If 2019 is The Year You're Going To Get Fit (girl, same) then there's every chance you're considering getting a personal trainer. And it makes sense; the benefits of one-on-one training mean you can quickly focus on areas you want to target and make sure you're using the equipment right.
But, of course, a personal trainer can make a huge dent in your bank balance – which is why you want to make sure you're getting the best from them. Before you make the commitment and hand over a chunk of your hard-earned money each week, check you've found the right PT by asking these questions:
1. How do I know which areas to train?
Get it right before you start training and make sure you find a PT who understands all body types. Want to tone your stomach? Get stronger? Work on your general fitness levels? A good personal trainer should know exactly where to start.
Keith McNiven, founder of London based personal training company Right Path Fitness tells Cosmopolitan UK: “It's the PT’s job to bring balance to their training programme so that they are working the deltoids,biceps and triceps - rather than just the biceps. Or maybe it's incorporating abs exercises with a fat loss workout.
“A better approach in the first instance, is often thinking about your headline goal - like to increase your stamina, lose fat or build muscle. Your PT can advise on the areas to train, how often and how.”
2. Is it safe for me to train away from the gym and without your assistance?
If your budget doesn't stretch to three sessions a week (let's be honest, most won't) you probably want to know if you can take what you've learnt and work solo. A good PT should say yes.
“One of the benefits of working with a PT is that they’ll show you the correct technique to perform the exercises you need to do, so you’ll be one step ahead of the rest of the fitness pack who are just trying to muddle through,” Keith explains. “A PT should give you 100% during the sessions you have with them, but outside of that time, you also need to be putting in the work.”
3. How do I go about setting goals for myself?
If you don't even know where to begin, your personal trainer should be able to help.
“The good thing about goals is that they are adaptable and you can just keep on making them bigger and better as you progress further into your fitness journey,” Keith says. “Every PT works differently, but working with you on developing your goals is something they will definitely do.
“A good approach is often taking a big headline goal like to get fit and to break that down into smaller steps; like to run one mile without stopping in January. Then as you achieve this smaller step you set the next.
“Every step you take leads you closer to that big headline goal of getting fit. Talking about goals is page one of the PT manual - in fact, they’ll probably be asking you about your goals in your very first chat!”
4. Are weights important for me?
Weight training isn't just for hardcore gym-goers – it should be an important part of any training schedule, and a PT can show you exactly how to get it right.
Keith says: “Weights are so important for women, especially when you hit your thirties because that’s the age when you stop naturally developing muscle and start losing it.
“Muscle burns more calories than fat, so from the perspective of keeping trim, weights are your saviour. They can also increase bone mineral density (a potential insurance policy against osteoporosis) and will help you to stay strong and capable, which is good for your flexibility, posture and general wellbeing.”
5. What’s your greatest success story?
If you're new to personal training, picking someone with experience will help reassure you. Keith says that finding out about previous clients will help give an "insight into their successes and also the opportunity to see what drives them as a PT.
"What you really want to know are their passions as a personal trainer; maybe its transformations or maybe they’re really into nutrition.
“A good PT/client relationship is about chemistry too - you’ve got to get on and they need to be able to motivate you in the right way. So when they’re telling you about their success stories, listen closely and see if their ways of working will suit you.”
6. How long am I likely to need a trainer for?
Keith calls this the “golden question”, but if you can, try to find out how long you'll be training with a PT before you begin so you can decide whether you're willing to commit to them – but be willing to reach for the goal.
“The truth is, it depends entirely on how hard you work,” Keith says.“If you’re going to train with your PT sporadically, then eat and drink what you like for the rest of the time, then it’s going to take a long, long time.
“If, however, you are training around three to four times a week under your trainer’s guidance, eating appropriately and living healthily then it’s realistic to start seeing results in six weeks.
“Transformation packages for six or 12 weeks with nutrition advice are really popular, and it is absolutely possible to see results in that timeframe.”
7. What's your style of encouragement?
You might be the type of person who works well with a strict trainer, or you might prefer a more relaxed style of reassurance – either way, find out which your PT embodies before you start paying them.
“The wrong trainer will only lead you to wilt and give up after a few sessions,” Keith says. “Not only that, their negative experience will probably put them off exercise for life.
“You’ll probably be able to gauge personality from just talking to the PT when you meet them for the first time, but it never hurts to just make sure they don’t transform into the Hulk when they train clients!”
8. Can you also help with my eating habits?
Whether you're training to lose weight or get fit, getting your diet right is half of the battle. “Nutrition can contribute up to 80% towards meeting goals,” admits Keith.
“It’s not just about weight loss - if you want to get stronger and build endurance then you need to be eating the right foods too. Food feeds your body and fuels your workouts, so your PT should be happy to provide advice around eating habits.
“They’re invested in your success just as much as you are, so get this question in early and work out a nutritious eating plan alongside your new exercise plan - the two absolutely go hand in hand.”
9. Can you train me for a sporting event?
Planning on running a marathon? Rather you than me... but there's no harm in enlisting some help with your training.
“Sometimes people need that big goal to give them the motivation to really train hard,” says Keith. “Tell your PT what you have planned and when the event is.
“Training for a marathon requires quite a specific training programme, alongside good nutrition, and you need as much time as possible to get your body ready for it. Same with boxing, wrestling or any other sporting event.”
You got this.
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