Crossfit, Hannah Elizabeth Photographer, Weightlifting, Sport Photographer, Barbell, CrossFit City Road, CrossFit UK

Considerations : Choosing A Trainer

There are many reasons why personal training (PT) can be a fantastic investment. But how do you know you’re hiring the right one? What qualities should they possess? Consider the following before hiring a Trainer to make sure you’ll get the most from the experience. 

Crossfit, Hannah Elizabeth Photographer, Weightlifting, Sport Photographer, Barbell, CrossFit City Road, CrossFit UK

Are they properly qualified?

In the UK, fitness instructors should have a minimum of Level 2 Fitness Instructor Qualification. Personal Trainers have to do Level 2 first, then gain a minimum of Level 3 Personal Training in order to conduct 1-1 sessions.

Check that their courses are accredited by a professional body such as Active IQ, SportsActive, REPs (Register of Exercise Professionals) or CIMSPA (Chartered Institute for the Management of Sport and Physical Activity).

If you have a medical condition and/or are pre/post natal, look for trainers who also hold additional qualifications to teach specialist populations.

CrossFit operates differently and is self regulated. Anyone who advertises themselves as a CrossFit coach must have a minimum of CrossFit Level 1 Certification.

Think of the cost as an investment in your health

Trainers charge anywhere from £30-£100+. A higher price doesn’t necessarily mean you’ll get better results but equally if the trainer has access to a well equipped gym and has completed no end of qualifications to further their learning in areas that are relevant to you, this could certainly be a better investment.

Price is also influenced by location so be realistic about budget. Trainers in Central London for example, where the cost of gym rental space is very high, will most likely cost more than a community gym out in the sticks. When you hire a PT, you’re not only paying for their time but for the cost of gym rental that trainers have to pay in order to train you, insurance, personalised programmes, their qualifications and experience.

Think about what you want

  • Are you happy to workout at a community gym? Which may be a cheaper option but perhaps not have the equipment you want?
  • Do you need specialised training? I.e. Due to a medical condition or because you want something sports specific?
  • Would you like to train at a boutique studio? With upmarket-hotel-bathroom-esque changing rooms, pumping music and Instagrammable decor?
  • Are you looking for help training for a competition or event? Would you benefit from a trainer who has competition experience?
  • Would you like to train outdoors? If so, does the trainer have an option for when the weather is bad? If not, are you happy to work out in the rain? (NB: It can be quite liberating!)

All of these factors play a part in the final price of how much you should expect to be paying.

Is the Trainer keen to learn and develop their skills?

There are always new scientific findings being released about fitness and nutrition. Are they keeping up to date with new research? Are they developing their skills? They should be. A trainer who is willing to keep learning and be open to new research findings can provide you with the most up to date information, which will be of great benefit to you. A willingness to learn is an attractive trait in anyone and trainers should be no exception.

In order to have a renewed membership for REPs (Register of Exercise Professionals, the regulating body for those working in the fitness industry), trainers have to prove they’re continuing to build on their knowledge.

Probe into their training background

What sports do they do or have done in the past?

I’ve known PTs, who’ve tried to wing it with clients, having barely exercised at all themselves. This is not good. How can a trainer relate to their client if they’ve not experienced the types of movement they’re trying to teach? Aside from that, a PT who’s passionate about health and exercise will be able to share their love for it, which may inspire you to try something new. They don’t need to be an ex-Olympian, but they should partake in very regular exercise. Practice what you preach and all that.

A trainer who’s being actively involved in sports may also have sustained niggles and/or injuries, from which they’ve successfully recovered. They’ll likely be able to spot and consequently reduce the risk of you making the same mistakes, having learnt from their own.

Good Rapport

Working relationships are always better when you get along. A good trainer will want to get to know you and learn about your likes/dislikes/goals/barriers to training etc. Don’t be afraid to ask them questions so you can get to know them too.

The better you get along, the more likely you are to look forward to your session and therefore stay committed, which is vital for improvement. You don’t have to be BFFs… Keep it professional, but having a good rapport definitely makes for a better experience.

Bogus PT? Do Your Research

The amount of unqualified “trainers” selling fitness programmes online is unbelievable. Pseudo science and misinformation is regularly dished out over the internet by self proclaimed “Fit Pros”. This is irresponsible in so many way, including potentially putting clients at risk of injuring themselves when they inevitably try and copy a workout promoted by a bogus “trainer”.

Check a trainers website to see whether they’re properly qualified. I’ve seen so many Social(media)ites selling programmes who use a very small font to state, “So-And-So is not a qualified personal trainer” in the disclaimer. FACE PALM. Be suspicious of any supposed trainer who fails to mention their qualifications anywhere on their website. No mention usually equates to no qualifications.

& Remember…

Correlation does not always equal causation i.e. Just because someone recovered from an illness after changing their eating habits, doesn’t necessarily mean their new gluten/sugar/dairy-free-headstands-on-the-beach-banana-diet is what made them better. Equally, just because someone won a fitness modelling competition, doesn’t mean they are equipped to train others, unless they are also a qualified trainer.

People are welcome to share their personal experiences and fitness methods online, this can certainly be insightful and inspirational, but personal experience does not necessarily equate to the ability to safely teach others.

Insurance issues aside (trainers can’t usually get insurance if they can’t provide evidence of qualifications), there’s a reason why industries have regulated governing bodies… To keep people safe. Look out for yourself and do your research.


Hannah Elizabeth is a L3 Personal trainer and L2 fitness instructor, currently studying L3 Exercise Referral and L4 Lower Back Pain Management. She is also a sports photographer, Pole Dancer and 53kg Olympic Weightlifter.
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