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    Picking a Personal Trainer

    Unlike finding a dentist or even a plumber choosing a PT is a whole lot more difficult! If your tooth doesn’t stop aching or your tap doesn’t stop leaking, you know they didn’t do the job correctly and this is a problem you can solve.

    With a PT it’s a different proposition. Mostly you are in a gym and they have trainer’s and you see one that looks fit, seems to be a nice person and has a few clients already. Or a friend recommends someone. Or you see a website or FB page.

    Trainer 1
    Trainer 2
    Trainer 3

    Preceding are 3 trainer’s, which trainer, 1, 2 or 3 seems to know what he or she is doing? Any ideas?

    Anyway once you start with a trainer the problem you face is after the PT session or a few how do you know if it’s working? If you’re tired, “shredded”, wrecked or lying on the floor of the gym in a pool of sweat, they all mean it worked, right? Or at the end the trainer tells you it was a great session and you did awesome and that means it worked, right? It could be that you are measuring your weight or bodyfat or both but this is not evident for at least a few weeks.

    So how do you know it’s working? And more importantly if we go back to the beginning, how do you find a trainer that knows what he or she is doing so whatever it is you do do, it will work? A dentist has the chair, the drill, that sharp, hooked thing that digs in between our teeth. And at the end of it your tooth is either out or filled…..a plumber has all the kit, busies himself turning off the water supply, getting out the wrench and basically doing stuff you have no idea about! And at the end the tap doesn’t leak anymore.

    In personal training equipment are things like dumbbells, kettlebells, barbells, treadmills and machines. They’re not difficult things to navigate enabling even novices to do bicep curls, squats and bench presses. I don’t mean a proper press or squat because that is an entirely different proposition because there is always the right way to do an exercise and plenty of wrong ways of doing them too. So unfortunately the entry level skill-wise for trainers is pretty low and I have witnessed the metamorphosis from “gym goer” to trainer with my own eyes. This is it in a nutshell.

    Bloke walks into a gym one day, gets on YouTube and follows a couple of “celebrity” trainers, gets talking to some of the jacked people training in the gym, swaps tips they’ve seen on the celebrity YouTube channels, talk about how Flex Wheeler did it this way but Ronnie always did it another and after a month or 2 sees himself getting a bit bigger, leaner. His girlfriend tells him he’s looking awesome and others remark he’s lost weight, looks bigger so he’s now beginning the metamorphosis from a rookie to a trainer. 6 months later he pretty much knows everything, he’s been studying online every tidbit he can get and did a fitness course that was originally $99 but got it on Black Friday for $9.90! He chats to the gym owner and says he’d like to do some PT in the evening after work and hey presto, a star is born!

    If you think that story is just that, a story I can assure you it is not. This happens and it happens a lot.

    How does the average person looking for a properly qualified PT go about finding one? To begin with a degree in some type of relevant field should be a starting point. Does this exclude a lot of really talented PT’s that never had the chance to study? No, usually not I am afraid. Maybe there’s some out there, 1 or 2 that come to mind that I personally know but unless you really understand the fundamentals of human physiology you have no business “instructing” anyone on how they exercise. Why?

    As humans we move in patterns, 7 of them and in 3 planes. Moving requires joint mobility, activated muscles and neural/neuroendorine activity all of which combine to create human function as it relates to fitness and health. Proper function creates a balanced hormonal profile and this optimises our muscle and fat ratios, water levels, moods and much more. In a quick paragraph THIS is fitness. Most degree-holding trainers would have studied and be aware of these basics, some may or may not know how to effectively apply them but like the plumber and dentist sometimes they get stuff wrong and need to come back and fix it!

    So what exactly do you need to know to pick a good trainer? I can assure you that a recommendation that this trainer will shred you every time you go into the gym or that trainer trained the Wolverine and he himself looks in great shape are not signs that a trainer knows his/her stuff.

    This is what I suggest you do. Ask the trainer several questions. Ask them what they weigh and what their bodyfat percentage is? There are several reasons for this being highly pertinent. The first is as a trainer he or she should be tracking both these for his or her own record keeping. Weight and/or bodyfat that are rising are signs that you are not keeping fit (usually, there are exceptions of course) and more importantly, not healthy because rising weight is usually a marker of poor health. If they’re not checking these how do they know they are fit and how do they expect a client to do this if they are not? This may seem a bit odd but you expect professionalism right? This is first base in the fitness world.

    Next I would ask them what they have eaten over the past 48-72 hours? A trainer that is obeying the fitness code of keeping things real food-wise should find no issue in doing this. Again if he or she struggles to remember, are they really someone you want to be taking instruction or even tips from? Nearly every great trainer I have met and certainly all I have hired can answer this in a heart beat. Why? Because they’ve created good habits.

    I would also ask them how often they train and what type of training are they doing at the moment? If the answer is, “I always do my usual stuff, back and shoulders, chest and biceps etc” or they tell you they don’t really have a specific type of training I would be concerned. Any good trainer will tell you they are doing something specific, “I am focussing on prehab exercises going into rugby season, soon to move to the heavy compound movements” or “I am focussing on legs as they’re lagging a bit in my general sports performance” or “I am following a program from a ju-jitsu coach/swimming coach etc as I am getting into ju-jitsu or swimming etc”. It could even be they are focussing on all-round strength for body composition gains.

    Whatever it is there must be a focus – no focus means there’s NO PLAN! As you can tell I am fairly adament that there are some basics that all trainer’s should be doing. If they are unable to answer these 3 lines of enquiry with a large degree of confidence then I believe you are wasting your time.

    The last question is this, will they write a program for you and use written session plans every time you train with them?

    I could write an entire post around the importance of session planning as a PT and if a so-called professional is not writing these then you are quite simply not talking to one!

    There we have 4 lines of enquiry that will definitely help you determine whether the PT is someone you can trust in providing you with a professional level of service. Also remember that it is my recommendation they have a related degree or at least a professional PT qualification from an organisation that you can verify its credentials from an online check.

    Finally in the 3 pictures at the top of this post I posed the question which of the 3 trainer’s seems to know what they are doing. What one did you pick? I can tell you Trainer 1 seems to know what he’s doing. His client has excellent back and neck alignment a common error. Often you see people doing this movement (barbell row) with their head up compromising neck/back stability. Also knees are above ankles meaning hamstrings are activated and the upper body is nice and stable and the client is rowing into the belly button and not chest as I see too often. The trainer is cueing the client verbally and giving her space whilst in a good position to see everything that is going on. They are also using excellent equipment, a bar, plates and a lifting platform, all top class kit.

    Trainers 2 and 3 are both touching a client which is unnecessary if communication skills are on par. To me this type of thing indicates a lower level of professional conduct. Finally in both instances quite frankly I have no idea what the exercises are meant to be accomplishing so why these people would use the images in a marketing sense I really don’t know.

    If you read my posts regularly thank you! If you like them please feel free to share them and my site!

    darren@3TRUTHSFitness.com

    www.3TRUTHSFitness.com

    #Building Better Humans

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      Picking a Personal Trainer

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