In an industry that’s gaining more popularity year on year, it’s unsurprising that of the many who choose to become a fitness coach, a female personal trainer or a gym instructor, some are better than others. Unfortunately, despite the associations with health and wellbeing, there are plenty of ways to become a personal trainer without possessing either a good working knowledge of the science behind fitness, or indeed any actual training experience. Basic online courses have led to many people gaining a ‘qualification’ – yet they’re little better qualified to help you than you are yourself.

Of course, other PTs can spot a wannabe at 200 paces; but the average gym goer or fitness enthusiast wouldn’t necessarily spot the signs. To help you avoid a poor PT experience, and make sure the trainer you opt for is really going to do their best for you, take a look at the list below for some tell-tale signals your PT isn’t all they’re cracked up to be.

#1: Your plan isn’t individual

You’re hiring a personal trainer. That means your training should be personalised to you; not some random list of exercises or a diet plan printed from the internet. If a PT doesn’t quiz you on your lifestyle, foods and current exercise activities before drawing up a fitness plan for you, they’re not worth their salt.

#2: They don’t take baseline information

On your very first session your trainer should take you through a range of exercises designed to look at your movement, posture and habits. They’ll also take key measurements like height and weight. Using these as your baseline data, both of you are then able to track your progress by comparing later results. If no baselines are taken, neither of you has any way of knowing quite how much you’ve achieved, and you’ll lose your motivation.

#3: They don’t practise what they preach

If a personal trainer is telling you to eat certain foods or do certain exercises in order to stay fit and healthy, they should be doing the same. If they happen to mention grabbing a Bacon and Egg McMuffin for breakfast that morning, or can reel off three takeaway orders from the last week, you can bet that the advice they give you isn’t the real McCoy.

#4: They keep checking their phone

Yes, you might long to check the football scores or your bid on an Ebay item, but your personal trainer is being paid to train you. If you catch them on their phone while you’re working out, you can bet they’re not paying attention to anything you’re doing – meaning they’re not watching your technique or monitoring the efficacy of the exercise. They’re just wasting your time.

#5: They love jargon

A PT should be able to explain what they’re doing, what they want you to do, and why, in simple layman’s terms. If your trainer is trying to bamboozle you with industry jargon, it’s a sign they don’t quite understand what the jargon means themselves, and are simply avoiding having to explain it.

#6: They don’t set homework

Everyone knows that what you do with your PT isn’t enough on its own; you need to be supplementing and complementing it with additional exercises and healthy eating at home and in between sessions. A good personal trainer will set you homework each week, usually based around certain activities, and will expect you to complete it.

#7: They don’t keep track

Similar to #2, there’s no point hiring a trainer to help you achieve your fitness goals if they don’t keep track of how you’re progressing. Each session should see a clipboard or other means of recording data permanently attached to them, so they can log what you’re doing, for how long, and at what intensity. This means they can spot when you need to up your game, or adjust an exercise to get maximum benefits.

#8: They talk too much

It’s common, if you see your PT regularly, to engage in friendly conversation and banter each session, asking how their week has been and discussing a few general topics. However, the focus should always be on your training, and the activities you’re doing. If your personal trainer spends more of their time gossiping or (worse) moaning than they do explaining your exercises, it’s time to get rid.

#9: They don’t say why

Like with #5, a good trainer will be able to explain to you why they’re giving you a specific exercise to do, or why you need to avoid certain foods. This shows they understand the science behind fitness, and are giving you the best advice. If your PT simply tells you to do something ‘because it’s good for you’, and can’t elaborate on that statement when questioned, then walk away and don’t look back.

#10: It’s boring

It’s safe to say that lots of people find exercise daunting or, at the very least, unenjoyable. It’s one of the reasons they invest in a personal trainer, so there’s someone else pushing them on despite their reservations. However, a good PT will make your workouts as enjoyable and productive as possible. That means giving you variety as well as success. A combination of cardio and strength exercises uses different muscle groups each time to give an overall workout, and will stop you getting bored. If your PT has you doing the same things over and over each week, ditch them and find someone who’ll add some pizazz to your training.

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