How to choose a personal trainer

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If you’re trying to lose weight you probably want to enlist the help of a personal trainer. 

However, there are so many PTs out there that it can be hard to choose the right one.

If you’re serious about achieving long-term results, you need to make sure you choose the right personal trainer, because the one you choose will determine your results.

Unfortunately, many people choose the wrong personal trainer because they base their decision on the wrong things — things that aren’t going to get them the results they’re looking for.

Before we tell you what you should look for in a personal trainer, we want to highlight the red flags that indicate you’re heading in the wrong direction.

But be warned, they’re probably not what you expect.

Red flags: What to avoid when choosing a personal trainer

Location 

Most people start looking for a personal trainer by Googling “personal trainer near me”. But just because a PT is nearby, doesn’t mean they are good. As we will show you, when you find the right one, it won’t matter where they are located.

Cost 

The next factor that most people consider is how much the PT charges for their services. However, cheapness doesn’t guarantee results. In fact, the cheaper the PT, the less likely you are to achieve the results you’re looking for.

A PT who does bodybuilding comps

While there is nothing wrong with entering a bodybuilding competition if you want to be an athlete, don’t assume that a PT who does bodybuilding comps will be a great trainer. In fact, most of the time, these PTs are the worst trainers because they focus on willpower and motivation, and food rules and restrictions to get results, rather than habits. And because they don’t have good habits themselves, they are always chasing the next comp because they know that this will provide them with the willpower and motivation to help them stay focused and ‘on track’. If this is their approach, that’s all they can teach you.

Often PTs do bodybuilding competitions to receive validation so they can overcome imposter syndrome, because they don’t believe they are good enough trainers. Unfortunately, many people looking for a personal trainer believe that if someone has a whole lot of trophies on the shelf, they must be good at what they do. However, correlation is not causation. Competing in the arena involves different skills to coaching the person in the arena.

Credentials

While it’s important to ensure that your personal trainer has the right skills and credentials, correlation is not causation. This means that having a whole lot of qualifications and certifications doesn’t necessarily translate into them being able to help you get the results you’re looking for. The truth is that a lot of PTs hide behind courses because they suffer from imposter syndrome. And while they are busy getting accredited for all their courses, they’re not getting the experience in working with clients, which is necessary for them to be able to help you. For example, a doctor who has been working in the field for 10 years has more experience and knowledge on how to help someone, than someone who spends 10 years gaining more qualifications. If you’re a PT who suffers from imposter syndrome, check out our Fit Pro Business Mentorship Program.

Perfection

Does the personal trainer you’re considering have a perfect photo of their perfectly sculpted abs? What about the perfect before and after photos? Or the perfect social media feed of them eating their perfect meals? While this can look appealing, the truth is that personal trainers who focus on their appearance and promote perfection often have eating disorders and a poor relationship with food, which they try to control with willpower. If that’s all they know, that’s all they can teach you. And what about the people in the ‘before’ and ‘after’ photos that they show you? Where are they now? What do they look like now? The truth is that anyone can diet and deprive themselves and smash themselves with exercise to get a result in a short time. However, the most important thing is keeping your results. Willpower, motivation and perfection — the very things these personal trainers rely upon — don’t lead to long-term results. You can read more about this in our blogs Willpower versus habits, Weight loss motivation: Why willpower doesn’t work, and Why you’re not losing weight despite being perfect.

A Jack (or Jill) of all trades

If the PT you’re considering trains ‘everyone’, then they’re not the right personal trainer for you. Personal trainers who don’t specialise or have a niche take a cookie-cutter approach to their training, which means that you’re not going to get a personalised program that takes you and your situation into account.

A focus on exercise and nutrition

This is a very common approach taken by most personal trainers, but unfortunately, it’s the wrong one. If the personal trainer you’re considering focuses on exercising more, getting your steps up, creating a calorie deficit, limiting foods, following meal plans or promoting detoxes and cleanses, then turn the other way. This approach doesn’t work and you can find out why in our blog Why nutrition and fitness are the last things you should focus on to lose weight.

A PT who hides

A lot of PTs hide away and avoid posting on social media, or if they do post, they hang out on Instagram where they are less visible and exposed to criticism, plus all they need to do is use hashtags to get validation in form of likes and engagement. You need to find a PT who consistently shows up and unashamedly posts about what they stand for. Unfortunately, a lot of PTs struggle with comparing themselves to other trainers and worry about what others think of them, which means they hide away. But think about it. How can someone who worries and hides who they are, teach you how to build confidence and show up as your true self? Remember success leaves clues.

6-12 week challenges

PTs who run 6-12 week challenges are more interested in making money than helping you. The truth is that 6-12 week challenges cannot address the habits and mindset that have led you to become overweight in the first place, so using these as a way to lose weight permanently is just a waste of time. You can read more about this in our blog The Imani Difference: Why we’re not about dieting, exercising or 12-week challenges.

Inconsistency

Personal trainers who are not consistent with their approach and change their training or nutrition advice based on the latest fad will not be able to help you lose weight and keep it off. When it comes to weight loss, consistency is key. We explain this in our blog How to be consistent with your weight loss.

People pleasers

Most of the time, people enlist a personal trainer so they can be ‘pushed’ or ‘motivated’ because they believe this is the reason they have been inconsistent with exercise. Most of the time, personal trainers are happy to oblige, even if this won’t get their clients results, because they believe if they don’t do what the client wants, they will leave, which only perpetuates the habits and mindset that has led them to become overweight. 

People pleasers are not able to have the hard conversations that will help you transform. Instead, they will try to keep you happy and only enable your habits. And you can’t expect a people pleaser to teach you how to overcome your own people-pleasing habits. Personal trainers who are people-pleasers are more interested in keeping you happy so you keep paying them money than they are about helping you. So for this reason, you need to walk away. You can read more about the effect of people-pleasing in our blog Are you ‘too nice’? Why people pleasing is making you overweight.

Green lights: What to look for when choosing a personal trainer

So now you know what to avoid, let’s look at the things you need to look for — the green lights.

Success leaves clues

If you were building a house, you wouldn’t ask someone who had never built a house before to do it for you. The same applies when choosing a personal trainer. You can’t expect a personal trainer who has never been where you are, to be able to help you overcome your hurdles to get where you want to go. For this reason, it’s important to choose a personal trainer who has already achieved what you want to achieve, and who has overcome similar hurdles to you. You can read more about this in our blog Success leaves clues.

Someone who is more than just a PT

There are plenty of PTs out there who go round and round in circles, hustling for clients, watching them come, watching them go, only to have to start the hustling process again. This approach means they spend most of their time trying to recruit and retain clients, instead of training them. Most PTs also focus on food and exercise to get results. However, weight loss is never about fitness and nutrition. It’s about your habits, mindsets, beliefs and fears. So make sure you find someone who understands this concept and who can help you address the real reasons you’re overweight, instead of focusing on food and exercise. You can read more about this in our blog Why nutrition and fitness are the last things you should focus on to lose weight. 

If you’re a trainer who wants to become more than just a PT, check out our Fit Pro Business Mentorship Program.

Someone who is a specialist

PTs who don’t specialise in an area generally take a cookie-cutter approach to train people which of course won’t work for long-term weight loss, because what works for a 25-year-old male is not going to work for a 50-year-old female. Personal trainers who specialise, whether it be in training athletes, helping people with rehab, or training new mums are better at their job and more trusted in their craft. At Imani Tribe Transformations, we specialise in habit and mindset change, personal growth and development and long-term weight loss. After all, if you needed brain surgery would you visit a GP or a brain surgeon? If you need help becoming a specialist PT, apply for our Fit Pro Business Mentorship Program.

Coaching ability

Look for someone who has mastered the art of coaching – coaching is not fitness and nutrition, nor is it before and after photos. Coaching is helping you acquire the lifelong knowledge, systems, tools and skills to help you overcome the obstacles that are preventing you from having the body and life you want. Find out Why you need a weight loss coach.

Empathetic without enabling

The right personal trainer should be empathetic but be able to have hard conversations with you, so you can get the results you want. Most of the time people choose personal trainers who support their identity and enable them. While this may be comfortable, it’s not going to yield results. You need to avoid people pleasers and look for someone who empowers you to make lasting change. 

Authentic

Look for a personal trainer who is real and authentic. Someone who doesn’t try to be perfect doesn’t use filters on their photos, doesn’t promote perfection in eating or training, and someone who you feel is their authentic selves. When you make a real connection with a real person, your results will be better. You can read more about why perfection doesn’t work in our blog Why 52 imperfect weeks is better than 6 perfect ones when it comes to weight loss.

A master of habits

When it comes to permanent weight loss, you need to address the habits and mindset that led you to become overweight in the first place, rather than rely on willpower and motivation to change your behaviours. You can read more about this in our blogs Habits versus behaviour: know the difference and The solution to your bodyweight problem is not in addressing what you do, but why you do it. Someone who relies on willpower and motivation to get results cannot teach you how to master and overcome the habits that have led you to become overweight. That means when willpower fades, which it will, you’ll fall off the wagon and regain any weight you’ve lost. If you want to achieve permanent results, you need to choose a personal trainer who has mastered their own habits, so they can teach you how to master yours.

A system

A great personal trainer is someone who has an evergreen system that enables their clients to train and progress no matter what is going on. During lockdowns associated with the global pandemic, commercial gyms were shut and personal trainers were unable to train their clients. However, all clients with Imani Tribe Transformation were able to continue with their training at home due to our system. You can read more about the importance of a system in our blog Why a weight loss goal is bullshit without a weight loss system.

Content and resources for support

Does the PT you’re considering have their own content, or do they re-share other people’s content which is often repetitive or contradictory? At Imani Tribe Transformations, we have original, curated content, tools and resources to support our clients at every stage of their transformation journey. This includes blogs (including members-only blogs), an app, a members-only area, a private Facebook community, and of course our exclusive DATSTM Habit and Accountability Tool. Feel free to check out our extensive library of blog articles.

Rewards habits and mindset changes, not physical results

Most PTs reward physical results, but anyone can look good after 12 weeks of hard dieting and excessive exercise. When those 12 weeks are over though, these people go back to their old habits and mindset and end up gaining all their weight back, and more. 

The most important thing for long-term weight loss is changing your habits and mindset. That’s why Imani Tribe Transformations rewards habit and mindset change because when we master our habits and mindset, the results always take care of themselves. You can read more about how we do this and our Habit & Mastery Mindset certification system in our blog Why this is the biggest achievement of my life.

Goes beyond fitness and nutrition

People don’t have weight problems. They have personal problems (habits, mindset, identities, beliefs and fears) that reflect in their weight. That means to lose weight, they need to solve their personal problems, not rely on food and exercise like the diet industry says to do. You can read more about this in our blog Why food and exercise won’t help you lose weight.

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Focuses on habit and mindset coaching

Training with a personal trainer needs to focus on habit and mindset coaching rather than using exercise or nutrition to lose weight. This habit and mindset coaching should also involve coaching around the habits associated with the metabolic blockers of alcohol, stress and sleep because even if you’re exercising and eating perfectly, these three things will derail your results. You can read more about them in the following blogs Alcohol and weight gain: 9 ways drinking affects your body shape, How stress and weight gain are linked, and Sleep and weight loss: the unexpected connection. 

Employs smart programming

If you want to get permanent weight loss results, your training program should be well-rounded rather than focusing on cardio exercise to smash yourself and ‘burn calories’. Training should be structured on specific days at specific times with each session focusing on a specific muscle group. Training should be periodised, progressive and include structured rest periods. It should also focus on weight resistance exercise, include a small amount of cardio, as well as low-intensity activities such as walking, swimming or cycling. As well as considering strength, a smart program should also consider flexibility, mobility, and stability. You can read more about the ideal training program in our blog How to exercise for weight loss after 40. 

Flexible

While training programs should be structured, your personal trainer needs to be flexible to adapt and change programming on-demand to take into account injuries and life circumstances. 

Collects and tracks data

If you want to achieve permanent weight loss then you need to work with a personal trainer who collects data on you and then refines your program according to your data. If your personal trainer is not collecting data and tweaking your program, then they are either guessing what will get you results, or they are applying a cookie-cutter approach. You can read more about data in our blog Lose weight fast: The secret code to weight loss.

Personalised programming

Look for a personal trainer who can devise a personalised program for you based on your goals and your current situation. A personalised program should take into account what you want to achieve, where you are now, what habits and mindsets are holding you back, what abilities and limitations you have when it comes to movement, and any injuries (past and present) that you have sustained. This personalised program should also change as you progress.

Personalised consults

While we’re talking about personalisation, it’s important to work with a trainer who provides personalised consults where you can talk about your journey. At Imani Tribe, we offer all our clients 6-weekly consults where we discuss how they are progressing, what needs tweaking, what specific action steps they need to take to progress, as well as helping them identify habits that are hindering their progress or causing them to self-sabotage. Without this personalised consultation and the data we collect, we are unable to provide personalised programming that will get results.

Sets boundaries

Being able to set clear boundaries in your life is vital if you want to lose weight and keep it off. Setting up boundaries is a simple way to create more structure in your life and to provide you with a guide on what you will and won’t do to ensure you continue to make progress. However, you can’t expect someone without boundaries to show you how to set your own. Examples of boundaries to look for include the PT having set times for training, and set times for answering phone calls or consulting with clients. If your PT makes themselves available to you at all hours of the day and night, it’s a clear sign they don’t know how to set boundaries. You can read more about this in our blog Forget diets and food rules: try this weight loss tip instead.

Accountability

Does your PT let you do whatever you like or do they make you accountable for your actions? If you want to lose weight permanently, you need to choose a personal trainer who makes you accountable because this is the only way you’ll end up progressing. When you make yourself accountable to someone, you increase your chances of success to a massive 95%! This is why accountability is a key foundation at Imani Tribe Transformations. Accountability isn’t just being told what to do. You also need to make sure that your personal trainer walks the walk, instead of just giving your directions. At Imani Tribe Transformations, all of our trainers do what our clients do, because how can we expect them to do something we’re not prepared to do ourselves. You can read more in our blog Two things your weight loss plan must include.

Takes a consistent approach 

Look for a personal trainer who takes a consistent approach to weight loss, as opposed to one who follows fads. Fad diets and quick fixes might be easy to sell, but they don’t work for weight loss. You also want to avoid personal trainers who make money on the side by touting other products or who have affiliate arrangements with other marketing companies. To get results you need to be consistent and patient, instead of changing from one thing to the other. If your PT gets caught up in the latest fad diet or exercise craze or tries to onsell you products, it’s time to find a new one.

Doesn’t follow diet-based philosophies

Research has proven over and over again that diets and all the associated behaviours and mindsets don’t work for long-term weight loss. If you’ve been following diets but not getting the results you want, it may be time to do something different because nothing changes, if nothing changes. At Imani Tribe, we don’t follow diet-based philosophies, which is why our program works. You can find out more about what we believe in our blog Weight loss philosophies that will change your life.

Has a good relationship with food

To lose weight and keep it off, you must develop a good relationship with food. Often, this can take some time, especially if you’ve had a bad relationship with food for a while. The problem with many PTs is that they have bad relationships with food. This explains why they may engage in fasting, fad diets, meal replacements and even cheat days. If the trainer you’re working with doesn’t have a good relationship with food, they will be unable to teach you how to. You can read more about how to feel free around food in our blog How to build a good relationship with food. 

Inclusive 

If you want to achieve permanent weight loss, you need the right community and trainers around you. We look at this in our blog Why you need a weight loss support network to succeed. It’s also important to find somewhere where you feel you belong. Imani Tribe is a strong, supportive, and close-knit community that creates a welcoming environment. We treat everyone with respect and aim to ensure everyone feels safe, whether it be face-to-face or online, despite their race, religion, culture, sexual orientations, gender or identity. Read more about our vision, mission and values. 

Has long-term clients

When choosing a personal trainer, look at how many long-term clients they have, and how long they have been there. If the PT you’re considering has a long list of people who have come and gone, especially within 12 weeks, that’s a sure sign that they are not providing the right support or environment to get you results, and they are more interested in selling quick fixes than helping people. The longer a PT works with people, the better they get at their job because they see all facets and stages of the weight loss journey, and have solved many more problems. For example, PTs who have clients for 6-12 weeks only see problems that crop up during that short time and don’t know how to deal with problems that are common at the 6 and 12-month stage.

Invest in themselves and business 

Look for a PT who is continuing to invest in themselves and their business. They should always be growing and getting better so they can give a better customer experience and therefore get you better results. PTs who don’t invest in themselves won’t be equipped to help you overcome your habits and mindset or be able to go the extra mile for you.

Cost

Contrary to what most people think, the cost is one of the last things that you should consider. Cheap pricing ends up being expensive because you don’t get the results you’re after and you get trapped in the diet cycle for longer, making it even harder for you to lose weight. You can find out more about what you get with Imani Tribe Transformations at our pricing page.

Location

Honestly, if you’re choosing a personal trainer and they tick all the boxes above, location shouldn’t be a factor. Our ‘members only’ private, boutique transformation studio is located in Melbourne’s Outer East suburbs and our Face-to-Face DATSTM Program services clients in Croydon, Ringwood, Park Orchards, Warranwood, Wonga Park, Warrandyte, Doncaster and surrounds, right through to the Yarra Valley.

However, as we are a global online coaching business with flexible programming, we can train people anywhere in the world, through our Global Online DATSTM Program, which means that location isn’t an issue if you want to train with us.

The final word

When it comes to choosing a personal trainer, make sure you look for someone who will be able to help you increase your awareness around the habits and mindset that is holding you back and who can provide you with the knowledge, systems, tools and skills so you can continually progress with your weight loss, rather than someone who relies on motivation and willpower. Because when you address your habits, you won’t need motivation and willpower and weight loss will take care of itself.

How DATSTM Program helps 

The DATSTM Personal Coaching Program (habit, mindset, and weight loss) takes the guesswork out of your approach to weight loss and helps you identify the habits, beliefs, and mindsets that are contributing to your weight problem. You will work with two of the world’s leading personal coaches in habit and mindset change, personal growth and development and long-term weight loss to develop a personalised action plan that focuses on the things that will help you lose weight and keep it off. DATSTM will give you the knowledge, systems, tools, and skills to help you lose weight — even on your worst days.

If you’re a PT who has been reading this blog, and you want to tick all the boxes above, check out our Fit Pro Business Mentorship Program. We will help you become more than just a PT and build a wildly successful business that gives you consistent income and the freedom and lifestyle you desire.

In summary…

  • Many people choose a personal trainer based on location, cost and credentials.
  • Just because a PT has qualifications, lives close by and are cheap doesn’t mean they are the right one for you.
  • The things that most people look for in a personal trainer are the red flags that you need to avoid.
  • Imani Tribe Transformations helps people who want more than a good body just like you, lose weight for good and get the body, confidence and lifestyle you desire, through our global Diet Antidote Transformation System (DATSTM Program)
  • Our DATSTM Personal Coaching Program is different to other weight loss programs as it helps you identify the habits that are contributing to your weight.
  • It will give you the precise action steps you need to take to address these habits so you can lose weight and keep it off
  • Our DATSTM Program gives you the knowledge, systems, tools and skills to give you the body, confidence and lifestyle your desire, even on your worst days.

Want to finally lose weight forever and feel confident?

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