By PPT Level 1 Trainer, Mary Elasi


Every year it’s the same story. January hits and all of a sudden this realisation that perhaps you’re not in the best shape. Next you search high and low for the “right” gym or the “best” trainer.

But HOW do you choose?

I’ve been thinking about this a lot lately. Spurred on by some observations made while on holidays, this question has consumed my thoughts a little. I shouldn’t care, but I get really upset when I see people working with a trainer, who are not getting the type of service, advice or care that they deserve.

I know here at PPT we strive to offer all clients a high quality, professional service. Given the effort we make at PPT, I really hate seeing these cowboys bring the fitness industry down at the expense of a clients hip pocket, health and fitness.

So what could these clients have done differently from the outset? When on the hunt for a new trainer or gym, hopefully you get the opportunity to ask lots of questions and check out the facility first. This is your chance to get a good feel for the trainer or the gym, so here are my tips on how you can get the best out of this half hour consult, so you make an informed decision:

  1. Ask them, how do you put the “PERSONAL” into “Personal Training”?

Sounds obvious, but this is why it is important. Too often PTs dish out hard, grueling programs that aren’t personalized for the individual they are training. Exercises are too advanced, but they know its tough and the client will walk away feeling “worked”. They think “my job as a PT is done” and they tick that box. WRONG!!

A good PT will challenge a client, YES. But it must be done through exercise selection that is appropriate to them, their abilities and most importantly based on a thorough assessment of the clients movement and strength. So simply, in response to the original question, prospective PTs should tell you that they will:

  • program you according to your ability
  • progress you over time
  • BUILD AN INDIVIDUALISED program for you

  1. Ask about their approach and thoughts on nutrition for your goals. 

Best results are achieved through training and sensible nutrition. You’re seeking the services of a professional, so you should be getting both. Discussion should be centered around the lifestyle habits that need addressing.

  • Keep an ear out for buzz phrases “low carb”, “gluten free”, “paleo” and any other food restriction recommendations. Maintaining restrictive eating habits is hard and can set you up for failure, not success. It can also mean the PT is a little inflexible or someone who scans facebook and instagram for education rather than investing in quality education.
  • If you’re handed a standard plan, calorie recommendation or meal plan, challenge it (well I really want to tell you RUN!!). No two people are the same and ‘cookie cutter’ approaches are NOT in your best interests.
  1. Make sure you get your program

Sounds so obvious you wonder why bother mentioning it. Sadly we know there are trainers out there that give their clients 1 hour of their time and then that’s it. No direction, guidance or support for the numerous sessions done outside of their PT time. This is not good.

You are paying for PERSONAL TRAINING, having your program to do on your own time is a given so that every session you take part in from that time forward should be under the advisement and direction of your trainer in a program format designed for you.

  1. Feel comfortable, make sure you can trust your PT and feel confident they will listen.

Know what they stand for, why they care to help you get what you want, and that they’ll make outcome based changes and decisions based on your feedback. A good PT needs to take in info like this and work with you to find solutions that work.

I could go on, BUT these should 4 tips alone should help you build a framework to choose a PT. At PPT we are far from perfect (click here to read a previous blog Confessions of a Personal trainer), but through constant reflection we are continually improving on what we do and offer clients. What lies at the heart of all the points above are YOU, the individual. To simplify them right down, will you:

  1. Give ME the right exercises according to my ability
  2. Provide ME with an individualized nutritional approach
  3. Supply ME with my program written with specificity to my goals & ability
  4. Listen to ME so we can work together.

If you are talking to a trainer who gives you confidence across all 4 of these as a minimum, then what are you waiting for? I think you have found your trainer and you can get training!!