8 Questions to ask before hiring any Personal Trainer

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Marc Dressen a seasoned private fitness trainer with more than 17 years’ experience, including a Masters Degree in Sports Science gives a 8 step guide on what to look out for before hiring a personal trainer in the UK.

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I started out as a professional athlete (European Champion in Martial Arts) than studied at Europe’s Elite Sports University in Cologne Germany, went on to open my own Extreme Sports Gym and spent a year travelling the world to learn more about the fitness, sports and health industry in different countries (Singapore, Bangkok, Hong Kong, Japan, Abu Dhabi,  New York, …).

I discovered that the standard of  personal trainers, fitness trainers, fitness gurus, celebrity trainers and gym trainers varied massively, but the number of genuine fitness professionals with professional fitness backgrounds was extremely low. This makes it hard for you the customer to make an informed decision on what to look out for when hiring a personal trainer.

Here is a simple 8 step guide on what to ask before hiring a personal trainer.

1. What is your Personal Trainer’s training?

It is very important to ask your Personal Trainer what his/her training is.  In the UK, Personal Trainers must be accredited by REPs.  Generally speaking, most Personal Trainers have been accredited to Level 3 REPs which means they are qualified for general Personal Training.

There are many colleges that provide Personal Training education. Some colleges qualify people as Personal Trainers in less than 3 weeks, you can also qualify with an online course!  It is important to know how long your Personal Trainer’s training was and at which level of REPs they are accredited to.  Knowing this will help you identify the boundaries of what each Personal Trainer is qualified to do.  Bear in mind, Personal Trainer’s who have been trained and accredited properly won’t be shy about telling you all the details of their course, how many years ago they qualified and what they are qualified to do. Do your research, check your Personal Trainer out!

2. How long have they been a Personal Trainer?

Did your Personal Trainer just qualify last year or 20 years ago?  The price of their Personal Training should match their level of experience.  Most Personal Trainer’s core qualifications and training has come from other industries such as Accounting, Law, Design etc and they have recently switched over to become a Personal Trainer.

It is important to ask your Personal Trainer what their core training is and when they switched over to become a Personal Trainer.  This will help you to determine their level of experience and make a sound judgement with regard to their fees.

3. Is your Personal Trainer actively participating in Continued Professional Development (CPD)?

Asking your Personal Trainer what qualifications and studies they are currently engaged in is important because so may new changes, developments and studies reveal new and innovative ways to train smarter.  If your Personal Trainer stopped his/her studying at REPs Level 3, then you the customer are missing out on new trends, efficient training methods and the latest research.

4. Does your Personal Trainer ask you to sign an agreement?

It is important to protect yourself from harm and negligence and that is why each Personal Trainer should ask you to sign an agreement to clarify the terms, conditions and boundaries of the partnership.

5. Does your Personal Trainer have the capability and education to prevent injury and deal with old injuries?

Most people do have old aches and pains.  It is important to visit your Doctor to get medical advice before starting/continuing exercise.  You should tell your Personal Trainer of any aches and pains and your Personal Trainer should consult with your Doctor.  Remember, Personal Trainers or Fitness Instructors are not educated to diagnose illnesses, only a registered Doctor/Health care professional are allowed to do this.

Red Flag – If your Personal Trainer diagnoses an illness this is a clear sign of a breach on many levels, including over stepping the boundaries of their education, REPs Code of Conduct, insurance amongst many others.

6. Level 3 REPs – what does it really mean?

In the UK, most Personal Trainers are qualified to Level 3 REPs.  What does this mean?

REPs Level 3 Personal Trainer is the standard requirement or qualification to be able to work as a PT in the UK. REPs is an independent, public register which recognises the qualifications and expertise of health-enhancing exercise instructors in the UK. Jean-Ann Marnoch, chief registrar, says the standards are reviewed regularly, but points out that REPS membership is voluntary. Bear in mind, some training organisations allow people to train and become accredited at REPs Level 3 entirely by completing an online course and 1 assessment day! Additionally, many training organisations ‘qualify’ Personal Trainers at Level 3 REPs in as little as 3 weeks!

Do your research!  Would you trust and hire an Electrician who just qualified last month on an online course?

“It’s not rocket science for a reasonably intelligent person to work out that exercise professionals are not produced on courses lasting two weeks, six weeks or even 12 weeks,” says Alan Gordon an exercise and nutritional specialist with more than 40 years’ experience, including a degree from the sports specialist Loughborough University.

7. Are your Personal Trainer’s testimonials real and recent?

Be curious! Don’t just take every Personal Trainer’s word! Ask to speak to their customers and remember if the Personal Trainer is doing a good job they will have no problem in introducing you to a current customer.

There are many Personal Trainer websites with endless recommendations and testimonials.  The CAP (Committe of Advertising Practice) states clearly that each “testimonial or endorsement used in a marketing communication is genuine and hold contact details for the person who, or organisation that, gives it.  Showing that a testimonial is genuine has two elements; showing that the quote is from a real person and that it reflects what they said”.

Things to consider: When was the last testimonial? Was it written by a real person?

8. How many customers has your Personal Trainer served?

The value of a Personal Trainer is in their experience.  How many other people with the same requirements as you has your Personal Trainer actually trained?  Any Personal Trainer worth their salt will have a backed up record of who they have seen and for what reason.  It is perfectly fine to ask your Personal Trainer about this, and if they are what they say they are then they won’t be shy about sharing this information.

Thank you for reading this post, please feel free to leave a comment below or get in touch via the contact form.

This post was written by Marc Dressen:
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