Choosing the right personal trainer for your Health and Fitness

I wanted to write this blog post to help all the people that were considering hiring a personal trainer to help them achieve their goals. It’s also for those of you out there who have a personal trainer at the moment and want a benchmark to rate their performance.

I understand that it can be a big commitment financially and a very important decision. I will try to be as un-biased as possible, bringing to the fore my 15 years of experience in the health and fitness industry.

I have been a personal trainer in the UK and UAE for over 13 years and I have come across some of the best and some of the worst personal trainers from all over the world. Some of the things I have seen have amazed and dismayed me in equal measure.

I have learnt from leading experts all over the world what it takes to be an outstanding personal trainer on a spiritual, emotional and physical level and I will give you a few guidelines of what to look for and what to expect.

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Firstly I need to cover the basics, now I know this might sound boring but believe me it is one of the most important factors when choosing a personal trainer.

  • Is the personal trainer punctual? Did he/her turn up to the consultation on time? If not did they apologise profusely and promise they are not normally late?
  • Do they stick to their commitments? For example did they keep their initial appointment and leave the full allotted time to conduct the consultation?

Before you get bored let me just highlight how important these basic factors are. I have come into contact and worked with and in partnership with numerous personal trainers, health coaches and therapists in my time. The ones that consistently change their Clients sessions timings around, turn up late to sessions, over run in others, forget to follow-up and show a general sense of tardiness in their professionalism are generally the ones to stay away from. Although these types of coaches may have brilliant technical knowledge this is useless if they can’t turn up to their sessions on time or deliver the follow-up plan they promised in a timely manner.

Some other basic requirements to look out for from a personal trainer are:

Do they give you their full attention?
If their attention is distracted or worse yet, if they are answering texts or their mobile during your session unless it’s an emergency, then these are the types of personal trainers to stay away from.

Do they look professional, clean and tidy?
If not, the way they take care of themselves is probably the way they are going to treat you.

Are they confident and friendly?
Is the personal trainer you meet for a consultation or you are working with currently a friendly person who seems to be passionate about health and fitness? If the personal trainer is good at what they do then after they have gained a certain amount of experience they should be confident and it should leak out of them and make an impression on you.

Now let’s get into some of the technical elements of a successful personal trainer:

  • Do they have at least a basic knowledge of health coaching and how the whole can affect the parts? What I mean is do they have an appreciation for factors like how a very stressful lifestyle will make intense exercise very destructive to your health?
  • Does your personal trainer know how imbalances in the six foundational health principles can have a profound effect on your results in the gym?
  • Elements like your digestive system health, your diet, your circadian health (your sleep/wake cycles) and how clean your body is?

I mention this because a personal trainer should have studied health coaching or at least work in partnership with a health coach because often imbalances in the systems I have just mentioned are some of the most significant blocking factors when it comes to weight loss or feeling better.

Does the personal trainer have a full diet system? Realise I highlighted system.

Just having some general recommendations is not good enough; of course it’s very easy to go off track with a general guideline. Imagine a business that uses some general guidelines for its accounts department and not a system of systems? The company would be bankrupt in no time at all.

For effective body fat loss your personal trainer needs to give you an exact system to follow, one that will show you when you have gone off track and what exactly to do to get right back on track. Sure this plan should be tailored to you if necessary but it should definitely be an exact system.

Does your personal trainer know the difference between free weight/body weight exercises and machines?

I am not going to say that free weights are always better, in fact they have a place in a some peoples training protocols, depending on their goals, especially for a body builder at certain times. However free weights are generally much better than machines for Mr Joe Blogs who wants to lose body fat and gain some muscle tone.

Free weights are the natural way to workout, do you think a cavewoman/man ever sat in a chair pushing a bar with resistance against it with no control or balance necessary? No, they used to lift logs, animals and fight for their survival. This is the way the body is genetically programmed to move, on top of this free weights work more muscles to balance and stabalise you and this adds significantly to the calorie burning affect. Also the body is not designed to move in one exact plan of motion without varying degrees of movement so free weights fill these criteria. One of the most important points is that when you’re in a machine there is no balance and coordination involved therefore you are developing very strong muscles without adequate stabilization, this can easily cause injuries in the future when you go to do something that requires the strength you have but the coordination you don’t poses.

Does your personal trainer know when to do cardio and when to do resistance based workouts?

It is essential if your work/life schedule permits it to do cardio and weights based workouts on separate days or at least six hours apart. Someone that wanted to develop muscle and burn body fat would use this system. The reason for separating the two is that if you do a hard cardio workout with a hard weights workout you are producing too much cortisol from the cardio which decreases your androgens (repair hormones) which you need to make your weights workout effective.

Does your personal trainer recommend you do interval training for your cardio workouts after six weeks of constant cardio, if your goal is to lose body fat?

This is a key factor that will make a huge difference to how quickly you can achieve your body fat loss goals. Professional athletes cycle their training in six week periods to maximise their potential. After doing constant cardio for six weeks you tend to hit a plateau where you only improve very slowly where previously you were coming on in leaps and bounds. So after doing six weeks of 70% intensity cardio after a warm-up for a total duration of 30 minutes to one hour then it is time to introduce high intensity interval training with the correct amount of rest in between intervals.

Does your personal trainer know the importance of a resistance based circuit/Metabolic Booster Program’ to help you lose weight quickly?

IF your health is good enough, which is a big if for most people a Metabolic Booster program can raise your metabolism for up to 72 hours, it will help you burn loads of calories intra-workout and it will help you gain muscle tone which depending on which research paper you read can help you burn up to an extra 500 Kcal’s per week per kilo of muscle tone.

Now let’s compare that to a one hour run (if you could do that) on the treadmill. With a workout like this you could raise your metabolism for up to 6 hours. That means that if you do a Metabolic Booster program you will be burning calories for 1200% longer, Wow! There will be a negligible amount of muscle tone developed over a six week period with cardio only compared to maybe a 3 or 4 kilo gain with a Metabolic Booster program, that means with the circuit based workout you may be burning approximately 2000 Kcal’s more per week compared to maybe 200 more with the cardio workout, that’s an improvement of 1000%. Then you will be burning approximately the same amount of calories during the workout. When you add up all the benefits of a Metabolic Booster program which one to choose becomes strikingly clear.

I hope this has given you some insight into choosing a great personal trainer.

Good Luck with your health and fitness goals...

Tim Garrett
Healthy 4 U
“Transforming Lives Through Health and Fitness”
Tel: +971 052 699 3955
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paul-testimonialI would like to share with you how Tim has helped me improve my quality of life and to make exercise a consistent norm in my life. I don’t want exercise to be a concern for me that is why I let Tim take care of all the details. I go and see him each session, I aim to have 4-5 sessions per week with him and he ensures I get a great workout each and every time. The advantage of this for me is that I know that I am getting exactly the exercise routines I need so that I can enjoy a healthy life. The other main advantage for me is that the training that Tim guides me through helps me remain sharp, focused and prepared for the hard work I put in to my own businesses.