Team JDP Gives you 14 questions you need to ask your Personal Trainer.
Wherever you have a big holiday coming up, a huge day in the Calendar or you just want to be the fittest and best you’ve ever felt, the gym is the first port of call.
It is going really well, fat is starting to drop off, your getting fitter and stronger. But then it all starts to get hard. Getting up, getting going, getting the last rep out. The results of all your months of hard work start to fade and you start going backwards. This is where the Personal Trainer steps up!
Personal Trainers can design you a training program to help you get over these plateaus and push through…getting you to the best you’ve ever looked and felt.
However, I’ll use the word ‘can’ loosely.
Personal Trainers are everywhere and they are growing in number fast, with learning providers and Health clubs Turning normal, everyday people, with a slight interest in health and fitness into Health Professionals and Personal Trainers in as little as 6 weeks! This is ludicrous. Personal Trainers are in charge of someone’s health, with the wrong tuition and the wrong guidance, a client could drastically hurt themselves.
So, use my list of questions to ask your prospected Personal Trainer to identify the right one for you. Remember, anyone can be a ‘Trainer’ but it’s what puts the ‘Personal’ in ‘Personal Trainer’ that makes all the difference.
1- What qualifications do you have?
Personal Training is fast becoming a diluted profession, with ‘coaches’ being branded as their job title now, therefore the qualification isn’t needed (terrible, I know) so it’s so vital your Personal Trainer has been properly trained and really knows what they are doing. There are two well-regarded UK organisations called the National Register of Personal Trainers (NRPT) and the Register of Exercise Professionals (REPS) which vet training providers and have approved lists. If your Personal Trainer isn’t on this list, it’s not the end of the world as these organisations are only vetting a company. It costs big bucks to be on the register, so that may be a reason why your personal Trainer has avoided it.
2- (If the Personal Trainer does not come recommended) Can I have some references so I can contact people you have trained?
90% of my client base are referral based. There is no better reference than a personal recommendation! A well trained and seasoned Personal Trainer should have a portfolio of clients, vital statistics and testimonials of the programmes they have undertaken.
If you haven’t got that option, ask to talk to old clients. Ask for the Personal Trainer’s competence, reliability, punctuality and focus in sessions.
3- Is there an initial health screening and what does it consist of?
All Personal Trainers should ask you to complete a PARQ. This is totally about your health, physical problems, medication, hereditary disposition to illness, and so on. Your answers need to be true and will influence the nature and intensity of your training programme.
Some Personal Trainers will offer a movement assessment, strength and fitness assessment also, enabling them to provide the best training program for you.
4-What kind of training and exercises will we be doing in our sessions?
Your Personal Training programme must be bespoke for you. However, your Personal Trainer will only be able to create this on certain elements – gym equipment, your physical state and of course time. Some Personal Trainers put a heavy emphasis on resistance training, some on running and cardiovascular exercise, some on stretching and movement. Ideally, you need someone that will cover all spectrums of training, not just fat loss.
5- How many sessions a week would you suggest we have and why?
This question totally relates to what you are trying to achieve, how quick you want to hit your goals, your lifestyle and what you can afford. If you are super busy then once a week may be all you can manage to perform – but this will limit your progress. Also, if you’re new to the gym, your aches a sprain will mean you’ll need more time to recover, so 1-2 days per week is advisable.
I would suggest three to four times a week, this will mean faster progress and less chance of your going wayward. Consistency is key, in whatever warp of life.
6- Can you travel to me or is it just here?
Exercising in the comfort of your own home or at the office is becoming increasingly popular with people as it takes less time out of their day. However, if your need programme is more ‘gym based‘ and involves specialist equipment, then you may have to do the foot work!. If the Personal Trainer agrees to travel to you, you may be paying more. Their travel time and cost may bump your hourly rate up!
7- How will you monitor my progress throughout the program, if so, how often?
Probably the biggest bug bearer of mine. Having goals and setting targets is what you’ve come to your Personal Trainer for: if you don’t know where you’re at, if you’re on track or slipping away, you can sometimes get lost in your programme. When the going gets tough and you start to ask yourself “why am I doing this” you’ll be surprised how much of difference knowing you’ve dropped 2kg that week or your lifting heavier than ever!
8- Will I be able train with a friend in my programme?
Sometimes exercising can be as much fun with a buddy then alone! It’ll also give you more accountability to not only show up for your session, but I’m keeping with the programme. It’ll also give you some well needed competition! Ask your Personal Trainer if you could split the cost, it may cost a bit more per session, as the Personal Trainer is working twice as hard, but cheaper in the long run!
9- Do you give Nutritional and Dietary advice?
Any qualified Personal Trainer will have some basic form of nutrition, enabling them to ADVISE you on your diet. Personal Trainers are not dieticians, well, unless they have gained the qualifications, then I stand corrected! So be aware and think twice if they start pointing out food intolerances and other dietician lingo! However, there are hundreds of diets around and the advantage of having a Personal Trainer is that they can give you individual ADVICE that would be tailored to your physical condition, your current lifestyle and the nutrition that will aid your new exercise programme. Avoid the Personal Trainer if there is any suggestion of extreme dieting, you’re supposed to be improving your body, not damaging it!
10- How much does it cost?
Most Personal Trainers, like any business, offer discounts if you pay for a certain number of sessions in advance. But before you do this, the small print. If your Personal Trainer is serious, they’ll have a ‘Client agreement form’ on that should be informed about refunds if you don’t finish the sessions.
Also find out how late you can cancel a session without being charged for it – 24 hours notice is the norm, but again, read the small print. Another important factor to have in mind is keeping a note of your sessions to avoid disputes – Sign off sheets are a great way to keep on top of these!
If your Personal Trainer is significantly late, you shouldn’t have to pay the full cost – ask about this in advance, this should also be on the ‘Client agreement form’.
11- Can you tell me a bit about yourself?
A successful programme massively depends chemistry with your Personal Trainer as you will be spending a lot amount of time together, all be it, with you are frantically gasping for oxygen. Unless training in silence is something you prefer to do, choose a Personal Trainer who is a good listener and an interesting talker, and with whom you have some interests in common.
12- When is the gym at its busiest?
As time with your Personal Trainer is limited (and your paying for every minute) make sure your sessions and your programme work in line with the crowds. The last thing you want is to be waiting in a queue for the next flat bench press machine to be free!
13- Have you a rough guide on time frames from what goals we’ve spoken about?
The personal Trainer should have a brief indication on to when and if you will hit your projected goals after the consultation. Obviously this goes on, how hard YOU work too and if you stick to the plan, but, without any injuries or set backs, they should know!
14- Do you provide all my exercise needs or so I have to train alone? If so will you give me a programme to follow?
Many of my clients in the past have said they Personal Trainers gave them no indication on what they should do in their spare time. This is massively counterproductive. Unless you’re seeing your Personal Trainer 4/5 times per week and then in that case you should be resting and recovering. Make sure you get some kind of cardio protocols or maybe a programme to ensure you train the body parts you may have missed that week.