Through our blogs, we try to answer some of the critical questions you may have. However, we haven’t covered the big one: why use personal training? You might be asking yourself ‘do I need a personal trainer?’. Or ‘how do I decide who is the right trainer for me?’. In this week’s blog, we will help answer those questions for you.
Have you ever considered personal training? If not, ask yourself the question ‘Why not?’. Often, the answer comes down to one of three reasons:
- A Personal Trainer (PT) is unnecessary because I know what I’m doing.
- I can’t afford a PT programme.
- My diary is busy, I can’t commit to another appointment in my schedule.
These can be valid points, but before you close your mind to the idea of personal training, ask yourself the following questions:
- Have you achieved your health and fitness goals successfully and maintained them?
- Can you, hand on heart, say you know all you need to know about nutrition, exercise and health?
- Where do you prioritise your health and longevity in the grand scheme of things?
- What monetary value do you place on your own health and wellbeing? What are you worth?
You may think those are pretty big questions. But, when you answer them, it may make you reconsider the ‘why not’ reasons.
Misconceptions of personal training
Like most, you may have the view of personal training as a luxury item that is nice for some, if they can afford it. When it comes to finances, people struggle to justify spending money on personal training and see it as a bonus investment rather than a commodity. It is understandable why you may see it in this way. If you tend to see it this way, just reflect on the following typical example of where the logic goes wrong. I’ll then present you with a different view of the service.
Having been a coach for over a decade, I have always found it ‘interesting’ when a prospect contradicts themselves. Many times, I have held consultations where the prospects state they are desperate to make a change to their health and physical appearance. When we get to the cost of service, they then decide not to move forward as they cannot justify the fee. They then justify spending more money on takeaways, alcohol and cigarettes than the cost of my services over a week. In fact, by purchasing my services, they will save money whilst improving their health. By continuing their current habits, not only are they spending more money, but also doing more damage to their health.
To put that into perspective, one client was smoking 20 cigarettes a day. the average cost for a pack of 20 is around £12. Over the course of a week, this individual was spending approx £85, which translates to £4,370 per year. At that cost, you could receive 2 sessions per week of 1-1 training as well as nutritional advice, lifestyle support, weekly monitoring and monthly evaluations, which ultimately leads to guaranteed results.
The service of personal training
Let’s try and change that view personal training, just for a second. Let me present you with some scenarios.
If your roof sprung a leak, or you noticed some big cracks appearing in your outer walls at home, would you google how to fix it, then attempt it yourself and be confident you would get it right? Or are you more likely to hire a builder to come and look at the problem and use their knowledge and expertise to fix it correctly?
What if your car developed a weird rattling sound and you noticed a knocking coming from the engine? Would you YouTube the answer and, first, hope you figure out what the issue is then, second, attempt to fix it yourself? Or would you take your car to a mechanic to give it a proper once over and resolve any problems they identify?
I could go on with lots of different examples, but I think you get where I’m going with this. If you develop an issue that could get worse over time and create a real problem, you will seek the services of a knowledgeable, experienced professional to help you fix them.
Your health can create the same problems. If you gain weight at a slow and consistent pace, over time, this weight will add complications to your health and reduce your longevity. It can take a while before you reach the point of no return; however, if you don’t act, you will reach it.
You can try and google the answers and go it alone but, more often than not, this leads to a lack of results, yo-yo diets and an approach to exercise which, in a lot of cases, leaves you in a worse state than when you started.
This is where personal training comes in
Think of a personal trainer in the same way as a plumber, builder or a mechanic. A good personal trainer will have the education and experience to help fix any health, fitness and lifestyle issues that you may have. You don’t just use a PT to get in you shape for your next holiday. Sure, a PT can help you do that but think more long term. Your PT will be able to re-educate you on exercise and nutrition, but also help you make continuous improvements to your health, wellbeing and longevity.
Every good PT will teach you all the skills you need for the rest of your life. Your health and wellbeing should not start to decline after you complete your time with your coach. That will only happen if you chose to revert to the old habits that put you in bad health in the first place. I always make a habit of telling my clients “my goal is to get you to a point where you don’t need me (but choose to stay with me)”, which I believe should be the goal of every good PT.
Typical PT service users
You might have a predetermined notion of who uses a PT. There are some stereotypical images which, for the most part, are only a small section of PT service users.
The status quo
Some individuals hire a PT only for the sake of saying they have a PT. Although they start for the wrong reason, most will take on board what they are taught and end up getting good results. Some, however, don’t last and drop out quite soon.
The quick fix
We alluded to this earlier. You may have a holiday or an event coming up in a few weeks for which you want to get in shape. These clients tend to be willing to go to extremes as they know it is short-lived. Once they have finished the event or holiday, they revert to their old ways and with it, their old body.
Rehab & physio
We have several clients who use our services off the back of a recommendation from a physio or chiropractor. They may be in recovery from an injury or surgery and require guidance and support in the gym to keep them safe.
Money to burn
There is a small section of the client base that simply have the money and find it easier to have a PT train them. Sometimes, these individuals may not to see the results they seek because their lifestyle and other interests conflict with the changes needed. However, they continue with the service because they know without a PT, they probably wouldn’t step foot in the gym at all.
Main users of personal training
As stated, those are some of the stereotypical clients people think of, but they are only a small sector of the service users. So, who generally makes up a PT’s client base?
New to the lifestyle
Most clients we get are people who have never made a conscious attempt to improve their health, wellbeing and fitness. They have decided enough is enough and want to take control of their own life and change it for the better. However, after trying to figure out a start point, they have seen the abyss of conflicting and confusing information that the internet holds and decided its too complicated. By using the services of a PT, you receive access to their knowledge and experience to make the right decisions for you. Your PT will also educate you throughout the programme so that you can continue to make the right choices.
Those fed up with a lack of results
One of the first questions in a consultation with a potential client is “what has led you to see a PT today?”. A typical response is “I’ve tried X, Y, Z and not seen the results I want. I’m frustrated about trying different methods and getting nowhere”. Programme hopping or ‘yo-yoing’ is very common. You start a diet or programme and see some initial results. After some time, old habits slip back in, and your health begins to decline. You notice this and try the latest trend you read about, and the cycle repeats itself. PT gives you a level of accountability and guidance that you are missing from going it alone.
Those who are serious about results / the ‘last resort’
You may have a more serious reason for PT than just wanting to look better naked. Some clients come to us with serious health complications that require them to improve their wellbeing. You may be suffering from a severe physical condition or even a mental health issue for which exercise is the ‘last resort’ before more extreme measures are needed. Over the years, I have worked with several clients who have been struggling to conceive a baby. They are told they need to lose weight before any medical intervention would be considered. I have also worked with clients suffering from anorexia who have required some structured exercise and nutrition to help get them up to a healthy weight and get control over their condition.
Some of our clients play sports on different levels. I have worked with amateur athletes who compete in weekend tournaments for fun, to professional athletes who make a living in their chosen sport. All athletes will have individual needs that they need to achieve to keep them at the top of their game. For these individuals, they will need a careful, thought out plan that has them not only progress but peak in time for when they need to perform. Using a PT with the right qualifications can make the difference to their performance and their career.
Yep, you read that correctly. It is not uncommon to find that some PTs hire coaches for themselves. For example, I have worked with several coaches in my chosen sports of bodybuilding, powerlifting and strongman. Although I am a coach myself, that does not mean I know everything. Also, with the workload we have as coaches, it can be useful to ‘pass the reins’ over to someone else to tell you what to do. When you are a PT, your work is not just the time you spend with the client. We have a lot of admin and behind the scenes work outside of the actual 1-1 time, which makes our days long. There is also the fact that other coaches have different experiences to you, and you can learn from them to help you grow your own knowledge.
Why should you use personal training?
Although it may be a biased opinion, I do believe that everybody who starts their journey towards a fitness goal should hire a PT. I believe that when someone signs up to a gym, they should have a requirement of say two months of personal training, even if it is only one session per week. In doing this, you would be better educated and be able to make significant improvements to your health and wellbeing. There are plenty of studies that show the benefits of using the services of a personal trainer.
As I am a coach and don’t want you just to follow my opinion, let me give you my reasons why you should consider hiring a PT, even if it is only for a short period.
Guidance & knowledge
You may think of PT as just providing a hard training session which leaves you in a hot, sweaty mess on the gym floor. In some cases, this is correct; however, when you pay for a PT, you get much more than that. What you are paying for is their education, knowledge and experience. Usually, the more educated and experienced the PT, the higher the cost of the service, which is to be expected. When you invest in a PT programme, you should have access to your PT outside of your 1-1 sessions. You should be able to ask your coach any questions that relate to your programme and health.
You might purchase a training only programme, in which case the sessions will be all you receive. However, if it is a full PT programme, you should receive education and information on nutrition, sleep, supplementation, lifestyle planning as well as exercise. For those of you old enough, think of you PT as your personal ‘Ask Jeeves’.
Adherence & accountability
Achieving any health and wellbeing goal is going to require a few elements to get you to that finish line. Two of the important ones are adherence and accountability. If you have a goal to lose, say four stones, that is not going to happen overnight. You are also not going to achieve that goal in a month. For reference, one pound per week is a healthy rate of weight loss. Four stones should take roughly 56 weeks to accomplish. You may achieve it quicker than that if you are able to maintain a faster pace. However, left unsupervised, you are more likely to wander off the path to your goal, which will slow or halt your progress.
When it comes to achieving your goals, it is never a great idea to take two steps forward, one step back. By hiring the services of a PT, you not only have the resources to help you get there quicker but the accountability of knowing you have a plan to stick to, for which someone (the PT) will make you accountable. In one study, they found that you had a 65% greater chance of achieving your goal when you were committed to another individual such as a training partner: however if you had specific appointments based around that commitment (such as PT), that success rate rose to 95%.
It may sound like an obvious one, but one thing you are paying for with a PT is the results. Studies show that by hiring the services of a PT, clients achieved more significant results than those who trained alone. Those results should not come as a surprise. However, it is essential to point out that the PT can only tell you what to do; it is up to you to act upon their guidance.
Get results, quicker!
When you use a PT, they will not only educate you but also motivate you and support you towards your goal. Having that someone to push you and guide you means you are more likely to get to your goal quicker than going alone.
An experienced PT will not only know how to plan your journey but also have the experience to deal with any roadblocks along the way. In life, not everything will go to plan, and you have to be ready for when that happens. You may experience a change in work or home life that completely changes your schedule. There might be an unplanned pause you need to take in your programme. You might pick up an injury or issue which hinders your ability to train. The right PT can help you negate these issues and keep you on track.
How to choose a good PT
In one of our previous blogs, we discussed what makes PT, personal. We identified some of the services we provide, as well as the results of our methodology. Not all PTs will offer this same level of service, but this does not mean they are poor PTs. So, what should you look for, and how do you choose a good PT?
Does the PT in question have a good reputation? Usually, a quick google search will provide you with reviews and accounts from either clients or service users. Always see what others have to say about their experiences, do not just listen to what the PT has to say about themselves. When it comes to PT, you can have all the qualifications in the world, but if your communication and rapport building skills are lacking, it can make you very difficult to work with. When you embark on a PT programme, you are going to be sharing some personal experiences with your PT, so make sure they have good feedback.
One of the best methods for choosing a PT is a referral. You are only going to refer someone’s services if you believe they are good, in the same way you would advise someone to avoid something that is terrible. Ask your friends, family and colleagues if they use or have used the services of a PT before. You are more likely to trust the review of someone you know and trust, rather than a random review on the internet. Some of the clients we have today have come from referrals from previous clients.
Not all PTs are the same. Although as PTs we have to pass a basic qualification, there are multiple pathways off the back of that in which you can choose to specialise. For example, I have specialised in body recomposition and sporting performance. Jon, who is one of the other coaches and business director at Life Force Fitness, specialises in posture, movement, nutrition, fat loss and putting on muscle. Now, we both can tick all the boxes due to our experience: however, we make sure the coach fits the clients’ needs. If you have a specific goal, be it fat loss, recovery or maybe a particular sporting goal, make sure you pick a PT who has a background either in the area or is working with clients with similar needs.
As the old saying goes ‘The proof is in the pudding’, and the same is true for PT. Any PT should be able to share their results with potential clients to show them what they are capable of. We have your client testimonials as well as our case studies where we break down our clients’ programmes from start to finish and show not only what they achieved but how. If a PT is either reluctant to show you results or has few to share, they might not be the right option for you.
As touched upon earlier, but not all PTs will offer the same services. Without blowing our own trumpets, the range of services we provide are extensive. It is the level of service that gets the results, as we leave no stone unturned. Not all PTs will be able to offer the services we can. Make sure the PT you chose offers services you need, be it training only or nutrition and lifestyle evaluation. Beware, the level of service provided will always be reflected in the pricing, so a diet plan or training plan only package will be considerably cheaper than an all-inclusive lifestyle and support programme.
Observation (if possible)
If you are a member of a commercial gym, it is likely there will be a team of PTs you can choose from. They should also have a ‘PT board’ area where the different PTs will advertise their services. If a particular PT catches your eye, it can be an excellent exercise to keep an eye out for them on the gym floor training clients. Observe (from afar) how they are with their clients. Do they come across as someone you could build rapport with? Or perhaps you like how they work with their clients? Do they look and act like high-end professionals? If you have the opportunity, this can be beneficial in making the right choice of PT.
What to avoid in a PT
So, we have looked at what you should look for, so let’s identify what to avoid. A few reasons are obvious but below are some important ones.
As with most products and services, you get what you pay for. Let’s say you are considering the services of a PT and you see two advertised; one is £100 per month, and the other is £400 per month. There is probably a good reason why the first one is so cheap. Please do not choose a PT simply because they are more affordable. Remember, you are likely to make some lifestyle changes that may see you save money in other areas. The other question to answer is how much do you value your own health? Are you worth £100 or £400?
Do not merely choose a PT because they are the closest to you. We have had clients travel to us from different towns. At one point, I had one client use my services who lived 62 miles away, meaning they made a 124-mile round trip to be trained by me. I’m not suggesting that you look that far afield. However, don’t just use google maps and choose the nearest red arrow.
I know this is an obvious one, but do check for reviews on your potential PT. You may read several reviews that point to behaviours or actions you don’t find agreeable. If, however, they have ten positive reviews and one bad one, it’s likely that the review in question is from a disgruntled client who maybe did not receive the results they wanted. When looking at reviews, always look for patterns. One is an anomaly; two is a coincidence, three or more is a pattern.
Lack of experience
I want to start by saying this is not a knock on newly qualified personal trainers. We all have to start somewhere. However, over the last few years, there has been a rise in fast track qualifications online where you can go from no knowledge to qualified personal trainer in under ten weeks. If you want the best results possible for your money, you are better off employing the services of an experienced trainer with multiple qualifications under their belt.
Always look for a level of knowledge and experience as well as qualification. Although someone may be newly qualified officially, they may have lots of success stories with online clients as well as their own success in their personal health and fitness journey. As well as checking google, make sure to check if the PT has a website and social media pages to help you get a better understanding of who they are and what they offer.
Personal training for the majority is often looked at in the wrong light. It is seen as a luxury item and not needed for the average gym-goer. In reality, personal training is something that everybody could benefit from in some shape or form. The right PT can not only educate you but also guide, support and motivate you to your goals quicker.
A great PT, during your time with them, will help you create the right habits for prolonged health and longevity. If you have a serious goal you are trying to achieve; you might want to consider hiring a PT. The short-term cost of personal training can negate the potential long term cost to your health and wellbeing.