Finding a Personal Trainer is a bit like dating……
You want to find someone who understands your situation and health needs and with whom you can build trust and have a fantastic professional relationship with. It can be a bit of a minefield! You can’t just use Google and pick the first PT that takes your fancy and think it will be a success. So to help you find a PT that is the right one for you – here’s some tips on helping you to find your ideal PT.
1. Write a “shopping list” of what you would like in a PT.
Do you want a male or female PT? or are you not fussed on what gender they are? Do you want someone who is quite strict or easy-going and chatty? Is there a particular exercise style/type you like eg. Military, Fun, Aerobic, Strength….? What environment – Gym based, home, outdoors? How many sessions per week/month? Duration of session? Budget? Do you have specific medical or sport needs? Would you prefer online training and advice?
It’s a lot easier to find what you want when you have an idea of what you’re looking for first!
2. Ask friends/colleagues/your gym.
It may be that one of your friends knows of, or has used a PT – they may be able to provide you with a bit of information about them, possible costs, and whether they would use them again. A personal recommendation is invaluable. It doesn’t mean that they are the ideal match for you but it is a good place to start.
3. Use the Register for Exercise Professionals.
REPs in the UK (or international equivalent) are a professional body that provides a system of regulation for instructors and trainers to ensure that they meet the health and fitness industry’s agreed National Occupational Standards.
Searching your postcode they can provide a list of registered instructors and PTs in your area and will provide confirmation of their qualifications, a personal profile and contact links.
By using REPs you can be assured that a registered individual has gained relevant qualifications and training, meets the REPs professional and ethical guidelines and is more importantly, insured.
4. Check their Online presence
Once you have found a potential PT (either using REPs search facility, Google, or any other method) one of your next steps should be to check their online status. It could be a website, blog, Twitter account, Facebook page, Instagram account….. and so on.
How often is this updated? What type of things do they write about/post? Do they interact with the reader? Do they post lots of gym selfies?…..
For some PT’s their website etc – is simply an online place for them to advertise their costs and provide contact details. For others it can provide an online “shop” where clients can buy services/products. Others will use it to communicate fitness tips or motivation. Others can come across like they just want to show off their own physique. But by reviewing what they do, you can gain a better understanding of what they are like as a person and you should be able to figure out if they are someone who you would like to work with.
5. Check documents
This can cover qualifications, training, insurance. A good place to start would be checking with REPS however if the PT is not registered, most would automatically bring along copies of these with them to their first meeting with you – if they don’t then ask to see them!
This is especially important of you have any form of medical conditions such as high blood pressure, heart conditions, respiratory problems to name just a few. It may be that they say that they have had a lot of experience in dealing with these conditions, however from an insurance point of view without the relevant qualifications they may not be covered.
If you are using a gym based PT it may be that they are covered by the gym’s insurance policy should an accident or injury occur – but always check!
A PT will have previous/current clients that can provide feedback and reviews of their skills and ability. They may even have before and after pictures. Online testimonials are a good resource, but again they may show you some during the initial consultation with you. Feel free to also ask if you can contact any of their past or current clients if you would like to hear it “from the horse’s mouth” as it were.
7. Ask questions
Whether it is via email, over the phone or in person – please ask questions if you are unsure. It may be about costs/discounts available but it could be something more personal – just remember this is a professional relationship you are looking for. A good PT will be asking lots of questions about you to understand your situation and ensure they create an enjoyable and challenging programme – so don’t be afraid to ask some yourself.
Some examples: What exercise/training do they themselves do? What are they currently studying? How do they keep up to date with exercise knowledge/guidelines? What is their “story”? What do they enjoy outside of fitness?
8. Meet them in person.
Once you have narrowed your search to a couple of possibilities, your next step would be to meet in person. This may be for a quick chat in a coffee shop, or an initial consultation within a gym. Please note for your own safety a first meeting does not need to be at your home!
Some PTs may charge for an initial consultation depending on the time taken and depth of consultation – for example completing questionnaires, fitness tests etc.
This is when you will more than likely cement your decision on whether or not you want to employ this person as your personal trainer. You will be able to determine their confidence in being able to help you, set potential goals/targets, and go through documents etc. You will also be able to see what they are like in real life and if it matches what they say and show online and if you will be able to trust them. Do they show an interest in you as a person? Do they understand your needs and goals? Do they speak in a way you can relate to?
9. Don’t be pressured – Read the Small Print.
Don’t be swayed by “one time” offers or time limits to signing up (they will more than likely come round again at some point). Employing a PT can be costly in terms of money and time – so you need to be certain in your decision before signing up fully. Some PTs may offer a “Try before you Buy” scheme, offer money back guarantees, or may provide discounts or refund consultation fees if you book training sessions etc. Be sure to read the small print regarding any purchase – especially cancellation policies as these can vary dramatically and can be strict in terms of when a session would need to be rebooked or if/when refunds are given and so on.
10. A PT is not “for life”.
While all PTs would love you to be a life-time commitment – the truth is that at some point the relationship will come to end, be that after 1 month or 10 years. It could be due to the completion of training for a specific event or goal or it could be due to something else.
Once you start your training sessions unfortunately sometimes the reality doesn’t match the promise. It may be that once the sales pitch has been completed the sessions are hard to book, the PT does not give you their full attention or you are not seeing the results you hoped for. It may be that you are not enjoying the sessions or other issues have arisen such as injuries or health conditions or finances, that mean that you cannot continue.
As with any relationship – try discussing this with your PT. If something isn’t working out for whatever reason – rather than suffering through the rest of the sessions you have purchased – try to speak to them about it. Feedback from you is usually requested at the end of each session anyway, but any PT should be willing to amend your programme or adjust targets etc to ensure that you are happy (after all ,they would like your recommendations and repeat purchase!). Otherwise, read through the cancellation policy and see if there is anything that can be done.
There are thousands of PT’s out there with many different personalities, skills, types and costs. I hope that my tips will help you find your ideal PT match, to make sure that you enjoy working with them, get good value for money and the results you want! Have fun with it and good luck.