11 reasons why it may be time to get a new PT

By on September 8, 2017


11 reasons why it may be time to get a new PT

11 reasons why it may be time to get a new PT

Nick Mitchell bodyandsoul.com.au

Thinking of investing in a trainer to hit your goals this spring? Read this no-nonsense guide to make sure you get your money’s worth.

Photo: iStock

The personal training profession is a peculiar one. For a start, there's basically no barrier to entry.

Any idiot can put on a tracksuit and say they're a 'fitness expert' with a qualification from a quick online course. At commercial gyms, where you might expect better, the quality control on this front is sometimes non-existent.

And yet, in the same breath, being a personal trainer is extremely difficult. An effective personal trainer, that is. You need multidisciplinary knowledge to get under the skin of your client, a willingness to put in long hours, and the ability to read how to get the most out of people.

The best personal trainers are genuinely invested in their clients' progress. They care.

Ask yourself: Whatever the profession, how many people do you know who really care about the people they work with?

It's a rare quality in any walk of life; those who demonstrate it go far because they stand out from the crowd.

Personal training is a luxury spend and the best PTs – almost an oxymoron but not quite – don't come cheap.

Here are 11 ways to tell whether you're dealing with a clown rather than a connoisseur.

1 They're more interested in their own reflection

A good personal trainer uses mirrors a lot – but not vainly.

Rather than looking at their own reflection, they should be using the mirror to check your exercise form from every possible angle. This will help them provide cues to correct your form, which always slips as fatigue sets in during a workout.

2. They're as inspirational as a wet lettuce

Part coach, part movement specialist, part motivator, part nutritionist and part inspiration.

You need to be able to look at your trainer and see that he's able to walk his talk.

Does that mean he has to be Mr Universe? Absolutely not.

Do his physique, energy and attitude need to reflect a life well lived and bear the fruits of an effective exercise regimen?

Beyond all measure of doubt.

3. They put you on the treadmill in a session

If this ever happens, fire their ass. No doubt someone reading this will bleat about the usefulness of cardio or the concept of interval training on a treadmill.

Yes, there are exceptional cases – but 99 per cent of the time, if you see a personal trainer standing next to a client who's jogging on a treadmill while paying for the time, then the client is being ripped off.

The average trainer has less than two hours a week with their client, so their focus should always be on quality work and making every single minute count. Your rule of thumb should be that if you can do it by yourself in your own time, then why bother paying for a babysitter?

4. They're less coach, more rent-a-friend

Weak trainers don't have faith in their ability to get results so they live in constant fear of losing clients. Often, the only way they know how to add value is by being a rent-a-friend or 'entertrainer'. Is your lawyer your friend or a trusted adviser? The latter is the type of relationship a quality trainer will always adop

5. There's no record keeping

You're working with a trainer to help you make progress that you wouldn't make working alone. It's an investment, and like any investment, you need to see a quantifiable return. Which is why you need step-by-step records of how you're doing. Trainers who can't be bothered to keep records clearly don't care about your progress.

So you shouldn't pay them your hard-earned money

6. Or plan of attack

If your trainer comes into the gym and wings it, find a new one, pronto. While workouts can change on the fly, there's zero excuse for your trainer to not have prepared the entire session.

He or she should know exercises, weights, rest intervals, even the exercise tempo – and all must point towards your ultimate goals

7. They don't have a results board

Success leaves clues.

So, just as you would get references before hiring a construction firm to do your loft conversion, you should also check out your personal trainer. Videos and photos are the thing to look out for here – evidence that the person you're thinking of hiring has significantly helped people like you in the past. Of course, neither pics nor vids are perfect and there are lots of unscrupulous charlatans out there who will tweak timelines or use Photoshop.

However, by and large, if you find a company with hundreds of results, then you're entitled to feel that you're in safe hands.

8. They say hello and goodbye at the gym door

Being a great personal trainer means being invested in your client's progress and that necessitates a whole array of lifestyle changes, all of which need a mix of support, encouragement, nagging and sometimes even a bit of judicious bullying. This makes the job so much more than a 9-5 and is one of the many reasons why sub-standard trainers are often nothing more than gym babysitters.

9. They fixate on the goal

Good personal trainers should be goal-driven.

If there's no endgame, then you're just arbitrarily hoping for a result.

However, you don't want a trainer who's solely outcome-driven.

If you come to me to lose 10kg and all I care about is the outcome, then I starve you half to death and in no time at all that weight will be lost. Bank transfer will do nicely, thanks very much.

A good trainer takes a different approach. They work with you on achieving your outcome, but also on fixing your behaviours, so that whatever happens to the specific goal, you'll come away with an education, better habits and the understanding that great health and fitness is a lifelong pursuit rather than something that you do for a 12-week training plan.

10. They use their phone

How would you feel if your doctor pulled out his mobile phone mid-consultation and started texting his mate? Your indignation should apply to PTs, too. Far too many commercial gym trainers fail to understand the unacceptable nature of this kind of behaviour.

My personal favourite is the trainer I once saw who had a paying client jogging on the treadmill while he sat on the floor next to the machine, phone in between his legs, a newspaper in his hands and a sandwich and latte by his side!

11. You know them too well

If you know all about their personal life, dogs, bowel movements and what they ate for breakfast, then you've bought yourself a friend, not a trainer.

It's your trainer's job to know everything about you, not vice versa. They need to have a rounded and constantly up-todate perspective on your lifestyle, stress, sleep, and yes, even digestion.

As with the example of the doctor and his phone, you don't ask all about your lawyer's business, so why would you ask about your PT's? If you do know his or her intimate details, then ask yourself: are you acting as an unpaid agony aunt?

Nick Mitchell is the founder of Ultimate Performance, a personal training business with gyms on four continents.

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