Personal Training is just that… Personal. Do you feel comfortable telling your trainer about personal issues when appropriate? Do they listen and understand your feedback/concerns? Do they make you feel a sense of achievement? If you’re not fully at ease with your trainer for whatever reason, keep looking until you find one you click with
If your trainer spends more time checking their phone than your form, aside from being exceptionally rude, whilst you’re paying for a trainers time, don’t accept being the third wheel. And if you don’t want to be filmed in the background of their latest InstaStory *insert peach emoji here*, you have every right to tell them so. Move swiftly on.
Your trainer should genuinely care about helping you. You should feel comfortable telling them your aspirations and they should help you get there. Does your trainer make you do exercises that you enjoy or are they making you do workouts that they would do? Just because PT Shane missed his bro sesh yesterday and fancies a go “demonstrating” the leg press, doesn’t mean pilates-loving client Sandy from HR is going to enjoy it too. Find a trainer who appreciates your needs and if they don’t, move swiftly on.
Trainers should ideally provide clients with individualised programming. What works for 65 year old Tim with diabetes, may not work for pregnant Sally, 34. Getting programming inspiration online from reputable sources is completely acceptable, but it should still be fine tuned and adapted so it’s personalised for you. You’re highly unlikely to successfully reach a goal if the methods needed to get there haven’t been thought through. If there seems to be no plan or structure to your training sessions, move swiftly on.
It’s worth mentioning here, that whilst trainers should communicate effectively with their clients, clients should also respect a trainers privacy after training hours. In this age of instant communication, there are no clear boundaries as to whether it’s acceptable to start a conversation at 2am about whether or not the Long Island Ice Tea you might have for dinner on Friday night fits your macros. We’re all accessible 24/7 but some things can be left ’til the morning.
BUT, if your trainer take 5 days to reply to your enquiry about booking your next session, while sometimes they might have genuine reasons, particularly during non-stop, long working hours, it might be time to reassess where you’re spending your money. It’s courteous to let clients know when an enquiry has been received, even if it’s a simple, “sorry working right now will call later” text during a loo break.
Excuses like “I didn’t open my Whatsapp” is the modern day equivalent to “my dog ate my homework”. It may be true, although you did notice they’d have had enough time to ‘like’ videos including “Cat Gets Sausage Stuck In Mouth” on LadBible (honestly… Google it later).
It’s a trainers responsibility to make sure they promptly reply to communication from clients. Inefficiency is not a good look when hawking for new business and word travels fast about Ghosters. Feel like your dealing with a poltergeist instead of a trainer? Move swiftly on.
Are they qualified for “the job”?
Aa a minimum, a PT should have a Level 3 Personal Training certification, but are they qualified in specific areas that best suit you?
In the UK, it is outside the scope of practice for a Level 3 PT to provide a client with a specific meal plan.
Can PTs give general advice on which foods may be most suitable to eat and recommend recipes? Yes.
Can they provide a food diary for you to fill out and advise suitable, more nutritionally beneficial changes? Absolutely.
Can they prescribe a meal plan for special diets or to treat medical conditions? No.
If you need a specific meal plan, the only qualified health professional who should do so is a Registered Dietician (RD). Contact an RD if that’s what you need or get a referral through your GP.
Special populations e.g. Pre/post natal women, those with medical conditions, older adults, children or disabled clients
There are factors that need to be fully understood and taken into account when training certain demographics of people. For example, there are particular exercises pre/post natal women should not do, to prevent any risk of harm to the mother or baby. Likewise, clients with certain medical conditions should look for a trainer who is also qualified in a specific area, such as an Exercise Referral Specialist for stabilised conditions including but not limited to asthma, diabetes, obesity or arthritis, Level 4 Lower Back Pain, Level 4 Cardiac Rehab, among others.
Do your research and ask questions if you think you may need specialised training. If you don’t think your trainer fits the bill for the kind of training you need, move swiftly on!
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.