By Dave G Ford
After 4 years as a personal trainer all over the world I have been made quickly aware of the fact that to be successful in the business you had to devote more of your time in sales than you did in training. This in a sense is true, you can know every aspect of fitness, know every page of the sports science journals and be in fantastic shape but not sell a single session if you haven’t got the “gift of the gab”. This is the sad, unfortunate truth of the business that is tailor-made to help people but underlying this “help” is a subtext that is ripping off personal training clients not just across the UK but across the world. I am campaigning for the trainers that put in the hours learning new techniques and planning workouts for their clients everyday only to be undercut by a salesman in a pair of shorts.
Which brings me to this article and the purpose of this expose` if you will into the nature of personal training and how you, as a future client can make sure you pick a real personal trainer not a salesman in disguise. When I left the UK for Australia just over a year ago I was one of four personal trainers at the biggest gym in Wales. All of us had worked extremely hard to gain our qualifications and secured a successful business, promoting wellness and getting great results for our client base at our gym. In that same gym today a little over a year on there are 17 personal trainers!! I feel that’s worth repeating, 17!!!!!! All chomping on the bit for your custom. This is the norm all across the board, but how do you tell the difference between one trainer to the next? This is how…
As mentioned before, there is no denying that the fitness boom is truly upon us. Corporations are spending millions of pounds on getting their staff to lose weight to promote a healthy lifestyle and health clubs profit margins couldn’t be higher. But in the space of a year where have all these personal trainers come from? Could it be just a coincidence? These Sports and Exercise graduates have qualified just in time for the boom to hit? The short answer is…No.
The surge of trainers is simply due to the fact that in 2011 in the UK you can become a personal trainer in as little as four weeks. That is 28 days!!! This is the person that you are giving free rein to your wellbeing for 1 hour? I wouldn’t let someone walk my dog after just four weeks of training, but maybe that’s just me. No matter how you look at it, your personal trainer is your fitness oracle for as many sessions a week as you can afford. If he/she tells you to jump on to a 2 foot box with your hands above your head you’ll do it, because that’s what you pay him/her for. Right? If he/she tells you to throw a kettlebell as hard as you can in front of you you’ll do it, because that’s what you pay him/her for. Right? Hmm…
I could go on spewing rhetoric and all the rest for ages but the real reason you should be reading this article is because, you have made steps to getting healthy and are maybe considering a personal trainer. So here is how you find a real personal trainer:
1. Ask to see their Qualifications – Treat personal training as a primary medicine, because in the wrong hands you are vulnerable to a lot of structural and internal harm. Check the certificates before going into any session and restore some peace of mind.
2. Ask for a Guarantee – A Trainers job is to get you in shape, end of. You, as their employer are well within your rights (if they aren’t doing their job) to not pay them. ALL GOOD TRAINERS WILL OFFER A 100% GUARANTEE! It is as simple as that.
3. Observe before you buy – Watch a trainer over two sessions, if they seem to be doing the same set of exercises all the time, it is because they are. These are factory-line MensHealth subscribing “personal trainers” who are reeling off the same routine with varying rep amounts to everyone. Nothing “Personal” here, save yourself thirty bucks and go buy the magazine.
4. Don’t be a Gimmick! Be a Result!
- It is your second session, you have just mastered the front raise and now to show your fantastic progress, your trainer hands you a kettlebell because you are clearly ready for kettlebell throws (does this sound familiar?). This is the biggest alarm bell for you to get the hell out of there. Imagine its your second driving lesson and now that you’ve mastered putting the car in gear, you are now going to perform a hand brake turn at 60mph whilst tuning in the radio. Ok that might be a slight exaggeration but you see where I’m going with this.
-Kettlebell throws and cleans, although a great exercise, are designed as a ballistic exercise aimed at a mere 5 maybe 10 percentile of the fitness population with a solid structure to support them, and yet you see trainers giving these exercises to clients who can barely hold a plank. I have been fortunate enough to work with private Orthopedic doctors and Chiropractors who make a business off poor informed trainers inflicting these workouts on people. They simply replace their pupils with � signs and lick their lips when I tell them of the horrors I witness in the gym everyday with regards to gimmicks like this,
-Same goes for TRX straps, fantastic bit of equipment for a lot of things but if you aren’t able to do a push up on your knees yet, you should not be suspended above the ground by your feet in vinyl strapping in the push-up position just because (to the naked eye) it makes your trainer look good.
5. Don’t be afraid to ask! -
You are The Boss, The Grand Poobah, The Big Cheese! In any personal trainer-client relationship, the client is paying the wages, the client is in charge.
If you are unsure of why you are doing something then ask for a reason as to why you’re doing it:
-Why am I doing bent over rows with a kettlebell when there’s a dumbbell right there?
-Why am I paying you to watch me on the treadmill for ten minutes?
Why haven’t I lost a pound this month?
Why are you on your phone?
Why am I throwing this weight in the air?
Why does my back hurt?
Should my head be bleeding?
Ok ignore those last two, but again, you get my drift! You are paying for knowledge, you are paying for results, you are paying for someone to help you make a positive change in your health and wellbeing. If at the end of every week you are not feeling this then you need to start asking some questions.
I support personal training as an industry and a profession with all of my being, which in effect is why im writing this article. The results that can be achieved and the changes that can be made in peoples lives are truly breathtaking when done properly. The trick is to look at having a personal trainer as an investment in YOU! What do you value YOU at? I wouldn’t take my Aston Martin DB9 to Jim’s Auto Repair for a service I’d take it to Aston Martin for a service and I’d want a massage while I wait!
Expect nothing but the best and get the best bang for your buck you can find, and reap the rewards that are coming to you because you will earn them with the help of your top of the range personal trainer!
XtraMile Fitness UK http://www.xtramilefitness.co.uk
* It is worth noting I don’t own an Aston Martin DB9, but if for that split second you believed I did….God Bless You.