s a few things to consider.
The UK fitness industry has seen a surge in the number of people qualifying as personal trainers over the last couple of years, all of them eager with good intentions.
I have worked in this industry for 5 years and been a regular gym user for 10 years and I’ve seen my share of bad trainers so I’m going to present my how to spot a bad trainer guide to help you make the right choice.
1) They don’t ask you want YOU want
Any good trainer will ask questions to find out what your goals are, this is our chance to find out as much as we can about you.
What you want to achieve, what you’ve done before, what results you’ve gotten, what activities you’re currently doing, etc.
Depending on the level of trainer this is the perfect time to assess your structural balance/posture assessment, in most cases clients display imbalances in their muscles causing them to move differently. A common one we see is the over-activity of hip flexors and weakness in the glutes, this generally leads lower back pain and instability of the pelvis.
The consultation process is probably one of the most important parts and generally not a good idea to be skipped, if we don’t know anything about you we can’t give you a personalised approach.
2) They don’t pay YOU any attention
I was having a training session in the local gym chain I was a member of at the time and a trainer was giving a lady a training session.
The exercise he chose to give her was the split squat, excellent exercise for the glutes, knee stability and core control.
The way he delivered her through the exercise was appalling, this poor lady was given a weight to use that far exceeded her own capabilities, her back was compromised by the inability to hold her posture, her technique and balance was terrible.
What was the personal trainer doing while she was being put through such a tortuous exercise? He was looking out the window at other people, only looking back to count repetitions, never did he ask her how she felt during the exercise, not once was her technique corrected and a great exercise ruined!
Absolute focus is on you the client, all exercises are dangerous when done wrong but when done right the benefits are great, look for this when the trainer is coaching you.
You don’t want a trainer to be watching TV, talking on the phone or just looking out the window in a daze when YOU are paying for their “expertise.”
3) They don’t explain the exercise and the reason why they chose it
Always question why the trainer has chosen this exercise for you, they should be able to explain why they are giving you an exercise and what the benefits are.
4) They don’t listen to you
During the consultation process I learned from a client that she previously had another trainer but decided to leave her because she just didn’t listen.
She wanted to lose weight, she gets bored easily, and she hates spending a long time doing one thing. The trainer failed to the acknowledge her needs, the client after 3 weeks of training with her decided that she could do these exercises by herself. Every single one machine based exercises, and the cardio was done with the trainer standing by her while she talked about her personal life.
The client has to be happy with what they are doing, the trainer has to adjust the programming accordingly or at least have a good reason to why they are making you do something.
5) Changing the intensity
The majority of gym members are beginners, these are the ones that have never trained or are out of shape with little experience. If you’re just starting out, watch out for trainers that chuck you in at the deep end.
We all mean well and we want to help you lose that weight, but if you can’t do an exercise then we have to regress, this is why we need to focus on you, if we see you struggling or it’s too easy this is where we ask you questions.
For example –
The dynamic lunge – if you’re finding this exercise is too hard regress to the static lunge holding something for balance, or regress to a step up.
Be wary of trainers that fail to spot you struggling.
6) Just because they look the part doesn’t mean they know anything about training you
There are good teachers and there are bad. Some look the part but have no idea about training someone, don’t be fooled into thinking that big muscles means they are great teachers.
Again you have to think about what’s important…..the results. You want to get to your goal in the quickest possible time. Trainers are becoming smarter and smarter, so whatever shape or form they come in as long as you are getting results then that’s the most important thing.
7) Qualified trainers
Make sure you go to a certified trainer before you pay someone to train you, always check credentials. Be wary of private personal trainers as anyone can put an advert in the paper.
8 ) Rapport
There are some great trainers out there but you do get the odd few giving us a bad name.
When hiring a trainer it’s a partnership between two people, they become part of your support unit and if you don’t even get along then you have to question why you chose this trainer.
When hiring a trainer its best to test out the waters by buying a one off session, this allows you to see how well you receive their instructions, how patient they are with you, whether they correct your technique and whether you generally get on with them.
I hope this guide has helped you to spot a bad trainer, there are so many trainers to choose from that it gets a bit daunting. Not every trainer is the same and all have different styles of training, the most important thing is that you’re safe and happy doing what you’re doing.
Good luck achieving your goals.