Working with a Personal Trainer: how to avoid crossed wires

How to Work with a Personal Trainer: In my last blog post I looked at the various deciding factors you need to consider when finding the right PT for you. This week I thought it might be helpful to look at the same question but through the opposite end of the telescope – what makes a great client!

There is no doubt that you get out what you put in when it comes to investing a PT and over the years I’ve identified the following traits common to those clients who achieve their goals and/or exceed their expectations.

1) They’re honest with themselves and me

Be transparent with your PT about what you want to achieve and they in turn will set you realistic, stretch goals. IT is equally important to be honest with them when you have had slip-ups or not kept up with your training ‘homework’. Have you skipped your training sessions this week or had one too many beers? I’d rather know about it than not as I can adapt the session accordingly. Fitness and weight loss comes about by putting in more effort and less calories so it is so important to be honest with yourself and your PT about when you’ve eased up on the healthy eating or fallen off the wagon. We’re not here to tell you off (!) but to help motivate you and get you back on the right track. It’s also important to be honest with your PT about your likes and dislikes and areas of weakness. While we’re not here to give you an easy ride (!) it is important that PTs develop their approach bespoke to each individual. For example, while I’m a big fan of running, for many people this is not the best way of building fitness – it is high impact and there is a higher risk of injury than other forms of training. For others, it may simply not be the exercise for them. Be honest with your trainer about your limits and what is off-limits for you.

2) They ask questions

Whether it’s about the way I structure sessions or the movements I introduce, through to why I focus on certain pieces of equipment while others may be off-bounds. Clients who engage will end up with a far better understanding of what they are doing (and probably do it better). Equally, you shouldn’t feel like you can’t have any input into your sessions – while your PT will have a clear strategy in mind for you, you also know your goals and should feel like you can have your say. Similarly, if a client is every confused as to why they are doing a particular movement or the order of a session, I want them to ask to ensure that they have the full knowledge as to the approach which will help enhance their performance. Quick tip – try and keep the questions to the end of the session to ensure you get through the planned reps, sets and rest period!

3) They are realistic

It has taken however many years to build the body you have when you first begin your PT sessions so be realistic about how long it will take to change it! Clients who are pragmatic about what changes to expect and understand that there isn’t a short-term fix, are far more satisfying to train. Clients must be committed to change and in it for the long run and not expect a PT to perform miracles. This doesn’t mean that we can’t achieve results quickly, but a few sessions under belt won’t result in a new body.

4) They know their limits

By this I don’t mean physical – they will usually be all too clear on these! Instead I refer to fitness and training knowledge. Clients will (naturally) often come with preconceived ideas about the latest fitness trends or must-haves that will have come from the media, well-meaning friends or a host of potential sources. Some of these will be good, some bad and some nonsensical! I am not professing to have all the answers (and no PT should) but clients that hire PTs and then insist that they know best really won’t get the best value out of the relationship. A good trainer will of course listen to ideas that their clients have. A good client will listen even harder to what their professional PT advises…

5) They don’t apologise!

There is never a need to apologise for not being able to do an exercise or lift a certain weight. What I look for when I am training my clients, is that they understand the exercise and give it their best effort.