Why finding the right personal trainer is the key to achieving your fitness goals
When Leanne Martin decided she wanted to get fit, she enlisted the help of a personal trainer. Like many of us, she felt expert guidance would help her achieve her goals. Her initial choice of trainer proved otherwise. “Tim would criticise my weight and put me down,” says Martin. “He never took my measurements, weighed me or set clear goals.
He’d get distracted in the gym and almost dropped weights on me once because he was looking at someone else.” Demotivated and demoralised, Martin stopped working with Tim and found a new trainer. “Bree was fantastic from day one. She monitored my weight and measurements and put together a nutrition plan. She took me shopping to teach me to understand food labels and made sure my eating stayed on track.”
With Bree’s guidance and support, Martin dropped five dress sizes over a matter of months. She also trained hard enough to complete the local seven-kilometre fun run in 35 minutes.
While not everyone is cut out to be a personal trainer, there’s growing demand for their services. According to an IBISWorld report, the personal training industry has experienced strong growth over the past five years. Studies showing the efficacy of personal training will, no doubt, fuel this further.
A study conducted by UCLA and published in The Journal of Strength & Conditioning Research found that personal training has a dramatic impact on fitness levels. Over a 12-week period, those who did personal training sessions three times a week increased their lean body mass by 1.5 kilograms, muscle strength by 42 per cent and muscle power by 10 per cent.
Similarly, a study published in The Journal of Sports Science & Medicine showed that working out with a trainer increases your fitness-goal success rate by more than 30 per cent.
Regardless of these results, not all trainers are effective or good. So, how can we ensure we’re choosing the right one?
“Choosing the right trainer is about finding someone you can trust implicitly to give you both the right advice and training, while helping you build an interest in health and wellness,” says personal trainer Kylie Harris.
Finding a good trainer can be as simple as asking a likeminded person for a recommendation, or booking a few trial sessions with different trainers to find the fit that’s right for you. It’s also important to consider qualifications and experience. “Trainers can be phony,” warns Harris. “I’ve had clients who think they can train others after a few sessions themselves. But lack of qualifications and experience can lead to injury or burnout, even if the intentions are good.
“Certification should prove the trainer has an understanding of anatomy and the risks associated with exercise. Experience means they’ve been exposed to injuries and illnesses which could arise, so they understand the importance of balance.”
Most trainers will have some testimonials on their website and social media accounts, and Harris says it’s worthwhile looking at these. She also suggests asking a trainer if you can speak to their current clients, as a good trainer won’t mind. “You need to gauge if you can trust a trainer from day one.
Working with someone who makes you feel uncomfortable can be demotivating or, alternatively, you may push yourself too hard to impress them if you feel unworthy or unequal.” More detrimentally, not having the right trainer can result in you not achieving your goals – or even setting them in the first place. “Trainers motivate their clients by understanding goals. Reminding clients of these on their off days is often how some sessions get completed,” says Harris.
A good trainer will also undertake regular assessments to monitor your progress and adjust the goals you set along the way as necessary. “It can be hard to find the right person, but the best thing is to listen to your intuition,” says Harris. “If you feel self-conscious, like you’re being pushed too much or too little, or if the advice being given isn’t suitable, the chances are you may need to start your search again.”
Finding the right trainer
• Ask yourself, “What are my goals, what is most important to me in finding a trainer and what style of trainer will motivate me best?”
• Try before you buy. Ask to watch a couple of training sessions in action and to speak with some existing clients, then organise a few sessions with the trainer before committing to anything long term.
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