A personal trainer can be defined in many ways. I guess a very broad way to understand what a personal trainer does is, someone that helps you achieve your health and fitness goals. Exactly how a personal trainer achieves your desired goals varies dramatically from one trainer to the next.
The first thing that a personal trainer should do is assess your current situation and your goals. There are many assessments that can be performed, here are the most common ones:
Bio-mechanical Movement Assessments: These assessments are used to check to see exactly how you move and whether you have any movement dysfunctions that need to be addressed. You can expect to be taken through a series of movements that involve squatting, lunging, bending, twisting and reaching. These types of assessments, in my opinion, are crucial because it ensures that you address movements that may cause you problems in the future! However, you will only find more advanced trainers are performing these types of assessments.
Body Fat Composition: Some trainers will test your body fat composition so they can work at reducing your fat to muscle ratios. There are various ways to test your total body fat. Â Skin calipers involve measuring a pinch of skin from various parts of the body and bio-electrical impedance is where a light electrical current is run through the body. Skin calipers can be very accurate but the skill lies in the hands of the trainer and unless they are very well trained this test is often misunderstood.
Contraindications: Testing for movement contraindications may also be performed by a fitness trainer. These tests are very simple and involve moving limbs in certain directions to see if these cause pain or discomfort. Any signs of pain during these movements should be referred out to a specialist.
PARQ: This almost standard assessment stands for Physical Activity Readiness Questionnaire. The form is a simple list of yes or no questions. If you answer Yes, to any of the questions then it is recommended that you visit you local doctor. Having a check up before commencing exercise isn’t a bad idea anyway.
Nutrition and Lifestyle: A good trainer will ask you a series of questions on your nutrition and lifestyle. These questions will vary from one trainer to the next but should include things like your: Activity History, Medical History, Occupation, Interests, Allergies, Current Medication etc. Good trainers will also have you complete a food diary, sleep diary and energy diary for at least 7 days.
One of the principle roles of a personal trainer is to show you exactly how to perform exercises safely and effectively. The trainer should be very attentive to how you move and flexible enough to change exercises should one of them cause you a problem. The trainer should also have knowledge of how to adjust the variables of exercise like: Reps, Sets, Time and Tempo.
Depending on your goals your trainer should produce an action plan that includes: how many times per week you are going to exercise, exactly what types of exercises you will be performing, and how many sessions they expect you to perform before certain goals are reached. Don’t let a trainer ‘fob you off’ if you ask these questions and they can’t produce the goods. All experienced trainers should be able to predict future goals and use a periodised (structured plan) of workouts to get you there.
Personal Trainers are either based in a gym facility or they will travel to you. Travelling trainers will supply you will all the equipment that you require. Good in home trainers can deliver fantastic results without the use of much equipment and can train you in a small space in your own home. If your trainer is based in a gym facility then you will be required to visit them, which can be more time consuming.
I understand that not all personal trainers are qualified in nutrition and/or are able to support you with nutritional advice. In my experience you cannot separate exercise from nutrition. The majority of fat loss results will come from a good, clean, natural diet. You make muscle tissue, ligaments, bones, and tendons, all from the nutrition you eat. So eating poorly will only result in poor results.
A good trainer will monitor your food and drink intake and offer feedback. You should be asked to complete a weekly food and drink diary. Based on the findings of your food diary you may be asked to take a food intolerance test. The results from these tests and then taking action can have a drastic impact on the results you achieve.
Education and Motivation
I think one of the biggest reasons that people hire a personal trainer is for the motivation. A fitness trainer will push you harder that you usually push yourself. However, you should not be pushed too hard, so if you feel like it is too much then you should voice your concerns with your trainer. Many trainers make the mistake of training their clients the way they train themselves. So be aware of this and don’t be afraid to speak out.
Your personal trainer should also offer education during your training process. Listen carefully and remember that you hired a trainer for their expertise so keep your mind open.
Hiring a Personal Trainer
Employing a personal trainer could radically change your life. Most trainers should offer you a free consultation. Don’t be afraid to ask for a trial session. Find out what you will be doing and what assessments they offer. Reading testimonials can be another great way to feel confident with your hiring decision.
Most of all have fun, stay safe and get some great results.
Do you have any questions about personal trainers? If so ask them below…