8 things to expect from a kick-ass personal trainer

By Lee Jay

Amidst the hustle and bustle of our modern-day lives, where we juggle work, play and personal wellbeing, having a personal trainer to call your own is oh so #trendy.

As the health & fitness industries dominate more area of our lives - what we eat, what we wear and how we work out - personal trainers are enjoying an ongoing boost in demand. Don't believe me? A mere glance at data from IBISWorld reveals that even as unemployment falls, in contrast, an interest in trainers is on the rise. This is mainly fueled by the global hike in obesity rates, improved awareness of how to lead a healthy lifestyle, and a need for growth within this market.

Alongside a host of benefits, trainers are essentially there to keep you on a steady track toward the peak of your goals. But with an influx of unregulated courses only a few clicks away, and more freelance trainers branching out into the big bad world, it's important to put in the groundwork on your quest for that shining star of a trainer.

Simply put, with your wellbeing at stake, you deserve to find a top-notch trainer who ticks all the boxes.

Here are 8 things to consider on your mission to find the most kick-ass PT in town.

1. They have an up to date and accredited qualification

Whilst gyms and studios are brimming with exceptional trainers, unfortunately, many unqualified PTs, masked as professionals, are illegally clocking up the dollars from unaware clients. A legally qualified PT will have an up-to-date certificate from a recognized awarding body and basic CPR training.

It's also important to check your training is performing within their skillset. For example, working with specific populations, such as youth or the elderly, or specializing in a distinctive area, like functional training, will require enhanced training and certification.

By all means, you can ask to see qualifications and quiz them on their experience. A trainer who knows their sh*t, and with nada to hide, won't blink twice.

2. Are they professional in their approach?

There's a fine line between PT and friend. Yes, this should be someone you connect with (more on that later), but during that hour, set aside specifically for training, you should be doing just that. A trainer's personal business is not for blabbing during your workout - save it for the bar.

On a similar topic, trainers should not, under any circumstance, be hitting on their clients. It's against our code of ethics and can lead down a risky path.

It's also within a PT's professional obligation to maintain the privacy of sensitive client information, meaning no discussing your personal profile with anyone but you. At the end of the day, you are paying for a service, and with that, you can, and should, expect a high level of customer service for your buck.

3. This person does relevant background research

On the subject of professionalism, a sound PT will do their background research and discuss your needs with you one-on-one. What is your history and experience with exercise? Any new or old injuries? How about your general health and readiness to exercises? Expect an initial consultation with your prospective PT before committing to any sessions.

A consultation is also an opportunity to discuss and sign forms relating to your general health, any medications regularly taken, an agreement to exercise, and perhaps even a contract outlining session and payment terms. These documents are there to protect both parties.

4. You should have a connection

As touched upon before, connecting with your trainer is crucial for a number of reasons. This is someone you are putting your trust in to have your best interests at heart. With many clients partaking in multiple training sessions a week, equating to a fair bit of one on one time, a positive connection should be established.

Not feeling it? That's fine! Move on to someone you spark with for your own comfort and enjoyment of workouts.

5. They will discuss and implement a plan for your goals

The cornerstone to a successful PT is the ability to lay out the steps toward achieving your goals. This will require a specific order and timeline of exercises, workout types and movement variations, depending on what you've set out to do. Most clients hire a trainer with a specific goal in mind - from building muscle, to losing weight and increasing cardio.

A dedicated trainer will possess the skillset to set a weekly 'bitesize' plan, so you can easily conceptualize and visualize the journey leading up to those goals. Take the time to discuss these goals periodically - it's perfectly normal for them to shift gear over the course of your sessions.

6. A tailored workout is provided for each session

You have a goal in mind, a plan has been drawn, and now its time for your PT to conjure kick-ass tailored workouts to test your limits. Many clients fall victim to lazy trainers, who churn out the same old workout time and time again - don't let this happen to you!

Workouts should be both challenging and progressive in nature to push you as personal abilities improve. If you feel the sessions are too tough to manage, or, on the flip side, overexerting beyond your capacity, have a chat with your PT who will make the necessary tweaks.

7. They motivate you during every workout

When the going gets tough, your PT will be your biggest cheerleader. Some days, remaining laser-focused is an uphill struggle. Others, increasing the load on your barbell squats may be your Everest. A trainer's job is to encourage, motivate and push you to surpass your limit, ensuring each and every workout counts. Many trainers will even go the extra mile - from playing your favorite jams during your set, to sending articles of interest to spur you on.

Individual trainers will demonstrate a motivating style of their own, dependent on their personality, the workout and the client. Some people relish in discipline, whilst others seek a softer approach. Work with a PT who inspires you with ambitious, diverse and creative workouts to keep you on your toes.

8. They are superlative teachers

As PTs, we would love nothing more than to work with our clients forevermore. In reality, circumstances change, relocations occur, financial issues arise and sessions come to a natural endpoint and the parting of ways. Or, in another scenario, trainers may work with a client once or twice a week, setting independent sessions in between.

If a trainer has done their job well, then you, the client, will be able to challenge, motivate, and push yourself on the gym floor - and with perfect form! PTs are teachers in the sense that we explain the hows and whys of performing exercises, the benefit of doing so, and the importance of body position to avoid injury and achieve results.

Be curious, ask questions and soak it up like a sponge. Ready to boss it on the gym floor?