A personal trainer can tailor a customised fitness programme to help you achieve your goals. Photo: www.123rf.com/racorn
That’s right, I used the word “partner”. Because it suggests you’re on equal standing with your personal trainer – he (or she) is not the boss of you, and neither are you just a client (and definitely not a recruit). It’s important that you get this right, because seeing your PT as a partner or companion in your get-fit / lose-weight / self-empowerment journey is the first step to success. You are responsible for your body – and your PT is going to work alongside you to make it the lean, mean machine you want it to be. Which brings me to the first and possibly the most important point to note when assessing your prospective PT:
Not feeling intimidated by your PT is a good sign. Feeling like you can actually be honest with him is another. That means no lying about how much you really binge ate over the weekend or pretending to be ill to skip workouts. You don’t need me to tell you it will be easier to drag yourself to the gym when you actually respect your personal trainer – and the feeling is mutual.
At least make sure your PT is certified. Organisations like Sports Singapore (formerly known as the Singapore Sports Council), American Council on Exercise (ACE), American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM) and National Strength and Conditioning Association (NSCA) are some of the better known bodies that offer PT and fitness coach certification courses.
But of course, a certificate alone doesn’t guarantee a high quality of training. You’ll also want to find out more about his experience and sports preferences – if you’re a hardcore runner, you’d feel better training with someone who understands your passion as well as the challenges and injuries associated with the activity. Likewise, if you hate running, it’d help to have a personal trainer who’s willing to tailor an alternative cardiovascular workout programme for you.
Also ask about the kind of clients the personal trainer tends to work with. He might, for instance, specialise in strength conditioning, weight management or injury rehabilitation. A PT who regularly trains sedentary office workers is likely to be more familiar with the muscular imbalances that these individuals tend to have than a trainer who only works with seasoned athletes (who’d obviously have a different set of problems). If you’re not sure how to steer that conversation, read 10 Questions You Should Ask Your PT.
Enough of the talk – time for action. Your prospective personal trainer should be cool with conducting a no-strings-attached trial training session with you so that you can get a sense of his training style and find out whether it actually works for you. It’s also the PT’s chance to assess your fitness level and motivational style. You might or might not have to pay for this trial session, but whichever the case, you should be free to walk away if the fit is not right.