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Looking for someone to whip you in to shape? Follow our guide to recruiting the perfect PT

It’s a fact: personal training is more popular than ever. A recent survey by Premier Training International found that 78 per cent of fitness graduates quit a previous job for a fresh start in the booming $3.81 billion fitness industry, and the demand for their skills is growing.

‘The trainer-client partnership is like all other relationships: you need to get along as individuals’

The good news is that this means you can demand more from your personal trainer – we’re talking on-trend workouts, the latest equipment and specific skills that cater to your needs. The bad news is that it can be difficult to find the right instructor for you in this vast sea of newly qualified fitness training partner? We’ve made it easy with our ultimate PT checklist...

Pick a location

Where do you like to work out? Maybe you like to exercise indoors with others, or maybe you prefer to escape the hustle and bustle. It’s important you know the answer and choose an instructor who offers a workout you’ll stick to. ‘You could go to a gym and meet a trainer with all the equipment,’ explains Steve Harrison, regional manager with Premier Training International, ‘or you could find a trainer who will work in your home.’ Or, search for a trainer who’ll get you fit in the great outdoors.

Shop around

How much time and money can you commit? Training fees can be steep, but there are ways to cut costs. Gyms often give members several free or discounted sessions and some employers offer similar incentive schemes. Got a friend who’s keen? Team up. Many trainers will instruct two or three people together, allowing you to split the cost. How do you find these trainers? ‘Word of mouth is best,’ says celebrity instructor Ricardo Macedo of www.r-fitnes.co.uk, ‘but check their references before paying for a block of sessions.’

Check their paperwork

Would you take health advice from a doctor who hasn’t passed medical exams? No way – and neither should you heed exercise advice from a trainer who hasn’t got the right paperwork.

‘There are PTs out there who have done little or no training and set themselves up as instructors,’ says Jean-Ann Marnoch from the Register of Exercise Professionals (REPs). ‘This could mean the exercise they prescribe is ineffective or unsafe,’ Trainers recognised by REPs have the qualifications and skills to put together an effective workout. Check your instructor’s website or portfolio for a level three or higher REPs certification. Or, find a V instructor in your area at www.exerciseregister.org.

Exercise your needs

Next question: What are your workout goals? As well as its three levels, the REPs accreditation system has many specific categories, such as weight-loss management or personal trainers specialise in these niche areas. ‘Search for an instructor with the right skills for you,’ tips Jean-An. ‘If you want to go to a group exercise class, check the instructor has the ‘Exercise to Music’ qualification. If you’re pregnant, look for a trainer with the ‘Pre and Post Natal’ skills qualification.’ There’s a comprehensive list of 25 professional exercise categories, ranging from Pilates and yoga to youth fitness or sports conditioning, so be clear of your goals and choose someone with the unique expertise you need.

Be inspired

While it isn’t essential that your trainer has bulging biceps and a toned tummy, do pick someone that you admire. ‘A good personal trainer will inspire you to meet your goals,’ agrees Ricardo. ‘Once you know an instructor is registered, the trainer-client partnership is like all other relationships – you need to get along as individuals.’ You trainer should be friendly and knowledgeable, but don’t panic if she can’t lift as much as you. After all, very few elite athletes are trained by people who can match them skill for skill in competition! The important thing is that your instructor has experience, passion and sets a good example. So, if your fitness guru likes to party until the early hours, or rocks up munching a chocolate bar, alarm bells should ring.

Make sure they measure up

You’ve found a qualified trainer and arranged your first meeting – what next? ‘A competent trainer about your medical history and try to find out as much about your past injuries, health, lifestyle, diet, targets and availability as possible,’ says Ricardo. ‘And expect your trainer to take measurements! A trainer who doesn’t note down statistical data in the initial consultation will not be able to monitor your progress.’ Your PT should also be able to tell you which muscles you’re working and why, and how this relates to your long and short-term goals. ‘Giving you unrealistic goals that you can’t reach is a classic sign of a lack of understanding,’ says Jean-Ann. Go for someone who keeps it real.

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