Choosing the right personal trainer for you out of the many working in your area is critical as you’ll be spending a lot of one-on-one time with them, sharing personal details (that even your nearest and dearest might not know) and investing both financially and physically over a number of months or years. This is as true for online personal trainers as much as for face-to-face trainers.
To help you, here are Thrive’s top tips for getting the right person for you. They apply to online personal trainers such as Thrive, as well as traditional gym-based trainers.
What can they do for you? For most people, health and fitness isn’t just about eating less or moving more – it’s much more complicated than that. It’s about having an integrative approach to exercise, nutrition, lifestyle and health (see below).
Whether you’re looking for more strength, less fat, bigger muscles, greater endurance or just staying mobile as you age, you need a personal trainer who is able to design programmes for the weights room, advise on cardio exercise and balance your goals against what’s needed each day.
Are they able to design programmes aimed at helping you to generate energy properly? How do they help you manage your stress? Have they got a long term view on how your training programme will evolve over the months to come? How does the training programme link with your nutrition plan?
It’s not rocket science, but neither is it appropriate to make it up as you go along.
Time for a quiz: take a look at these two pictures and decide which meal you would likely choose if given a free choice. Now, which meal do you feel will move you closer to your health and fitness goals? If you switched answers, then paying a personal trainer who only tells you what you should eat is not likely to work in the long term.
Find one who will coach you into better eating habits. If this is linked to feeling better, more energy, fewer slumps, no calorie counting and eating more food than you thought you ever should, then win-win! It’s about eating a nutrition-dense, not calorie-dense, diet. Get it right and you’ll barely have to think about food choices in the future.
A lot of personal trainers will stop at exercise; some will also include nutrition; few will look at your wider circumstances and actively coach you to success. That might be helping you find a better mindset to achieve your goals. It might be giving you practical steps to reduce (not just manage) stress. Perhaps you need help sleeping, or just the motivation to stick to the plan.
Ask how your trainer will help. If they’re not planning to help, then they’re not planning to monitor your progress and recovery either.
Exercise and nutrition are key aspects of general health. But done correctly, personal trainers can devise programmes which help your brain, thyroid, blood sugar, digestion and heart work better for you. On the flip side, it’s very easy to get it wrong and mess you up. Be weary of personal trainers who behave like doctors.
If you want super-fast results without consideration for your underlying health, then find a personal trainer who promises this – and there are plenty out there. Similarly, if you want to be a body builder or enter physique competitions with old-school bulking and cutting, then find someone who’s been there, done and got the (very tight) t-shirt.
There is, however, another way.
Thrive’s philosophy is based on people taking personal responsibility for their actions. If you’ve decided you’re ready to put the effort into getting fit, healthy, slimmer, bigger, faster, stronger, or whatever it may be, then Thrive will give you the best programme it can. Success requires your commitment and Thrive will be with you (online at least) each step of the way.
If you’re going to be training in the same place two or three times a week, you’ll benefit from variety in your exercises. There are plenty of bodyweight exercises that can deliver results, but generally the more equipment in a gym, the more varied your training programmes will be.
A good online personal trainer will take time to understand the facilities you have available to you and design programmes which capitalise on them. When choosing a gym to workout in, ask to have a look around – a few things to look out for are:
- Range of equipment to target each part of the body
- Sufficient weights to challenge you (10kg dumbbells won’t do much for most people’s squat)
- Clean and tidy – you don’t want to worry whether it’s safe to touch things
- Quality, functioning equipment – watch out for loose fixings and frayed cables
You’ll also get to check out the temperature, music selection and gym etiquette of other users, all things that put gym users off going.
Sometimes your best gym option is not on your doorstep. It might be on your route to work, or even at your work gym; it might require you to detour or make a special effort. But you know what? It’ll be worth it if you get the results you want in the time frame your personal trainer says is realistic.
Other than location, you should check opening hours (one of the great things about online personal training is that you can train whenever you want, not just when you can get an appointment), cancellation policy, changing & showering facilities and parking. Basically you need a facility which ticks as many of your boxes as possible to make it near impossible that you’ll not go!
Most of us operate within a budget and personal training is really a case of you get what you pay for. You’ve already made the decision to work on your health and fitness – now it’s time to follow through and pay for the expertise you’re looking for. If you choose well and your personal trainer delivers, it’ll be worth the money. If you put the effort in and don’t get the results you’re expecting, then take your money elsewhere.
Online personal training is typically a lot cheaper than paying for face-to-face sessions, so long as it comes with all the tools necessary (good programme design, demo videos, exercise descriptions, additional help when you need it) to make it work for you.
Most of Thrive’s clients are from personal recommendations. That’s great as it means people are pleased with the way we do things. We’d love you to talk to us, but you should also ask your friends who they use (if their goals are similar to yours). If you’re looking for something different, personal recommendations become less important.
The best way to find out if a personal trainer is for you is to book a free consultation and meet the person online or face-to-face. Whilst you’re not looking for a new friend, personalities matter and you both have to want to work together.
Are you ready to thrive?