With summer here and still fresh into the New Year, getting fit is probably on your mind. We’re all about sustainability, and when it comes to fitness that means figuring out how you can keep sustaining it after your initial burst of enthusiasm fades. Personal trainers can help, but they’re not all created equal, and the wrong kind might even get you injured. Guest blogger Joe Sprange, who’s an elite athlete and personal trainer, is here with some tips on how to separate the good from the bad.
If you don’t want to become an Olympian, you don’t want a trainer who only trains Olympians. When someone solely focuses on training twenty-five year old men, they probably aren’t the right person to train a forty-five year old woman. And vice versa. Despite the boot camp image, not every personal trainer is competitive and intense. Many trainers are more than happy to let you take it easier if that’s your speed. You want them to set goals built especially for you. Ever since Day 1 at the gym, my mum has said ‘I’m not going to lift heavy weights.’ And she never has. Her goals are about maintaining fitness, not becoming Australia’s best deadlifter. A clear give away that a trainer is not for you is whether they take time to get to know you before you train. Over-training is a big factor in injuries, so at a minimum they need to know what training, if any, you’ve done before.
Do you believe thinner is always healthier?
A trainer who answers yes to this question is a worry. Fitness isn’t always about weight loss and a range of studies have shown that people carrying a little extra weight who exercise regularly tend to live longer than thinner people who don’t. Most people considering a personal trainer can usually do with shedding a few pounds, but it’s how you shed those pounds that matter. Avoid someone who thinks all carbohydrates are evil or are obsessed with one type of food over another. Nutritional fads come and go, but there’s general agreement on a good, balanced diet. Since weight loss is going to be 70% diet, you’re going to want that diet to be something you can live with for a long time.
This question probably isn’t going to be asked as much as it will be observed. Maybe you can watch them train or do a trial session or sessions with you. Most exercises that will help you improve the most are simple. Not only are overly complicated exercises unnecessary, they have a good chance of getting you injured. Even if you haven’t been to a gym in years, you should be able to tell if a trainer likes to make exercises needlessly complicated. Most human beings don’t have the coordination to do a double tuck pike, that shouldn’t be a goal. Balancing on a Bosu ball while doing a dumbbell press might be a great exercise for an athlete, but if that’s on the menu, go elsewhere. Your trainer’s number one priority should be for you to avoid injury. What’s the use of all the hard work you will do, if an injury sidelines you for months? Over complicated exercises can also mean longer and more frustrating workouts. Why work individual muscle groups for an hour, when you can work groups of muscles with the right exercise and get out of the gym in 30 minutes with similar results?
Do you actually like your trainer-to-be?
Again, more a question for yourself. Can you hold a conversation with them? Can you see yourself spending an hour or more a week with them? If not, go elsewhere. Training needs to inspire you, not drain you.
Joe Sprange has been the owner of Vision Personal Training Mosman since 2013. Joe came into the health and fitness industry after a career in advertising and marketing, including Macquarie Bank. For Joe, transforming members of the Mosman Community into fitter, healthier, happier people has been an incredibly rewarding journey. Joe has a practical, solutions based approach to helping his clients achieve their health and fitness goals within their busy lives. You can learn more here.