Once you’ve established their professional credentials — that is, that they’re qualified, registered and insured as a personal trainer — it’s time to get down to the nitty-gritty.
Questions to ask
- How long have they been working as a personal trainer?
- What sort of clients have they had/do they have, and what sort of results have they helped them achieve? Ask for references and make sure you contact the referees. Ask them about the trainer’s good and bad (if any) points, how the trainer helped them achieve their goals, and their overall experience with them.
- When are they able to exercise with you, and do these days/times suit you?
- How much does it cost per hour or session (per person if there are two or more of you)? Are there packages available? If the session takes place in a gym, does the fee include entry to the gym (unless you’re already a member)?
- How do you pay (cash, credit card, direct debit etc) and how often (by the session, or do you have to commit yourself to paying for a block of sessions)?
- How much does the initial consultation cost? Is there a complimentary workout session (or a discount on the first week, say) to establish whether you suit each other?
- How much notice do you need to give for cancellation, and what are the penalty fees?
- What sort of exercise options do they offer? Is it based in the open air (local park or beach), at your home or in a gym?
- If they’re not registered, are they qualified in first aid and cardio-pulmonary resuscitation (CPR)? (Being up-to-date in these areas is a requirement of registration).
- How long is a session? What do you need to bring?
The first meeting
Your first meeting will ideally take the form of a consultation and fitness test, not a full-on workout. This is to allow the personal trainer to devise an appropriate program for you. Ask in advance what will happen at this session, but you’d expect something along the following lines:
- They’ll ask you about your overall health and health history, including illnesses and injuries, family history and diet and nutrition issues; your health and fitness goals; and what sort of activities you enjoy.
- If you’re over 40, haven’t exercised for a long time, are overweight or have a chronic medical condition, they should recommend you get medical clearance before starting an exercise program.
- They should assess your current fitness, which may include cardio-respiratory function tests; weight, height and body fat measurements; posture, flexibility and muscular strength.
You need to be able to trust, respect and feel comfortable with your personal trainer, so your personal relationship is an important factor in your success. If they don’t seem genuinely interested in you and your goals, make you feel overly self-conscious or embarrassed or you just don’t click, it might be best to try someone else.
More obvious problems include an intimidating manner, a ‘no pain, no gain’ mentality, unreliability (being late for appointments or cancelling at short notice), a tendency to overwhelm you with jargon, or being more interested in your wallet than you.
If, on the other hand, they’re friendly and likable, inspire your confidence in them and in yourself, communicate well, ask you plenty of questions and are happy to answer yours, and are generally pleasant to spend your time with, you’re more likely to get a lot more out of your sessions.
Remember, you are paying them, so it’s your choice as to whether you carry on with them.