When Should You Hire A Personal Trainer?
If you’re thinking about hiring a trainer or coach, there are a few things to consider. So… when should you hire a personal trainer?
Hiring A Trainer Isn’t A Magic Pill
Trainers or coaches don’t have, or at least they shouldn’t claim to have, a magic potion that’s going to get you to your goals overnight.
They’ll normally have expertise, knowledge, experience, and the tools to work with you to help make you get to your goals, a smoother process.
The Benefits Of Hiring A Personal Trainer
When I used to work in a gym and I used to do consultations, I would usually give someone a training plan for two to four weeks to follow on their own and say, “see how this goes. And then come back to me and let me know what’s happening”.
I’d send them away and they’d come back and say that they stuck to it for a little bit, it was going well, and then they just started to slip – they were losing consistency.
And then when they were working with me, we were following the same plan, but because they were invested in it and knew they were being monitored by someone else, it means that they had an incentive to stick to it a lot more consistently.
Having an expert eye can make the process of getting to your goals a lot simpler. You don’t have to worry about thinking about how often you’re going to train or what exercises you’re going to do, what order you’re going to do them in, or how much weight you should be putting on there.
Actually, for that last one, you probably do need to have some input as your coach isn’t going to know exactly how each weight feels to you.
But in terms of constructing a training plan and specific exercises and that whole thing, you have someone taking care of that for you.
So there is a huge mental load lifted from that.
Next up is safety, making sure that you’re doing exercises with good technique, good form, and reducing your risk of injury.
Especially if you’re new, it’s harder to gauge that on your own.
So having a coach to help guide you through that and lay a very solid foundation with good technique is a wise move.
Tying in with accountability is that you have a little bit of extra motivation, or maybe in some cases, a lot of extra motivation.
You’ll have someone helping you get that extra couple of percent out of each exercise, and out of each rep in your sessions with them.
A good coach is also going to be heavily invested in your goals.
So there’s a good chance if you are deviating from your plan, you’re not only slowing down your progress, you’re also going to have an impact on how your coach is feeling too.
Flags To Be Aware Of When Looking For A Personal Trainer
There are a few things to look out for and a few red flags.
Not All Qualified Personal Trainers Will Be Good Trainers
It’s worth bearing in mind that in the UK at least, it doesn’t take much to become a qualified personal trainer. It’s a few weeks training course and doesn’t require or build a huge amount of hands-on experience.
And most things in that training process are quite generic.
That means it can be fairly easy to qualify, but that doesn’t mean that everyone who qualifies is either going to be a good coach or a good trainer, or maybe even specifically a good one for you.
Finding A Specialist
Some trainers and coaches will specialise in specific demographics, specific training styles, or specific goals.
If for example, you’re looking to get into running or looking to get better at it, you might be wise to find a coach in that specialised area.
Other trainers may have enough basic knowledge to help you out, but if the chance is there to work with someone who specialises in your goal, it makes sense to go down that route.
Testimonials And Track Record
Next is to check for a coach’s testimonials and track record.
And we need to add a few disclaimers to this. If someone’s a new trainer they might not have experience, but that doesn’t mean they’re going to be a bad coach. They might not have the track record to show you, but again, that’s something worth bearing in mind.
Also, quite a few coaches don’t necessarily flaunt their clients’ before and after photos because a lot of clients are sensitive about their before photos.
And also because some coaches (like me) focus more on how someone’s feeling or on other health and fitness goals, rather than just on the visual changes, you might not find a lot of before and afters from some very good coaches.
Speaking To Them
Next is actually just speak to them, see how they absorb and listen to the information you’re giving, see how realistic they are with their expectations and what they think you’ll be able to achieve.
And also if they’re taking on board exactly what you’re saying or if they’re talking back to you rather than actively listening to you.
Personal Trainer Red Flags
There are a few red flags for what I’ve noticed for in-person training sessions – so in a gym. And these are the kinds of coaches that you want to avoid.
Staring At Their Phones
Number one, staring at their phone during clients’ sessions.
If you’re paying someone for their time and they’re sitting there scrolling through Instagram during the time that you’re paying them for that’s probably not a good investment.
Treadmills And Lazy Warm-Ups
Next up is putting their clients on the treadmill or a cardio machine to warm up for the first 5, 10, 15 minutes.
In some cases, there will be a specific reason for that.
But generally, when I was doing in-person training, my clients knew they needed to get to their session 10 to 15 minutes before the scheduled start time and do the warm-up and mobility themselves.
I will have shown them what to do or have given them some resources to follow so that they’re ready for that start time and to get the most out of their investment.
If you’ve got a one-hour session and you’re doing 10 minutes chatting on the treadmill to warm up, that’s taking quite a lot of that one hour period session.
You want to make sure you’re getting the maximum bang for your buck.
Look at how casual the sessions are.
Is the client getting an effective workout or are they just doing “jaw day” for an hour and with intermittent breaks where they actually do an exercise?
I need to add a disclaimer that for some clients – from experience as well – for some clients that paid training session, is a little bit therapeutic. It’s a little bit of an escape.
So having that one hour away from work, away from family, away from their phone, so distraction-free, they may want it quite casual just because they want that one hour escape.
But if that’s happening with every client for a trainer, then that’s probably something to be aware of.
If you see a trainer not correcting their client’s technique, then the client either will have the perfect technique or that trainer is not doing their job.
In the gym I was training at before COVID, one trainer especially was really bad with exercise correction. She was preoccupied with trying to get the right angles while filming their client for her Instagram page, which aside from the safety issue, there’s also probably an element of privacy and GDPR there, but that’s not my area of expertise.
So I won’t touch that.
And of course, look at overreaching.
What a lot of people don’t seem to know is that in the UK at least, a person that’s qualified as a personal trainer is not qualified to write meal plans or nutritional plans and definitely not qualified to recommend supplements.
I also don’t think personal trainer insurance covers anyone doing that.
So if you come across a coach or trainer that is stepping into that, then it’s probably wise to tread carefully.
So Is A Personal Trainer Write For You?
When deciding whether you should get a PT or a coach or not, remember:
- they can give you accountability
- they can give you motivation
- they can simplify your training structure
- they can make getting to your goals a smoother and simpler process because they do a lot of the mental gymnastics to figure out how to get there.
There are both good and bad trainers. So you do need to do your homework before signing up with one.
And most importantly, remember that there are no magic pills.
There are no secrets.
So even if you do work with a trainer or coach, you’re still going to need to be the one putting in the work. You’re still going to need to be the one that’s doing the exercises.