Personal Trainers: the whys and wherefores


There are so many reasons why to consult a personal trainer – and there are many different types of personal trainer to consult. Many people may doubt the value of a PT, others may be put off by the idea of someone pushing them too hard, while many simply don’t appreciate the benefits a PT can offer. Modern social media has brought many benefits, but it also seems to have a lot to answer for. In the case of fitness, PT’s seem to have become associated with ‘rock hard abs’, extreme fitness regimes or miracle 6,8 or 12-week programmes. Yet there is a whole echelon of PT specialists who are only too eager to provide assistance to more down to earth issues for anyone, at any level, wishing to improve their fitness, no matter their age or experience.

Perhaps the most important point to understand is not only do we all have different needs and goals in the areas of physical health, but many of these priorities also change as we age. What a good PT can do is both help achieve fitness goals, but perhaps more important help clients to better understand their bodies, correct physical issues that may have built up over time and ensure that as we age we continue to enjoy the benefits of mobility and flexibility in our lives. And it is never too early – or too late – to start. The job of the PT is to help you on this journey, whether just a few sessions for some basic analysis and to set up an exercise regime, or for a more long-term relationship.

What to look for in a PT

Many elements may be considered when choosing a PT. Naturally they should have accreditation and insurance; don’t be afraid to ask questions, and expect insightful answers, but the big point is: are they a good fit for you and for what you require? Do they specialise on the area of training you wish to focus upon? Can you establish good personal chemistry? Or perhaps you might prefer to focus purely on the results you might expect, having seen what the trainer can do for others.

Whatever your method of evaluation I think there are some standard core competencies that should be taken into consideration and which every PT should be measured against, to give you both the best chance of success. I believe in keeping training as simple as possible. A great PT can take what can be a complex analysis of your personal needs but explain what is required in simple terms and produce a straightforward training regime that will deliver results.

  • The techniques recommended in the exercise routines should preferably be based on scientific evidence that they can produce the promised progress.
  • Don’t be taken in by fads or gimmicks – whatever is being recommended should be based on tried and tested methods. You should not be a guinea pig!

For example, in the case of building strength, whether you are an athlete or a member of the general public, the aim should be for you to establish a foundation of movement and be able to perform squats, presses, rows, overhead lifts, deadlifts and unilateral movements. No matter your level these movements should always have a place in your training program. These will never change with time. The first step will be for the PT to make sure the movement can be executed correctly. Once that is cemented, then you can move on to focusing on performance, lifting more weight or executing at a higher velocity. Movement first then performance.

Characteristics of a great coach

To my mind the relationship between client and PT is paramount. My aim as a Master Trainer is to help people achieve their goals. I provide knowledge and advice on the most effective path to success. However, the client must do the work. This means tailoring programmes to fit the client’s personal situation is essential. It’s no use me designing a regime built around a daily session if the client has a stressful job and family that constrains the amount of weekly time available; if the routine is not achievable, then the goals will not be achieved – which will be failure for us both.

It’s all about the client

As a Master Trainer it’s all about efficiency – helping my clients max their achievements for minimum effort. Whatever their age, I leave enjoying the benefits up to them!

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Alex is a registered Master Trainer and Nutritional Advisor with Level 4 qualifications in obesity and diabetes. He is also a strength specialist and a Ni Dan in Shotokan Karate.

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