From a general fitness perspective, there are so many ways to go about increasing fitness and beginning a proper, healthy regime to get you fit and then on to your peak. You can choose a variety of beginner apps, see our apps article for examples; join a gym, start some classes, or take things one step further and choose to start working with a personal trainer. For those who have found they have reached a plateau and would like a gentle nudge, or something a bit stiffer, a personal trainer can also be a great help in getting you through any fitness hurdles and on to the next level.
Personal trainers can be a fairly expensive option, after all you are looking for one on one time with a trained professional rather than using equipment or sharing costs in a class. If you are highly motivated and fairly knowledgeable already, then a PT might not be the best option. On the other hand, someone dedicated to you during your sessions should optimise the perfect training plan for you, work out your limitations and motivations and help you to achieve your goals that much more quickly and easily.
So, how to choose the right trainer? Obviously, recommendation is a great start. If a colleague or friend has used a trainer, they will likely know their strengths, weaknesses, and personality fit. It might be that their goals are vastly different from yours, in which case you will need to look around and take a leap, so there will be questions that you need to ask and some idea of your goals will be very useful in this process. It may be that you need to increase your general fitness, or lose weight, or you may want to build muscle. If you do have these specific aims in mind you need to communicate these with a potential PT and ensure this is something they believe they can deliver.
It is also crucial to your training relationship that you build some rapport. A trainer who you respect and like is far more likely to encourage you to keep going when the going gets tough, whereas someone who you don’t feel comfortable with will find it much harder to push you that bit further than your comfort zone. Ask about their methods, their usual type of clients and spend a short while chatting to see I this is someone you will happy to have one to one sessions with on a regular basis. It is a good idea to check their schedules carefully to ensure you can reach agreement about a regular session which is convenient to you.
Cost is obviously an issue. You can expect to pay around £30 upwards per hour, although London prices are obviously likely to be higher, and a well qualified, experienced trainer will probably be at the upper end of the scale, so you need to decide budget and what sort of value you expect from your fee. Some will offer discounts for block bookings, so its worth asking if these are available.
Qualifications are also important. You should check for a first aid certificate, and also find out which persona training and fitness qualifications a potential PT holds. You should look for a minimum of a Level 3 Personal Trainer qualification, which is a BTEC / A Level equivalent, and don’t forget to check they have the necessary insurance in place and current. Some personal trainers will be a member of the Register of Exercise Professionals, but this is not mandatory and does cost the trainer, so not all qualified trainers are registered.
If you have any particular health issues or requirements, for example high blood pressure or continuing injuries, then don’t be afraid to ask about relevant experience and qualifications relating to these. Ask how they will assess your current health and fitness levels to create the right training plan, and how frequently this will be reassessed and updated.
Lastly, as with anyone you may invite into your home, take proper precautions to check them out and make sure you meet in a secure, open environment to start with.