Thursday, 31 March 2011

Personal Training... with a general tone...

I recently visited another gym (mentioning no names). I was visiting friends in the area on consecutive weeks and ended up using the gym on a Tuesday and on the following Wednesday.

I saw two extreme opposites examples of personal training. One I really liked, the other I really DIDN'T! During which I observed what I called "Personal Training, with a general tone."

One of the "better" (read "busier"), personal trainers / better salespeople had clearly become so stuck in a rut, or perhaps lazy that they were churning out the same exercises, and possibly full "personal" training session for client after client!

He got my attention as he was seemingly looking for it judging by his twitchy movements, excessively loud voice and chanting as he counted repetitions.

HIS CLIENTS... Client one on Tuesday - overweight female, late 20's. Client two, fairly muscular male, aged 40+. On the following Wednesday, same female client followed by a very slender lady in her late 40's. SURELY, these 3 different people shouldn't require the same program of exercises and intensity of work?

MEANWHILE... in the matted area there was a very slender trainer going quietly about his business concentrating on his female client's core stability and working some nice, functional, yet challenging exercises for his client designed to encourage strength, muscular balance and core stability; finishing their session with a brisk bit of interval resistance work. Yet I only saw him on the second visit so assume he was less busy?

Immediately after, he was working with a very lean male in his early 30's (at a guess) who, as many men do, seemed to be looking to "bulk up". They worked major muscle groups, only concentrating on arms as the second part of a super-set and seemed to be allowing the client significant rest time when they were lifting heavy. They occasionally worked to "failure" and used a few super-sets; the whole session looked tough but worthwhile.

Trainer one had taken the "personal" out of "personal training" and was simply making his clients tired, not better! (Quote 3)

Trainer two had clearly thought about his clients, their needs, ability and end goals and from that, created a personalised session offering them, in my eyes, the most benefit.

This got me thinking about how both members and employers should approach this situation...

Before you think about personal training in any way keep an eye on sessions and trainers around you. Ask yourself, is that session suited to the client? Have I seen the trainer do a similar session or set of exercises recently? Does it look enjoyable? Could I and would I do that on my own? Watch a few sessions and ask these questions each time before selecting a trainer.

Here's a few checks to make sure that your trainer worth your hard earned cash...

1- Is your training specific? Have you discussed goals and does your training match up to what you're trying to achieve?
2- Are you tracking success? Depending on your goals, is your trainer making sure that you're making progress through monitoring specific areas such as weight, body fat percentage, strength gains etc?
3 - Is your trainer a "fad" trainer? Do they learn something new and then blitz you with that until they pick up something else and then blitz you with that? Ie. They learn about TRX and that dominates your sessions, until their kettlebells course is complete and then THAT'S what takes over your sessions?
4 - Are they PESONAL or are they more concerned with talking to other people in the gym and checking their phone? Not the be all and end all but it's annoying and VERY unprofessional!
5- Do they give you anything extra? Sure, you signed up to an hour a week but I treat people as I'd like to be treated - is YOUR trainer conscienscious? Will they ever call or text or show that they listen to you in the session by adjusting the next session or bringing articles or other relevant things to your next session?
6- Do you know what your session "usually" involves? if your trainer does pretty much the same session week in week out give them the elbow? Sure, if you want to get good at squatting, the best thing to do is squat. But, if your goals are more generic, such as weight loss, then there are PLENTY of things that you can do!
7- Do they show you that they're educated? Do they clearly explain WHY you do things? HOW you do things? Do they offer you new ideas and tell you of new things they've learned? If not, they're probably not learning

There's plenty more but that's a good start :-)
There is a CLEAR need for the gym boss or head of personal training to step in here. In my mind Personal Trainers have too much free reign and as such, too much opportunity to veer off track and become lazy, too focused on sales and less focused on quality of session. Ultimately, a good business is run on retention and referrals, deliver good sessions and these will take care of themselves.

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