Staying in shape through regular exercise and playing a sport are great ways to remain in good health. You’ll see an improvement in both your fitness level and your overall state of mind if you keep at it.

One way to stay motivated is to recruit a personal trainer who can help you set attainable health and fitness goals.

The advantages of working out with a fitness coach are setting realistic goals, injury prevention and establishing lifelong exercise habits. Are you considering hiring a personal fitness trainer? Take a look at this guide on how to choose the best suited personal trainer to help you reach your goals.

The Right Trainer for Your Specific Goals

Choosing the right personal trainer will go a long way towards ensuring you achieve your overall fitness goals. It is essential that you make sure that the person you’re entrusting your health and wellness to is knowledgeable and experienced. The ideal fitness coach or personal trainer will keep you motivated and inspired, and will also be someone you feel comfortable with at every stage of the workout process.

Working with a fitness trainer lessens the chance of you picking up an injury. You’ll also reach your desired goals within a realistic timeframe.

How to Choose a Personal Trainer

calorie counting staircase
With the right guidance, you can reach your goals. ⎢Source: Unsplash

There are a number of factors to bear in mind before you begin your personal training journey, and these are set out below.

Specify Your Goals and Needs

To find your ideal certified personal trainer, you will need to be clear about what it is you hope to achieve from your training sessions.

Whether it's improving your sports performance, reducing your body fat percentage or part of your overall plan for a healthier lifestyle, your trainer needs to know what your target is.

This way the trainer can draw up a programme tailored to your specific needs and expectations.

Verify the Trainer's Qualifications

To become a personal trainer and deliver a reputable service to clients, a coach requires a specific, recognised qualification. There are many personal trainer courses in South Africa, and these are available through colleges and private training institutions. It is also possible for a personal trainer to have obtained a degree in Sports Science, which is offered by the University of Johannesburg and Stellenbosch University.

Your trainer needs to be aware of your limits. ⎢Source: Unsplash

Upon completion of an accredited course, trainers are eligible to offer their services via a range of institutions and facilities, including leisure centres and gyms.

An accredited qualification assures clients that a personal trainer is capable of:

  • Implementing first aid and CPR
  • Designing proper exercise programmes
  • Performing screenings, such as fitness assessments and body composition analysis
  • Knowing and promoting optimal nutritional principles
  • Training individuals and groups.

Do your homework and ensure that your trainer's qualification is accredited and recognised by the Register of Exercise Professionals in South Africa (REPSSA).

Check the Trainer's Specialisation

Personal trainers have different areas of specialisation, so, depending on the results you are aiming to achieve, one trainer will be better suited than another to help you reach your target. Whether you simply want to get fit, aim to develop your core strength or plan to run a 10km marathon in record time, you are sure to find a personal trainer who specialises in that area of fitness.

Doing some research will definitely save you valuable time and will help you avoid injuries!

two women exercising together
Choose the trainer with whom you feel most at ease. ⎢Source: Unsplash

Enquire About Scheduling and Availability

Always enquire about your potential trainer’s timetable. For a successful fitness dynamic, you’ll need someone who can work around your day-to-day schedule.

Find out where your sessions will be held and how flexible the trainer is when it comes to working out your exercise programme.

The following are important things to be aware of:

  • The trainer’s cancellation policy
  • The number of clients he or she currently has
  • Whether or not training appointments and time slots are fixed for the month in advance.

Make an Informed Choice

It is important to compare the profiles of the personal trainers available to coach you, as these could differ vastly. Qualified fitness coaches and personal trainers will know the best way to work with your abilities and how to help you achieve your goals. With a personal trainer who is compatible with you, you’ll learn the best practices for each method of training and type of exercise.

If possible, try to find a trainer who will give you a free introductory session. This way you can determine whether or not they are a suitable fit for you and your desired fitness goals.

women training in gym
Make sure to discuss your objectives with your personal trainer. ⎢Source: Unsplash

On the Superprof platform, most personal trainers offer a free initial session. The site allows you to filter your search to find personal trainers according to your location and how much you are willing to spend. You are also able to view important information about each trainer, such as what their qualifications are, their level of experience, the range of physical activities they offer and to what extent they are willing to tailor their programmes to suit each client's needs.

What to Expect in a Session

Be it aerobics, Pilates, weight training or bootcamp-style workouts in the park, each workout will follow a pattern that ensures you’re getting the most from the session and are doing everything possible to avoid injury.

With a personal trainer, you will be taught how to warm up correctly; an essential step for avoiding injuries. Having a designated workout plan will help you track your training objectives and be aware of what each session has in store.

Why Warm Up?

The warm-up will get your muscles, heart, body and mind ready for the workout ahead. This is of utmost importance for any physical activity, and it is a non-negotiable element of a personal training session. In addition to the physical and mental benefits offered, the warm-up gives you insight into the personality and strictness of the personal trainer you’ve chosen.

No workout should begin without a proper warm up!

Your personal trainer will usually start you off with a few light cardiovascular exercises, combined with stretches and strength drills. The warm up exercises will steadily increase your heart rate and blood circulation, which will in effect loosen your joints and increase the blood flow to your muscles. Warming up will give your body time to gradually get ready for the routine ahead and, at the same time, it offers you the chance to prepare yourself mentally.

Make sure to do all the warm up activities correctly as this will affect your performance throughout the exercise sequence.

The Main Training Session

High intensity training
Your workout will be tailored to your needs. ⎢Source: Unsplash

This is the part of the routine where you will intensively work toward achieving your goals and becoming healthier. The main sequence is therefore, generally, high-intensity.

Since your goals would have been established beforehand with your fitness coach,  your training session will include activities that are specifically targeted to your requirements and current physical condition. Based on what you want to achieve from your new routine, your personal trainer will suggest the best methods to help you reach each of your goals.

Together, you can develop exercises and healthy strategies that can be incorporated into your life.

Remember, each personal trainer has their own way of running their sessions. You need to decide which methods are best for you. Choose the trainer who will keep you inspired and motivated throughout your fitness journey, one who will make sessions fun and help you feel good about yourself. You should feel like you’re gaining a wealth of knowledge at the same as you are getting closer to reaching your goals.

Toward the End: Recovery

When you're powering through the sequence of exercise activities, it is important to remember that the gentler recovery phase of the session comes next.

Low-intensity exercises will help reduce the build-up of lactic acid in your muscles, which will reduce any post-workout stiffness and discomfort. The recovery phase will also promote blood flow to your joints and muscles.

Every personal trainer will tell you that the recovery phase is vital to help you cool down, and each one will have their own unique set of post-training methods. However, these methods will always be related to the the type of exercises performed during the main workout and tailored to suit your recovery needs.

Whether you’re feeling euphoric or depleted at the beginning of the recovery session, the knowledge that you have reached your targets makes this final phase more enjoyable.

woman exercising outside
Perhaps your trainer will give you lessons online.⎢Source: Unsplash

Find the Best Fitness Methods for You

The great thing about personal trainers is that each one has their own proven methods which are aligned to their personal style of training. They will adapt their techniques to assist you in developing your made-to-measure fitness plan and to help you achieve your goals.

Whether your goal is losing weight, toning up, or increasing your endurance, there is a personal trainer who is a specialist in a technique or type of exercise that can help you.

A great personal trainer will ensure that you achieve all your desired goals and that you leave the session feeling proud of yourself!

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A South African in France who loves to travel and discover new cultures, is passionate about photography, and who is happiest near the ocean.