10 things to look for in a personal trainer

16 February 2016

Investing in a personal trainer is a big decision and a financial commitment – but it can be life-changing. We’ve spoken to lots of clients and friends to help compile a top 10 list to help you choose the right one.

1. Experience

It’s the first thing employers look for and should be the first question you ask too. What brought them to personal training? What qualifications do they have? You may prefer to work with someone with years of experience with a variety of customers or you may prefer a specialist, but you need to ask to find out!

“I’d want a PT who likes the same sports as me, so they can help me train appropriately,” T. Barter

“They have to know nutrition too, you can’t do one without the other,” S. Sugden

2. Intuition
The clue is in the title – your trainer is personal to you, so they need to get you. They need to understand what’s going to work specifically for you, not just treat you like every other client.

“A good PT shouldn't look at areas of the fitness industry through a straw. They need to understand that the physical body is only one area and there are other dimensions of the human body that need to be considered like the mind and spirit. They are all interlinked.” A. Wong Kee, JAB's MD

3. Communication
You need to clearly express what you want to get out of the relationship and your PT needs to take the time to explain the process. Good lines of communication will be key so that you always feel you can ask questions.

“Today's lifestyle creates high levels of stress and toxicity, so our aim is to increase awareness first and then get agreements that the client will take active steps in reducing those areas red flagged.” - A. Wong Kee, JAB’s MD. 

4. Flexibility
While personal training sessions are a commitment, there has to be some form of flexibility for when life gets in the way. Make sure you’re clear on any conditions, like cancellation policies.

“I’m pretty busy, work isn’t just 9-5 for me, I might need to reschedule, so I’d need my trainer to understand that,” T. Barter

5. Location
Where you train can have a big impact on how you train. While many PTs work in gyms, others will come to you or have agreements with other facilities, like local parks. Be open to discussing which setting and equipment will be best for helping you reach your goals.

“I love how targeted you can be with the gym equipment, I feel like my workout there really makes every second count,” K. McAllister

6. Price
Value for money is always key, so choose carefully. Some trainers are happy to simply design a workout programme, others provide a full package with nutrition plans and in-depth assessments. Consider your goals and whether a basic package will get you there. It might be worth spending a little extra.

“I’ll pay it if I get the results in the timescale” T. Barter

“I paid up front for a block of six sessions but had flexibility when I could use them, that combination worked well for me,” K. McAllister

7. Recommendations
A good trainer will always be happy to provide references. It’s always wise to ask around too for the little details that can tell you a lot about a trainer’s philosophy.

“I was so pleased to get some time with my trainer – the way everyone raved about him I thought he’d be booked solid!” K. Lee

8. Attention to detail
From correcting your posture to listening carefully – a good PT will be 100% focused on you for the duration of your session. If they’re at all distracted or careless call them on it immediately – or change trainers.

“My trainer would text me between workouts to make sure I was eating properly. I really appreciated that she cared that much – and it kept me on track!” S. Kirkwood

9. Customer Service
Like any business, a PT has to be professional in all their dealings with you. They should be punctual, organised, dressed appropriately (not all sweaty from a previous client) and pleasant. You have to be satisfied you’re getting value for money.

“He would always stay an extra five minutes to answer any questions, I never felt like he was clock-watching,” K. McAllister

10. Compatibility
A good trainer invests in you as much as you invest in them, for the best results you have to be equally committed. Most PTs will adopt the approach that works best for the client, but inevitably there can be a personality clash or an incompatibility of style. Take the time to chat and figure out if you can get on with them personally before committing to a programme.
“I think you work harder when you don’t want to let your trainer down,” T. Barter

Article by: Andrew Wong Kee 
Managing Director & Head Trainer 
JAB Mixed Martial Arts