How To Choose A Great PT By JAE


Fitness is still spreading wider and wider across society, and having a Personal Trainer is more popular than ever these days.

If you are reading this article the chances are you either ARE a Personal Trainer, have HAD a Personal Trainer or KNOW a Personal Trainer.

The last 5 years has seen a massive surge in the number of gym chains offering in-house trainers (whether freelance or part-employed). Also on the rise is the numbers of these trainers per gym; with some large clubs in London having up to 40 trainers!

Even more telling is the uptake of these services within some gyms, up to 10% of members in the well known chain gyms are having PT (So around 300 out of 3000 members!) and some boutique, high end or PT Specific studios it’s 50-100%.

The story is that Personal Trainers are in demand, but sadly as with every industry there are financial reasons behind it: Trainers are a very large and reliable revenue stream for any club or studio owner. It's like having an employee that pays you!



It’s hard to believe, but many gyms and agencies are struggling to keep up with the demand for PTs these days. As a result the "new breed" of Personal Trainer in many cases is less experienced or less qualified than before. Hey, even your humble author was once an architect and graphic designer. I didn't qualify from University with any fitness related degrees, so I'm not speaking from an ivory tower (Just making educated observations!)

So there is clearly a flood of new, young and less experienced Trainers in most gyms, but there is also a flood of new Trainees to match. One goals of this article is to help people understand how best to spend their time and money, and to set the correct expectations for this transaction.

Being a self employed trainer is tough, and around 50% of PTs will not make it in their new career and go back to another job within 12 months. Being self employed needs ruthless time management and self-motivation. So there is a fast turnaround of these aforementioned new PTs, many of them are in their first few months of their career.

This doesn't mean that these trainers cant help you or wont be the perfect match, but a keen Trainee should make an informed choice about how they spend their money. The gym itself doesn't really care who you end up with, but you should care. If you want a BMW you would expect to pay a premium for it. A Ford will still get you from A to B of course, and there is a massive market for both cars. Decide what you need and how much you want it!

In my opinion there are some simple Pros and cons of hiring a less experienced trainer:


  1. They may be more enthusiastic! (may put more effort in, listen better)
  2. They are likely cheaper so you can “have" more!
  3. They will have more availability so you'll have a better choice of session times.



  1. Communication skills likely to be less honed.
  2. Experience and skill-set obviously less.
  3. Business model is less robust and reliable (chance of failure/leaving the gym)
  4. They WILL at some point make you squat on a BOSU (kidding)!


The relatively new concept of being an “Online Coach” or “Prep Coach” has exploded thanks to social media and platforms like Instagram, where it is easy to build a “business’ overnight simply by hosting a few photos and staking claim to any number of skills or achievements. Sadly all is not what it seems, and just like on the gym floor - skill-set divides vary wildly, as do levels of experience and cost of course.

Whilst choosing a Trainer in a gym affords you some protection (Gyms require trainers to have formal and up to date qualifications and professional insurances etc), Online things are much less regulated. No one is going to come and check up on you when you're sat in your home office.

So for the foreseeable future you have to accept that the online relationship is much more uncertain. Do you really want someone to train you for 16 weeks that has no formal qualification? Or someone that just got themselves into shape for a show and now professes expertise?

You have a TONNE of choice in the gym or online so don't recruit blindly.

ONLINE vs 1-1:

I have been delivering 1-1 Personal Training for 8 years now, and doing Online Coaching for 4 years. As time goes on, my services are demanded by a more and more specific group of people, and i find the enthusiast and fitness competitor becoming more and more part of my business. I certainly find that those asking for Online Coaching are predominantly those doing bodybuilding or fitness shows, needing “prep”.

I also find there to be an endless demand for 1-1 training with the beginner to intermediate trainee (where the Trainer can help more with motivation, basic education and verbal encouragement)



PT is notoriously an expensive service and you deserve to get the best out of your £40-100 p/h, so here is a quick guide to what to look out for and what to expect:

1: Before hiring a PT ask yourself EXACTLY what you hope to achieve (what are your goals) and WHAT exactly is going to be the quality in that trainer that you’ll benefit from.

Do you need a drill sergeant? Do you need a mentor or teacher? Do you need a friend?

See below a few of the most common reasons that clients have a Trainer:

“I just need someone to force to get down the gym, otherwise i’ll never go”

“I’m so new to all of this, I need someone to show me the ropes. All these weights exercises are kinda scary and Ineed a professional”

“Personal Trainers have magical powers and as long as i can afford one, I'm sure to lose this annoying extra bodyweight!”

“I really benefit from having a spotter and someone to encourage me. Training is more fun with someone else, and i’m more likely to stick at it”

“I need to take my training to the next level, and i need an experienced Coach who can tell me exactly what and how as far as diet and training. I’m super committed to this but i acknowledge that an expert will get me even further”

Each of these wants and needs above comes from someone with different goals, mindset and expectations. Trainees VARY just as much as the trainers so you need someone that aligns with you!

If you just need someone to encourage you, teach the basics, or count your reps then by all means choose any trainer that approaches you. A new or less experienced one is likely to be cheaper and may well give you just as much for your money.

If you need help with a more specific goal or you know that knowledge or experience is a key quality, then you’d do well to look around the gym for a while. Watch the trainers and their clients, ask other gym members and even ask the Trainers themselves what they specialise in, and watch them training themselves.


2: THING TO LOOK OUT FOR ON THE GYM FLOOR (Sign of a great trainer):

  1. Good visible rapport between client and trainer
  2. Trainer paying attention whilst client lifts
  3. Trainer may be note taking, or using some form of program
  4. Trainer times rest periods (or enforces them in some way)
  5. Trainer encourages stretching or mobility (before or after)
  6. Trainer is using a variety of techniques/workouts for different clients
  7. Client spends most of his time working out NOT talking
  8. Trainer gives continued feedback on form/technique
  9. Trainer doesn't over-use positive reinforcement

3: THINGS TO ASK YOUR TRAINER (before and during your training phases):

  1. How long have you worked at this gym, and when did you qualify?
  2. Have you helped others with the same goal as me?
  3. Can you tell me or show me what sort of results they achieved?
  4. How will you chart and measure my progress as we train?
  5. What will you do if progress becomes slow or plateaus?
  6. What will you do for me that the other trainers here can’t?
  7. How will you ensure that my own personal workouts are effective?

Your trainer may choose to review or "check in" with your progress but don't be afraid to sit with your PT and look at the relationship as a whole, as a 2 way thing. I know from personal experience it is too easy to become complacent with clients when they are coming regularly, or when they are one of many. A trainer is always replaceable, and their customer service should be as good as their knowledge.

So whether you are new to the gym or you’re an experienced bodybuilder looking to compete for the first time - choose your Trainer wisely, and don’t rush into this important relationship!


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