This is a topic I have been meaning to write about for a very long time. It pains me to sometimes see people paying a premium to a personal trainer that is not really even that good or worse – not even focused on their client during a session.

All too often I see trainers, lazily counting their client’s reps, looking around the gym or focused on their phone, while their client has incorrect form and is potentially hurting themselves.

Then there are those clients who I see diligently training with the same trainer for months, even years without any change in their appearance or even their level of fitness. Heck, a few years ago when I still lived in Cape Town, that was me! Training with a trainer three times a week for three years and seeing little to no results – to be fair, the way you eat plays a big part, however in those three years, the way in which I was trained by my PT didn’t change either – which is not how it’s supposed to be.

So with that, this is my advice for choosing the right trainer for you:

  1. Check their qualifications: Check whether their qualifications and what they specialize in fits your needs. There is no point you training with someone specializing in endurance sports training when that is not your focus – the big gyms usually have a write-up of each of their trainers in the gym pasted on a wall somewhere.
  2. Spy on them in the gym: Then, do some recon in the gym of that trainer that you are interested in – watch them and how they train their clients for a week or two, so you get a sense of what kind of training style they have and their behavior while with a client. Are they constantly on their phones? Are they paying attention to their client 100% of the time? Does the client look like they are being challenged?
  3. Speak to their clients: It’s worth speaking to some of their clients, ask them how long they have been training with their PT and during that time have they seen a change in their body.
  4. Get a complimentary session: Then, finally approach the trainer and tell him you are interested in getting a personal trainer (don’t commit to that trainer yet, be vague so he knows, you are considering other trainers too). Most personal trainers will give you a complimentary session so that you can see how you like their style of training.
  5. Be clear about your goals: It’s important to know what you would like to achieve and the trainer should be able to plot a route to what you want to achieve. Listen carefully when you speak to them as to how they suggest you achieve those goals. I had a friend who trained with a trainer who just ignored what she wanted to do. She wanted to incorporate some boxing and he just ignored her request – while they are the experts, they should be able to strike a balance between your needs and what they suggest in their expert opinion for you to achieve the goals you have set.
  6. Make sure they are flexible: I trained with a trainer many years ago, the very first time I got one, who while she was good, she was very rigid in terms of scheduled times. I lost a few sessions simply because I was ill, I got the scheduled day wrong for a session and she refused to reschedule the session for me. A trainer needs to understand life happens and sometimes it is either a genuine mistake if you miss a session or out of your control, they should be flexible enough to accommodate you. If they refuse to – this may not be the trainer for you.

I hope these points above help you make the right choice in trainer. What I will add is, when you do decide on a trainer, give them at the very least 6-8 weeks to make some changes to your body, I would give a trainer 12 weeks (three months). If in that time you see little to no change (having properly changed your eating habits) – it may be time for a change. Be clear with the trainer that you want to train with them for only three months, then they know there is a deadline and a time frame in which you expect to see a change on your body.

Good Luck!


Happy Healthy Fabulous

Photography: Hemisha Bhana