Its a tough one to explain, being one myself I would like to tell you, we are all the same but thats not the case. There are so many types of PT's and they come from so many backgrounds and provide an exhaustive list of experience, that you will never find one alike. Some good, some great, some bad, some needing more understanding etc there is such a sliding scale of personal trainers that it is and must be a mind field to try work out who to go to. I myself have struggled o to find one for me, as even though i may be a trainer. I still believe its a valuable exercise to keep in tune with other PT's, learn new exercise and generally continuous learning is a must.
From a purely factual point of view, the documented description of a personal trainer is
'An individual certified to have a varying degree of knowledge of general fitness involved in exercise prescription and instruction. They motivate clients by setting goals and providing feedback and accountability to clients'
I would like to think that really, we all know that this is simply the tip of the iceberg and to be a great personal trainer you need to be more than that, and be someone that recognises and utilises their own expertise to understand the thoughts and needs of the client as a whole human being as opposed to a cash cow.
The basic principle is that a PT will provide a program of exercises which will challenge and push you so that you achieve the necessary goals you require, but in reality a PT is interested in all the other areas of your life as well and together, they will assist in showing you how to align all parts of your life so that you feel in tune, stronger, able to deal with situations, happier, healthier and mentally strong. It isnt just about the number on the weight to bench press or the number of reps you can do before you pass out, unless thats what you want to do. A true PT will care and invest their time and expertise to help provide you with the necessary information in order to grow and be strong as well as listen. All PTs are confidential and should provide a safe place in which to speak freely and be heard.
Trying to find a Personal trainer can and often does come with its dilemmas, either you are recommended or you end up going to your nearest gym and hoping for the best, or you do a google search for people around you, but in truth it is almost certainly potluck what you find. So in order to reduce this hassle and make life a little easier: here are my 5 principle guidelines to follow when you looking for a Personal Trainer.
One thing to remember is this: Exercise is not an obligation, it is not there to make you feel guilty or as a way to dictate your life. It should become a way of life, a way to improve your bodies strength so that you can cope with day to day stresses and make the best out of your life. It is part of your wellbeing for optimal health.
First and foremost, Its critical to understand why you are looking for a Personal Trainer in the first place, what is it you want to achieve? is it weight loss, feeling stronger, improving strength and flexibility? athletic performance, injury recovery, confidence, stress maintenance etc. The list is literally endless. Have you been referred by a GP, or have you made the decision yourself? If its a referral, you really need to sit down and understand the reason why the referral happened and either accept and embrace this decision and be willing to try and commit to this or accept that you are walking away, as there is no point just going through the motions. Its not good for your own morale and you would be wasting your money, and no Personal Trainer worth their salt would want to take your money if there is no investment from your side.
2) LOCATION LOCATION LOCATION
Once you have made the decision of why you are looking for a Personal trainer the next is to decide how often, when and where you are prepare to do it. Will you be going first thing in the morning before work? Lunch time? After work or weekends. Would you prefer to be at home and have them come to you? Therefore, do you start looking for Personal Trainers near where you live, where you work or if they will come to you?
One thing you need to remember is consistency, if you feel like the best way to do your exercise is first thing in the morning at 5am before the kids get up, or go straight from work, making this decision, will increase your level of commitment to continue and this is one of the most important things you need to focus on.. You need to find solutions that will assist in your commitment to continue and ultimately creating a routine that is part of your lifestyle and not an add on.
This is similar to the above, and links deftly because if you have decided you would like to go 3 times a week, you need to make sure you are able to meet this demand. Most Personal Trainers recommend repetition of the same times per week, it gives you structure and a strong sense of identity as you know this is your time for you, to embrace in looking after you, your mind, your body. So really decide on the frequency of how many times you would like to go and try as much as you can to maintain the same times. Obviously this is not always going to happen, as life does happen, but a framework of knowing you are going 2 times a week, Tuesday and Thursday does provide a great baseline to commitment and forming that habit.
Most of these guidelines are very obvious but do your research, if you are looking for a specific type of Trainer i.e.: to run a marathon in 4 months, then find someone that has previous experience. Or if you want to improve performance, timings, post injury recovery training, new to training. Look for trainers who have experience in that field as they will be able to understand where you are wanting to go to. With this, try a few out, get a feel for the type of training you may be doing. most personal trainers offer a free 1
st session with no obligation to purchase a bundle so take them up on it, see if you prefer to be worked in the gym, or whether free weights is for you or a combination of the two, or if its running, whether its on a track, outdoors etc. Its good to get an idea of the type of training you feel comfortable with, however I would recommend do not go for pure comfort. The role of a trainer is to be able to encourage past your comfort zone, so that might be in the type of exercises or the weights etc, so be mindful that you need a middle ground of appreciating the training and knowing that you will be pushed past your boundaries.
Last but not least, having a good baseline of communication with your Personal Trainer is one of the most important aspects of this business. You need to be able to feel comfortable, relaxed, free to speak and know you are in a free space, which is confidential and that you are actively being listened to and understood. You can walk away if you feel the chemistry is not right for you, if you don't feel a connection or they are not listening to your requirements and needs and blindly going along with their plan. You do not have to accept this as the only person to go to. You have to feel inspired, educated and motivated by your Personal Trainer, and know that they are able to tap into that in order to gently push you out of your comfort zone which makes you willing go for it and come back for more.
Finding a Personal Trainer is not easy, but with a few guidelines and a little bit of time, you can find the one which is perfect for you, someone that listens to your needs and understands where you want to get to and helps you achieve your goals so that you what at first felt like an uphill struggle and out of the norm, becomes so ensconced in your life it is your life.