No matter where you are on your fitness journey, personal trainers are an essential part of the gym life. Whether you’ve just signed up for your first gym, or you’re a certified veteran of your local fitness scene, it’s always a good idea to include a professional into your routine not only to spot your weightlifting form or to egg you faster on the treadmill, but also to guide you every step of the way for a fruitful and fulfilling fitness journey.
Of course, not all trainers are made the same, and just because Sarah from the third floor found a coach that made her lose her dreaded 10 kg and actually has her looking forward to the mornings now, doesn’t mean this coach can work the same miracles on you. Everyone’s fitness journey is unique, hence the “personal” in personal trainer. Luckily, you don’t have to comb every gym and fitness studio from Queensland to Perth in search of the elusive personal trainer. With just these four criteria to consider, you can score yourself the best fitness coach who will guide and help you through your goals.
Credentials and experience might be invaluable factors to look for in a personal trainer, but pretty much nothing makes up for the wrong personality. Your trainer could have coached Olympic athletes into multiple golds but if you two don’t rub along well, all the medals in the world wouldn’t make a difference to you.
The tricky part about this is that you have to know your own personality first for this to work. Do you learn better with a patient instructor who teaches you every single step of the process, or do you find this method boring, even constricting? Do you prefer a harsh taskmaster who would constantly point out your mistakes so you know (and hear) exactly what you did wrong, or would this make you feel edgy or discouraged? For reference, think back to your old tutors and professors—chances are, someone will jump out and remind you of the things that worked—and did not work—for you. Talk to the coaches at the gym or chat up with trainers online to get a feel of their personality. It might take some trial and error, but the end goal here is to find someone who you can actually work with—and work with, closely.
Now that you know what kind of person you can get along well with, it’s time to consider what they can actually bring to the table. First of all—certification is paramount. Sure, you can get your fitness junkie friend to spot for you while you lift weights, but it might not be prudent to have them teach you the finer points of long-distance running if they’ve never done something like that before. So when you get a personal trainer, make sure they are officially qualified to do so—certificates and all. Gym trainers are guaranteed to be certified so you can ask them or the staff for more details about their background and experiences if you must. For other fitness instructors, especially private ones, they are usually available online for consultations, and their credentials will likely be posted already on their pages.
The key is to look for one that specializes in what you need. Naturally, you’ll find coaches for different fields and concentrations, like weightlifting, running, weight-loss, etc., so you have to be specific in your goal. If, for example, you are training for a marathon, get a personal coach who specializes in long-distance running. If you are looking to lose weight, ask your gym about in-house instructors with experience in that regard. Don’t worry about getting stuck with just one coach: you can work out a timeline with them and hammer out a contract that actually benefits you instead of trapping you in. Look for in-house instructors at gyms like Rec Xpress where there are no lock-in contracts so you only pay and work for what you need.
We’ll be honest: personal trainers do not exactly come cheap. You’re paying for their time and expertise, and the more you require of these, the higher, likely, you’ll have to pay for them. Even so, consider this an investment well worth it. Personal trainers are valuable for a whole host of reasons. They can teach you the right exercises at the right pacing so you’re not simply tiring yourself out for nothing, and you can actually reach your goals. They can set up your routine so you work on what you need to, and you can see and feel the results of these for yourself. They can help prevent costly mistakes and serious injuries that can come from not knowing a machine or exercise well enough. Above all, they’ll be with you throughout your particular fitness goal, so you actually stay on track.
But like with anything that costs money, more expense doesn’t necessarily mean more quality, and not shelling out enough may get you exactly what you pay for. Most trainers charge by the hour, which is perfect for those on a tighter schedule (and budget). Others also charge by location, their specialty, or their credentials. If credentials aren’t a deal-breaker for you, you can go for someone with a newer certification who’ll likely be charging cheaper. If you’re looking for a specific skillset, it’s wiser to invest on a coach who is well-versed in that field, rather than waste your time on someone with a smaller pay-rate to match their lesser knowledge and experience. Think about what you specifically need out of your coach then go scout online to get an idea of how much instructors are charging. Rates could be listed on their site, or you can shoot them an email to get a quote. Compare the rates between coaches, and don’t be afraid to talk more to them to get a better feel of their services. After all, if you’ll be investing in something, you definitely want it to pay off.
Lastly, see if you can actually make time for a personal coach. Sure, the old motto may go, “if there’s a will, there’s a way”, but real life doesn’t always follow what’s written on your planner. If you’re a strictly 9-to-5 worker, you can check out trainers who have fixed hours. This can sometimes be cheaper, as this does not require any adjustment on the trainer’s part. But if your schedule is a little more erratic, talk to someone who is flexible in their hours, and could do an on-call basis if necessary. Bear in mind that this kind of set-up may likely ring higher because the arrangement is more personalized.
What’s important at the end of the day, however, is getting your workout done and getting it right under the watchful, professional eye of your trainer. Check your previous month’s calendar to get a lay of your actual schedule, and be sure to mention any possible issues or concerns with your trainer before contracting them. Remember, you’re paying for any missed or readjust schedule, so you always want to get your money’s—and time’s—worth.
The most important insight here is that personal trainers are exactly that—personal. They are supposed to work around what suits you, and not a cookie-cutter template they use with everyone else. Personal trainers are your one-on-one guide to your own individual journey, so always ask yourself what you need and what you want throughout the process. When looking for a personal trainer, consider if their personality matches yours, their experiences and credentials in their field, the cost of their time and expertise, and the schedule you’ll be working with them.
Don’t think you’ll be stuck with the same trainer for the rest of your gym days, either. When you sign up for Rec Xpress, our no lock-in contract policy guarantees you can switch up your routines and trainers as you need them. Our roster of qualified and experienced trainers can help you with all your fitness needs, be it a general goal to lose weight, or a specific intention to train for a particular activity. Once you’ve accomplished your goals with your current trainer, you can set new targets with another trainer for the next chapter in your fitness journey.