There’s a lot to love about paying someone to take charge of your workout – you’ll get maximum results in minimum time, improve your exercise skills and struggle to skip sweat sessions. And this perhaps explains why research from the University of California Los Angeles shows exercisers who hire a fitness trainer boast the best results. Compared to self-trained gym goers, those with a fitness instructor had more lean body mass, higher levels of V02 max, greater muscle power and enhanced strength. But not all instructors are created equal – it’s important to find one who’s up to the job. Here’s how to track down your perfect trainer.
Struggling to ditch the sofa? There’s nothing quite like a personal trainer for making you get off the couch and into the gym! “Picking the right PT is 90 percent of the battle when looking to achieve your goals,” says Joshua Silverman, head of education at No 1 Fitness. “You need to take your time and consider what you want because, let’s face it, you’re paying good money and expect results.”
LOOK FOR A PT who thinks of you. As Joshua explains: “Your PT should ask what your goals are during session one. If he hasn’t established your aims, you may find you haven’t got exactly what you ordered on results week.” Don’t forget to check your PT is on the Register of Exercise Professionals (REPs), too.
AVOID IF They don’t follow the 3S: Success, Science and Sustainability. “Your PT should have had success with people in your position, do things that have been scientifically proven to work for your goal and create results that are sustainable,” explains Joshua.
Indoor Cycling Instructor
You don’t need a good cycling instructor to make you pedal hard but a top teacher will motivate you to turn the resistance dial up. “A good instructor will inspire people in their class and coach, rather than instruct, the class to ensure people get the very best out of the experience,” says Dave Kyle, head trainer at Les Mills. “They’ll be knowledgeable about cycling and certainly used to riding a bike – this will help them to correct bad technique.”
LOOK FOR Someone with an Exercise to Music certification. This should be a pre-requisite to an indoor cycling qualification, such as Les Mills RPM Instructor, Spinning Instructor and Schwinn Indoor Cycling Instructor. “At Les Mills, trainers can go on to do the advanced instructor modules (AIM), elite instructor, tribe coach and even an international master trainer,” says Dave. Look out for one of those!
AVOID IF The instructor is more concerned about clocking their own cycling session! “Instructors shouldn’t talk too much but, at the same time, they need to offer the right amount of encouragement,” reports Dave. “Instructors who are self-indulgent aren’t focused on the class and won’t go far.”
Group Exercise Instructor
So you love getting your sweat on but need someone to help you muster up the motivation to work out regularly. Welcome to the wide array of group exercise classes, from Body Pump and Step aerobics, to Zumba and BOKWA workouts. “Look out for an instructor who knows the routine inside-out, regardless of whether it’s a new or old release,” warns Dave. “A good group instructor will offer regular updates in choreography, and there should always be a clear format and structure.”
LOOK FOR An instructor with the Exercise to Music qualification who has also attended the dedicated branded course, such as Les Mills Body Pump or Zumba Instructor.
AVOID IF You know exactly what to expect when you go to class. “The instructor mustn’t keep to the same routine for too long,” says Dave. “There will be no progression for the participants and no easier or harder options.” If your workout doesn’t challenge you, you’ll struggle to stay motivated and reap results. Capisce?
Whether you’re a newbie or have been doing Hundreds for decades, a good Pilates teacher makes all the difference. “A good Pilates instructor will set you up correctly, explain the movements and demonstrate if necessary,” reveals Luke Meessmann, head of TenPilates Academy. “They should also be able to tell you exactly what the movement is doing for your body; what muscles are being worked and where you should feel the exercise.” And if they can’t do that, run, run away now!
LOOK FOR A trainer who considers any health or injury issues you have. Search online for a qualified instructor. Body Control Pilates (bodycontrolpilates.com) is the biggest educational provider for Pilates in UK and has a register of qualified mat-based Pilates instructors.
AVOID IF Your Pilates teacher doesn’t know their stuff. Pilates instructors needn’t know everything but they should know what each move is doing to the body and how to adjust it accordingly. “Instructors are there to motivate and help you. If they aren’t doing that, it’s time to find yourself a new one,” suggests Luke.
Bootcamps are growing in popularity and there are many options available, from traditional military sessions to on-trend outdoor workouts. So how do you find the bootcamp that’s right for you? “When it comes to bootcamps, qualifications will only show you so much,” warns Richie Simpson at New You Bootcamp. “Seeing the trainer at work will tell you a lot more. How do they interact with clients? Are they adaptable to their needs? Can they get the clients to work harder when they’re fatigued?” These are the questions you should ask.
LOOK FOR A bootcamp fitness fans love. Check the website for testimonials and look at the Bootcamp’s Facebook page to get a sneaky peek of sessions. “Recommendation must be high on your list but look for a bootcamp that suits your training needs, budget and lifestyle,” says Richie.
AVOID IF The instructor doesn’t have an industry qualification, such as REPS personal trainer. “The trainer should have a bank of exercises and alternative exercises they can call upon to suit your needs,” says Richie. “Avoid bootcamps run by trainers who have limited knowledge and ideas.”
A yoga teacher can make or break your yogi session, so invest some time in finding the right instructor for you. The first question: do they consider your needs, experience and ability? “A good yoga teacher will give clear instructions and variations for beginners and injured participants. They must be aware of what everyone is doing and give adjustments where needed,” says Jessica Skye, founder of Fat Buddha Yoga. “Look for an instructor who is encouraging and patient, and has a solid understanding of anatomy and physiology.”
LOOK FOR A yogi with paperwork and plenty of experience. “A wealth of training in different yoga disciplines, as well as other health and fitness fields, is very beneficial,” says Jessica. Look for qualifications governed by Yoga Alliance or the British Wheel of Yoga.
AVOID IF The teacher has lost her yoga mojo. “If she’s uninterested in the class or has put little effort into creating an enjoyable session, avoid it,” suggests Jessica. “Poor instructors rush through the class and allow students to perform asanas incorrectly.