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Personal Trainers & how to find the right one

Once upon a time there weren’t that many coaches around, now, every other person on Facebook has PT at the end of their name. Everyone has their own methods, beliefs and traits but how can you spot the good from the bad? How do you choose the one right for you?

  • Search around

Don’t just take the word of a friend who has started training 3 weeks with their newly qualified friend. Chances are they won’t be the best available. Look for someone with an established reputation and proven results.

  • Find one you click with

The most important thing is to find one who is

A. knowledgable.

B. you connect with.

To succeed you need to be with someone who understands you and you enjoy being around. If you don’t look forward to training with this person you will find yourself making excuses not to go. If this is the case then it’s better to move on. This isn’t a personal attack on the coach and if he is professional he will understand but at the end of the day, it is your money and your time so you are entitled to spend it as you please.

  • What is your budget?

This is a key question. Unfortunately for some people, the coach they really want may be out of their price range. Some PT/coaches who are only setting out will charge low in order to get themselves clients, other more established coaches will charge considerably more. I tend to ask people who think paying for a PT is too expensive how much they would spend on an average weekend night out. Then I ask them how many times a month they go out. On average including taxis, entry into clubs and drinks most guys I know, tend to spend £100-200 a night 2-3 weekends a month. Add that up and its anywhere between £300-600 a month, for some it could be a lot more. If this is how much you are prepared to spend damaging your body, how much do you think you should invest bettering it? Think of your body as a super car. You look after it, make sure it gets the best of care, you don’t fill a Ferrari full of diesel.

  • What type of person are you?

Do you need encouraged or to be shouted at. Some people don’t work well under pressure and need to be guided and encouraged. Others need to be pushed, shouted and screamed at. Coaches are no different. Some are relaxed, calm and passive. Others are animated and in your face. Find the one who is right for you and you will achieve your goals faster

  • How experienced are they?

This may sound cruel but how long have they been coaching? How many years have they been training themselves? Its well and good doing a 2 week, REPS recognised, generic PT course but it is a completely different thing to understand the human body. The ability to spot dysfunctional movement and know how correct it is something that only years of life in the fitness trenches can teach you. The majority of times you really do get what you pay for.

  • What are your goals?

If you want to run a marathon there is no point is seeking out an Olympic lifting specialist. (Yes OL will help but this is more for elite runners). Likewise, If your goal is a powerlifting meet working with a fat loss specialist probably isn’t your best option. Decide on your goal then seek out someone who specialises in it. 

  • Can they explain why you are doing an exercise?

I see this all the time. Clients being asked to do ridiculous movements that have no real purpose other than to stroke the trainers ego, make the client believe the PT knows much more than they actually do and fool them into thinking it is a great exercise. Its fine to add variety but unfortunately, Youtube is full of clips of trainers putting clients through pointless and sometimes dangerous exercises.

  • Do they structure a program to your goals? 

Is there a method and pattern to your training? Is there progress in a safe way? If you are training 3-4 times a week you can’t always be working at full pace, especially in the beginning. Its fine to have a sweat session once in a while or a quick met-con style workout at the end but if you are coming in and always being subjected to circuit type sessions with random exercises, in my opinion, it is time to start asking questions. Why pay all that money for something you can get in a £5 class? 

If you have just begun training then having DOMS (delayed onset muscle soreness) is natural but if its impossible to get off the toilet or hold a fork to your mouth the day after each session maybe you trainer is pushing you too hard. This is especially true if you are an athlete or training for another sport. Your training should enhance your chosen sport not hinder it.  Something that bothers me significantly is when a client who trains in football/fighting/rugby and wants to improve. The coach has him do bodybuilding movements 3 sets of 10 or circuit classes. These have little or no athletic crossover and if anything will actually cause more damage to the athletes performance.

  •  Do they know how to use the equipment you are using?

A pet hate of mine. Just because someone is a qualified PT does not mean they are an expert in all forms of training. I see this all the time with kettle bells and Olympic lifts. So many people are coached wrong and end up with a bad back then blame the tools for the injury when in most cases it is down to the trainer either being unqualified or inexperienced. TOP TIP. A kettlebell swing is not a squat into a front raise.  If you are shown anything that resembles this then walk away.

  • Women training with light weights.

Yes, you are not as strong as men but it does not mean you can’t train like one. A deadlift does not know if you are a man or a woman. Before I offend anyone out there,(but if I have then maybe its time to look at your training methods) I’m not saying you can’t use or get results from light weights but make sure you are using enough to stimulate some sort of muscle response. If I have a female client who can press 16kg or 20kg kettlebell, it is pointless me handing her a 4kg. Train to get strong and the byproduct will be a better physique.

  • EVERYTHING WORKS for around six weeks!! 


If you are a beginner no matter what type of training you are doing, as long as you are doing something regularly you will see change. If you are experienced then changing a program up will illicit results. When you have trained in a certain style for a length of time i.e. 5×5 and seem to be stalling then something as simple as varying the order of the exercises may be all that’s required or changing to a higher rep program like German Volume training for a few weeks your body will guarantee to shock your into growth. The key is to find someone who understands various programs and knows how to implement them correctly and safely.

  • Online coaching.

This is a great option for those who already know their way around a gym and have the discipline to get the workouts done. For these types, online training can be perfect. What is offered varies from trainer to trainer and depends on the level of the package but usually, it involves a program, weekly email support and Skype calls.

Before you hire a PT use the questions in this guide to help you to decide on the right trainer for you.

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