One-to-one training can be the best way to get motivated. But what should you look for in a personal trainer?
By Margaret Nicholls
Have you ever thought about hiring a personal trainer? If so, you’re in good company. More and more of us are going for the personal approach when it comes to our health and fitness.
Gym membership has never been higher, with one in seven of us waving goodbye to a chunk of money every month in fees. Yet around half of us sign up to a gym then hardly darken its doors, let alone get on first name terms with the receptionist.
It’s all too easy to find an excuse not to work out. Exercise can be boring and many of us lack the will power to keep it up on a regular basis. That’s where a trainer comes into their own… there’s nothing more motivating than having your own personal motivator.
But motivation is not the only benefit of having a personal trainer. An experienced trainer can assess your physical condition, find out your goals and tailor an exercise programme exactly to your needs. They can give you nutritional advice, keep things fresh and interesting and, importantly, show you how to exercise safely and remain injury free. They can also make working out fun, as long as you find the right person for you.
So how can you find a personal trainer who suits you?
First, you need to consider what you want to get out of your training sessions. ‘Before anything else, you need to decide what it is you want to achieve,’ says Ian Groves, owner of the National Register of Personal Trainers (NRPT).
‘Do you want to improve strength and muscle tone? Do you want to lose weight? Maybe you’re looking to improve your running technique or want to ease yourself back into exercise after an injury.’
It might be that you need a specialist. ‘All experienced trainers will be knowledgeable in general areas of health and fitness,’ says Ian. ‘But some will specialise in areas such as weight lifting, postnatal exercise, back care or injury rehabilitation.’
Where to look for a personal trainer
It’s important to use a trainer who is qualified. The NRPT is a good place to start as everyone on its register needs to have a minimum Level 3 personal training qualification and public liability insurance. ‘We check everyone’s qualifications and documents,’ says Ian.
The NRPT is searchable by London area and you can filter your search to find trainers who specialise in specific disciplines for example, cycling, core conditioning or boxing, if you’re looking for something in particular.
You can also check out the database of the Register of Exercise Professionals (REP) www.exerciseregister.org, a government-backed charity which maintains standards in the fitness industry.
Personal recommendations are a sensible way to find someone, so ask around in your neighbourhood. Trainers often have testimonials on their website, which will give you a good idea of their training style and the results they achieve with other clients.
Where would you like to train?
Think about whether you would prefer working out in a gym, in the open air or in your home. Some personal trainers are flexible about where they conduct sessions, others aren’t.
Personality is important
One-to-one sessions can be intense, so it’s vital that you like your personal trainer and enjoy their style of working. Some of us hate being yelled at and prefer gentle encouragement while others need a more robust approach. What is likely to inspire you and spur you on?
‘We recommend that you chat to a few trainers before making a decision,’ says Ian. ‘Try to get a feel for whether you are likely to enjoy working with them.’ Many trainers are happy to let you do a trial session.
How much will it cost?
In London prices vary from £30 to £100 an hour for one-to-one training, depending on location and how experienced or sought-after the trainer is. It’s worth asking whether they offer a reduced rate for booking block sessions and whether they charge for cancellation.