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    How to Find the Right Personal Trainer

    By Nick Hall

    Right now, the fitness industry in Australia has exploded. Recent government grants mean it is now easier for more and more personal trainers to become qualified and enter the market.

    I run my personal training business from a private Personal Training studio in Port Melbourne. Off the top of my head I could name dozens of PT’s in the Port Melbourne area such is the influx of personal trainers in Port Melbourne.

    Walk into any commercial gym and you’ll no doubt see a wall full of personal trainer profiles. There is also a myriad of personal training studios popping up in each suburb.

    Hiring a personal trainer is an investment in your time, money and health. And like all investments you should do your homework before making a decision.

    In this article I’ll discuss a what to look for in a personal trainer and how to find the right PT for you based on my own experience with clients and observing other personal trainers in action.

    The following should go without saying. A personal trainer you are considering hiring or have hired should be able to do the following:

    – Turn up on time for the start of a session.
    – Finish a session on time.
    – Book your next session in at completion of your current session not “I’ll get back to you later and let you know what my availability I have”.
    – Reply to your phone calls, text messages or emails in a timely manner (same day response)
    – Look presentable.

    The above should be no brainers. If a trainer you are considering hiring can’t get these basic elements right you have to question all other elements of their business.

    Your new trainer shouldn’t just start blindly training you. Before your first session, your trainer should have some sort of questionnaire or consultation process to identify the following:

    – Weight loss or fitness goals
    – Any prior injuries or medical conditions that may affect training
    – Current training or exercise history
    – Current nutrition habits and knowledge

    To give you an example, I’ve put together a consultation questionnaire that I give to clients prior to their first session.

    Based on the information submitted by the client, I’ll put together a consultation which outlines what adjustments they could make to their food intake, review their current exercise program and recommend the right type and amount of exercise.

    As part of my service, I offer the first two sessions as complementary. I do this for a number of reasons:

    I can identify what the client is capable of, what exercises or movements they can and can’t do or any movement restrictions or strength imbalances they may have.

    A lot of new clients I train are coming off an extended period without exercise and have very little muscle memory, balance or are unable to activate certain muscles in order to perform an exercise. This is the perfect time to identify the client’s capabilities and set foundation exercises for the client to progress from over time.

    For example when I’m screening a new client ill check if they can execute basic exercises such as a bodyweight squat. If the client is unable to activate the right muscles to execute a squat properly I’ll utilise a box squat or assisted squat using the TRX bands until I’ve taught the client how to activate the right muscles to squat unassisted. Then we can look to add weight.

    Countless times I’ve seen trainers persisting with difficult exercises and putting clients in dangerous positions either squatting with a bar on their shoulders or trying to deadlift when the client is clearly not ready for it.


    Based on what your training or fitness goal is, your trainer should be able to put together a weight loss or fitness plan for you that will help you achieve your end result. The plan should have a start date and an end date with recordable results that indicate how you are progressing.

    For example for weight loss clients I’ll take measurements at week 1, 6 and 12. I’ll also record their performance during each training session so the client can see how they are improving and also if any adjustments need to be made to the training or nutrition plan. I’ll also get feedback from the client on what may or may not be working and make the appropriate adjustments.

    The measuring of results and constant feedback to and from clients prevents getting to the end of a 12 week program and not achieving the desired outcome.

    Unfortunately, many trainers have one goal or one focus when training a client and that is to smash them with no objective at all. Don’t get me wrong, I train a number of clients who specifically want to be worked very hard during a session. I still structure each workout so the client can be measured and then repeat each workout at a later date so the client can see how their fitness has improved over a period of time. I structure the training programs for these clients specifically so that as their fitness improves they are constantly challenged. A trainer who makes up your PT session on the spot shows no consideration for what you’re actually there for.

    Regardless of whether your goal is weight loss or increasing fitness, your trainer should have the appropriate qualification to be able to advise you of the types of nutrients you need to consume both before and after training to help increase performance and assist recovery. Your trainer should also be able to advise you on the types of foods you should be including more of and the types of foods you should be eliminating if your aim is weight loss or improving your body shape. The majority of your results will come from your ability to adopt the right nutritional habits.

    I provide my clients with e-books outlining how the body gains and loses body fat, the right types of food to include and exclude along with recipe books to help save the client time and money on preparing meals.

    Each trainer will have their own unique method of training clients. Having said this your trainer shouldn’t force you into a particular method of training if it’s clearly not working or not achieving the desired outcome. Your trainer should be able to adapt a method that will achieve a win/win solution ie the trainer applies their training principles to the client who achieves the desired outcome.

    I recently had a new client start training with me who had previously been working with another personal trainer. This clients’ previous trainer had recently become qualified in Olympic lifting and wanted to train the client in the same manner. Olympic lifting however is both difficult to learn, teach and execute. It also comes with a high degree of risk if not taught properly. On this occasion the client had no desire with her old trainer to want to learn complicated lifts such as power cleans, jerks or snatches. The client simply just wanted to be trained and to achieve a higher level of fitness. Once the client approached myself, it was straight forward to identify the goal of the client and train her accordingly.

    A good trainer should surround themselves and refer to other experts in other fields. For example if a client is complaining muscle soreness, the trainer should be able to refer the client to a trusted massage or physio therapist who can rectify the problem. I recently had a client who was struggling to lose weight despite very good eating habits. After asking the right questions I was able to ascertain that the client had possible digestive issues which would have impaired their ability to lose weight. I then referred the client to a digestive specialist for further investigation.

    When looking for a personal trainer do your due dilligence. Make it clear what you expect from them. The trainer should also make it clear to you what is expected both during a training session and outside of training. We all have budgets but don’t necessarily choose a trainer based on cost alone.

    If the trainer you find can’t provide exactly what it is you want then try someone else. Don’t get stuck into a 12 week contract with a trainer either. I’ve had clients come to me from other trainers who have been locked into a 12 week contract and realised after 6 weeks it just wasn’t a good fit.

    About Nick Hall.

    Nick Hall is a Personal Trainer located in Port Melbourne. Nick Hall runs his Personal Training business from a private PT studio located at 263A Bay St, Port Melbourne.

    Specifically, Nick focuses on weight loss and body transformation for those who are time poor, have little time to exercise and want a structured and effective way to lose weight without the need for a gym membership.

    Nick also provides a specific service for those who are wanting to increase their fitness and strength while also utilising specific workouts that can be completed at home or outdoors, with or without equipment.

    To book two complementary PT sessions and a consultation, complete the below form and Nick will be in contact with you within 24 hours. Alternatively you can call Nick direct on 0409650009.

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