12 ways to choose your PT

By on April 1, 2015

Choosing the right coach or personal trainer (PT) is so important not just to help you reach your goals, but also to ensure you are not getting screwed over, both in health and money!

So here is my check-list for you to follow before hiring:

#1 Check qualifications

The problem with the fitness and nutrition industry is that most of the qualifications and courses are unregulated and do not stay up to date with the latest research.These days, anybody can call themselves a ‘health coach’ ‘lifestyle specialist’ or ‘diet liaison officers.’

Therefore there are a couple of things to keep a look out for when choosing a PT.

  • Do they have a recognised degree?
  • Do they hold a PT qualification and is it accredited by Reps (UK) National Commission for Certifying Agencies (US)?

There are loads of personal trainer qualifications and some of them are not good! However, the best and most recognised qualifications can be obtained from accredited bodies. Accreditation serves as an external audit to help to ensure the health, welfare, and safety of the public through the evaluation of the qualification and organisation running the course.

– Do they hold any specialised qualifications like, strength & conditioning, rehab, nutrition, sports masseuse etc.

– Do they attend conferences, exhibitions, read the latest research, and stay up to date with the industry?

#2 Check reviews

Apart from making sure reviews are real, try and talk to their other clients and see how they have helped them, and what feedback they have about them.

Check out reviews of your PT before committing to one

Check out reviews of your PT before committing to one

#3 Can the PT be easily contacted?

You obviously do not want to be travelling miles and miles and you also want to be able to contact them if you have any questions or queries, so find out where they are based and what hours they work. There are also many on-line trainers and coaches, the same standards exist for them.

With online, it’s important to ask that you will receive a custom program. This would mean you provide them with a lot of up front information (sometimes baselines tests for power, endurance, measurements etc.) depends on the sport and your goal.

Bottom line is you shouldn’t receive a program within 5 minutes of signing up.

#4 Do they try and sell you something right away?

If a trainer is only interested in making money when you first meet them then run! This could be a programme, diet plan, supplements and even clothing.

#5 Determine how much you want to pay

Some trainers cost more than others, maybe because of popularity or because of qualifications, however this does not always mean they are the best PT or even the best for you.

Do you require a specialist in a certain subject? This may result in you requiring a more expensive PT. For example you may have very specific goals (powerlifting, bikini comp) so choosing a PT who has achieved and/or worked with competitors in the past may be worth it.

Sometimes the help they provide is so valuable it is priceless, but know how much you are willing to spend before choosing.

It is important to understand getting the cheapest PT may help a little in the short term, but think long term. You obviously want the PT you ultimately hire to help you with training, nutrition, motivation, lifestyle etc. so the cheapest one may not be best!

#6 What kind of packages do you offer?

Some PT’s offer 1-2-1 while others offer 1-2-2 or group sessions.Sometimes the more sessions you buy, the cheaper it will be so ask.  Also ask about payment options too, whether a full payment is expected up front.

#7 Ask them a training and nutrition question

Fitness and nutrition knowledge is a main reason why you want a PT, so your trainer should be able to talk about a variety of training styles and dieting approaches, along with their advantages and disadvantages.

They should not necessarily be an expert in all topics, but if he does not know the answer he should seek advice and get back to you. Not BS his way to answering you. Hopefully any PT is continuing reading, watching, trailing, and attending conferences to learn more and more.

So ask them a related question and see how they answer.

#8 Does the programme and diet he prescribes the same for everyone?

No PT should be married to one particular protocol.There is no right or wrong approach to training and nutrition, but the best approach is the one that a client enjoys and can stick to. This is why the upfront information or meeting you both have initially will be key.Any protocol should also take the clients preferences, goals, lifestyle, medical status, training history into consideration.

#9 He should always be willing to answer questions before any payment!

#10 What does he look like?

Now I am the first to admit not every PT and fitness expert has to be jacked and have a 6 pack every day of the year, but you would not be hiring someone that doesn’t look like they have ever stepped in a gym before would you?

*Note – When it comes to coaching sports, some of the coaches have never played, only coached and therefore can be overweight etc. Also for some individuals specifically the plus size community they may feel more comfortable with someone who is closer to their own weight but has more knowledge and been through the same pain and training.

On the other hand though do not let looks and body image influence you decision too the point that you only want to work with someone with massive muscles and abs, or a great bum and legs. What approach they might have used might not be best or adequate for you!

Make sure your PT understands your physique goals

Make sure your PT understands your physique goals

#11 Do they perform a body/fitness assessment?

Your trainer should not only be able to make a personalised training programme but also assess your starting point and progress. Measuring variables such as; body measurements, body fat testing, movement screenings, blood pressure, strength, flexibility and endurance tests will help and PT gauge your progress.

It also allows them to design a safe exercise programme.

#12 What is their coaching style and personality?

Everyone learns differently, and everyone gets along differently.

Some learn through demonstration, some learn through listening and practising.

When it comes to PT-client relationship, their personality and coach style is crucial.

Bottom Line –

You are hiring this person to help you reach your goals and improve your health so you want the best possible PT for you!

Treat your first encounter like an interview, take your time to make your decision and do not be afraid to ask them questions and how they can help you. Listen to your gut a bit, how to you connect with them?

Are they paying attention to you? Showing genuine interest or do they seem distracted and disconnected? No need to make a decision on the spot. Explore others and then make an informed decision.

Always choose a PT that you get along with and one who takes your preferences and needs into account.

Making the right choice can mean the difference between achieving your goals or failing and causing health issues or setbacks.

Scott Edmed

About Scott Edmed

I am currently serving the Royal Air Force as a pilot with a huge passion for nutrition and training, having competed in physique competitions and playing rugby and cricket for the RAF.