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Is your Personal Trainer any good?

6 key things to think about....

I've been in the fitness industry fast approaching 15 years and in this time I have worked in many capacities and trained hundreds of people to get fitter and healthier. I have worked within fitness education, training and assessing up and coming personal trainers. During these 15 years I have seen the good, the bad and the ugly sides of the industry.

'Personal Training should be fun, challenging and individualised to you'

Personal Training should be a fun, challenging and individualised to you and your goals. But all to often this can fall short, leaving the client out of pocket, no further forward with their goals and in some cases with a bitter experience with personal training.

With the experience and insight I have amassed, let me take you through the 6 key things your personal trainer should be doing and what you should be expecting from your fitness journey.

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1. Consultation

No credible personal trainer will ever just start you off training. Period. How many times have you approached or rang the trainer having never initially meet them to then start training the next session? Personal Training, the first word here is crucial, personal. It can only be personal if the trainer understands you. Your lifestyle, your job, your exercise history, previous or ongoing injuries, nutrition, your commitments... you get the idea, to make a plan that will work, all of your lifestyle factors need to be taken into consideration to give you every chance of success.

During this consultation and depending on the conversation you have having with your lifestyle and goals, your trainer should be then assessing various health and fitness factors. If your wanting to trim down, we need to know where your body fat percentage is. If you want to get strong and lift some weights, we need to understand whether your posture and range of movement is ready for that challenge. Assessing is vital for progress and accountability. Its great to visibility see your body shape has changed, but measuring the progress is vital for continued success. Knowing that on day one your body fat was at 35% and after several weeks of hard work in the gym and dedication to your nutrition your body fat is now 28% with room for continued improvement.

Now importantly during this consultation your trainer should listen more than speak. After all your the ones with all the key information the trainer needs.

'lifestyle factors need to be taken into consideration to give you every chance of success'

2. Plan of Action

Following the assessment, you should have a clear idea of the goal and importantly how you are going to achieve this and a rough timescale this should take if things go well. A good trainer will explain and share the programme with you, the ins and outs and why they are wanting to do specific training with you. Regrettably I often see trainers making up sessions and programmes as they go… Meaning the consultation and assessment the may have done, they haven't used any of the information so ultimately it was a waste of time.

Your plan and goal setting should be smart. I mean S.M.A.R.T. Specific to you and your goals. Want to burn fat? We should be taking your current fitness level and experience and helping you burn some calories with some cardio exercises and a few bits of resistance work. Want to run a half marathon? We should be building up your cardio, getting you jog/run ready and then building up the running. Measurable goals help us track progress and see if things are working. Body fat loss? We need to track the percentage. Half marathon? We need to track the mileage. Achievable goals is simply can your goal be done in the timeframe you are asking, Realistic goals apply the individual circumstance. For example losing 2lb per week of weight and hopefully fat is achievable, however it isn't realistic if the individual is not open and committed to being more active and being more dedicated with their nutrition. Time bound, you should have an idea of achievable and realistic time you should be meeting your goal. Want to lose a stone in body fat? that's going to take 2lb a week for 7 weeks with potentially a couple of weeks to slowly change exercise and eating habits to move you into a calorie deficit.

Seriously with no plan, no thorough process, no starting point, do you really think you’ll achieve your goals? No, neither do I.

3. One Size Fit All?

As a client this one is easy to spot, before deciding to invest in a PT, go watch them or even ask to speak to their current clients and what sort of exercises they do? If they are truly personalising sessions for each of their clients the sessions will be different. I regularly see trainers do the exact same session for every client simply because it worked for one client. Not personal, not geared to individual ability levels, no thought about overall goals.

4. Form vs Effect?

On a one to one level is your trainer more focused on delivering the hardest session and looking to beast you into submission? Or are they focused on how you are moving? Form, and good posture should be the cornerstone to all programmes. If the personal trainer has assessed well, they will have identified form that needs to worked on, posture that needs aligning and muscle groups that need flexibility training. Hard work is needed to be successful, but so is moving well and ensuring specific muscles are used and joint actions are optimal. This may lengthen the time you get a particular goal but they are vital to ensure you train well, avoid injury and ultimately improve your fitness and lifestyle. I regularly see trainers with poor form, so chances are if they have poor form, they teach poor form. Bad trainers won’t comment/ review / move your body into the positions it should be working in.


One successful tool I regularly use with clients is videoing their form and talking through the video with them, helping them to see what I see and having a better outcome in the improvement of the clients form.

'form and good posture should be the cornerstone to all programmes'

5. Nutrition

Put simply unless they have a degree to prove it, Personal Trainer are not Dieticians or Nutritionists. They do not have the necessary knowledge, skill or qualification to delve into individual needs especially if you have some unique issues such as diabetes, intolerances or even deficiencies. They should be offering advice based on healthy eating that help fuel your lifestyle . A bad trainer will offer advice around cutting out food (usually carbs) groups or overloading particular food groups (usually protein). Supplements are huge business are make up a multimillion pound industry but the truth is the majority of people DO NOT need any form of supplement if you are eating a well balanced diet, much like the trainer should be encouraging. If your trainer is suggesting you need to be taking supplements, and funnily enough it’s the ones they are selling, unfortunately they care more about the money in their pockets than your health. If this is your trainer… RUN A MILE.


But a good personal trainer with nutrition in mind, can help you find out how many calories you need to consume to help reach goals, and offer support and advice based on healthy eating guidelines.

6. Engaged.

So far so good. you've had a consultation and assessment, there is a plan and a goal and your enjoying the exercises but the trainer doesn't really seem present. Let's go back to the key word in personal training... personal. Every client I have ever worked with I have needed to build a personal working relationship with. Engaging with the individual, understanding what motivates them, when they are having a bad day, knowing the pressures they are under only enhances the relationship and as direct result the training and goal outcomes. This can take time and a poor trainer simply won’t look to build this relationship and here are a few signs to look out for:

1. they never check in with you via a message/text/phone call, they don’t ask you how you’ve been getting on since the last meet.

2. They don’t pay attention to your form. Sometimes they aren't even looking at you whilst you perform an exercise.

3. They check social media whilst you train.

4. The regularly make other idle conversation with other trainers and clients

5. They don’t make eye contact when they talk to you. They are not engaged in YOU.

Overall Personal Training should be personal. With this in mind, if a trainer can meet and exceed the 6 key aspects above then the training will be personal and goals will be achieved safely and effectively. If you have any questions about fitness and personal training, why not get in touch with us at Witness The Fitness Training Studios.