How to find a great personal trainer in Cornwall
In this article I'm going to tell you exactly how to find a great personal trainer in Cornwall.
Technically, this same advice could be used to find a good personal trainer anywhere but I'm based in Cornwall and I'm addressing my fellow Cornish residents.
How easy is it to become a Personal Trainer?
This question needs to be addressed first because the answer gives an immediate insight into why personal trainers vary so much in terms of how good they are.
To become a personal trainer you need ~2 grand and ~6 weeks free time to attend training. You can also become a personal trainer via online studies which typically takes a bit longer.
I chose the online route because I was working a full time job and didn't want to lose my source of income before qualifying.
The course is broken down into core modules:
- basic anatomy and physiology
- Using weights and gym equipment
Once you've completed the modules you book in to do an physical assessment which comprises of 3 multiple choice exams (70% pass rate) for each module and a brief demonstration where you take someone through a portion of a personal training session.
I spent 3 months working through my online course before doing the assessment day.
It couldn't have been easier.
In fact my actual physical assessment took literally 10 minutes. I started my "client" on the rowing machine and explained the basic technique. She did about 4 rows before the exam instructor told me to move on. I then did 4 chosen exercises and 2 stretches with my "client" and that was it...
That was it!
I was now qualified to take on real world clients and train them in the gym as well as offer up nutrition advice to them. After 3 months of part time online study, 3 multiple choice exams and a 10 minute PT demonstration.
Honestly, it's actually pretty scary.
I would personally like to see the industry seriously ramp up it's qualification procedures and benchmarking.
Anyway, for this reason I would choose a personal trainer who can demonstrate that they have worked with a lot of clients. This might seem a bit harsh to newly qualified personal trainers but there are so many opportunities for them to teach in studio settings to gain experience first.
(I spent 3 years as a trainer for a global fitness studio franchise called F45 and whilst it wasn't technically personal training I had the opportunity to work with thousands of clients during classes helping them with technique and form)
I see a lot of personal trainers listing their PT qualifications on their website and whilst they might look impressive they really don't mean much. I've already discussed how easy it is to get a PT qualification but personal trainers can also get "add on" certifications which are just a good way for personal training regulating bodies to make more money.
Some of them are useful (also required) such as the pre/post natal certifications but others such as TRX and kettlebell instructor certifications mean absolutely nothing.
Experience is key!
My issue with part time personal trainers
Now I'm not saying that there are no good part time personal trainers out there, but speaking from experience, what I do know is that I have been PT'ing for around 10 years and I'm still learning. A lot!
I simply cannot see how a part time personal trainer who works a full time job can gain the experience needed to become really adept at personal training. It would take a very long time.
Despite the fact that qualifying to become a personal trainer is really easy, becoming a good personal trainer is really hard. Again, just like most things, experience is key.
And don't even get me started on the nutrition side of things. A PT who has never further progressed their knowledge on nutrition effectively knows nothing about nutrition.
To become adept at personal training you need to have worked with a LOT of different clients to start to get an understanding as to just how different everyone's needs are.
You're just never going to get as good a service from a part time personal trainer when compared to one who does it full time, day in, day out, working with loads of clients.
Different clients have different personal training goals
Different goals means a different approach to training will be required. I'm going to give you a bit of a cheat sheet to help you identify if your personal trainer (or your past personal trainer) is doing the most optimal type of training for your goals.
One of the most common mistakes I see newer, lesser experienced or just bad personal trainers doing is essentially forcing their own programmes on their clients.
I made this same mistake when I first started out. My first handful of clients were all in relatively good shape and could do all the exercises I prescribed to them during the sessions. The exercises I was prescribing were the ones I could do and ones I enjoyed doing.
Then I started working with a client who was far newer to fitness and couldn't do any of my regularly prescribed exercises.
I had to really think on my feet during that session and it was probably very obvious that I was little out of my comfort zone trying to come up with exercise variations that would work.
That sessions was a real learning experience for me and I adapted accordingly.
I made it my business to add in a whole range of regressed exercises to ensure I knew ones that suited my clients ability levels. Not only that, I began to learn that not all exercises were suitable for all client types. Exercises that worked well for me often didn't work at well for my clients.
Over time and with experience, good personal trainers learn the multitude of common injuries and problem exercises that often occur with clients. They learn to adapt exercise based on their clients needs.
So, let's talk a little about goals and type of training that would be optimal for that goal.
- Goal: weight loss
Weight loss is one of the more common goals that clients come to personal trainers with. Interestingly, a personal trainer is not the ideal person to go to for weight loss unless (like me) they have a separate nutrition certification.
And that's because weight loss is primarily governed by diet.
So a personal trainer who says that you need to exercise to lose weight probably doesn't know what they're talking about. And worse still, a personal trainer who prescribes cardio for weight loss should have there qualification revoked.
Weight loss is will happen when your Calorie intake is less than your Calorie expenditure. Exercise can help with increasing Calorie expenditure but only to a certain extent. Ever heard the phrase "you can't out train a bad diet". Well that's true.
Apart from getting control of your Calorie intake, the other important factor surrounding weight loss is retaining muscle mass. Because when you diet and lose weight you don't just lose fat. Unless you do specific (resistance) training you will also lose muscle mass as well.
And that does NOT bode well for a nice toned body.
So, for effective weight loss your personal trainer should be working primarily on your diet and incorporating resistance training into your routine for best results.
You can read more about my fat loss coaching service by clicking HERE
- Goal: Hypertrophy
Hypertrophy is a fancy name for muscle gain. When I first started out as a personal trainer 10 years ago it was primarily men who wanted muscle gain but thankfully this paradigm has shifted a lot over the last decade and lots of women are eager to become stronger and leaner as well.
Muscle gain requires a few non negotiable things. Firstly, resistance training and secondly, enough protein (and overall Calories).
When it comes to the resistance training part, any personal trainer worth their salt should know about volume, frequency and intensity. These are literally the corner stones of a muscle building personal training program.
So if you've ever worked/work with a personal trainer with a goal of muscle gain and they didn't mention these things to you then I'd be very wary.
OK, so there are many ways to skin a cat. Sure, you could probably build a little bit of muscle from doing some kind circuit/HIIT training that includes some resistance exercises. But it would be far from optimal. Like really far.
If your goal is muscle gain and your personal trainer hasn't given you a daily protein target then that's a red flag.
- Goal: Better health
If your goal is better health then you should probably really enjoy your personal training sessions.
If your personal trainer is making you do things you don't really enjoy doing then ask yourself why.
Pretty much all exercise is good for health so get your personal training to program sessions that you actually enjoy doing.
Beware a personal trainer who makes it sound too easy
Listen, a personal trainer is there to tell you what to do in order for you to achieve your goal. They should be making the process as easy and as optimal as possible for you. That's what you're paying them for.
However, there comes a point where a personal trainer might be making some promises they simply cannot keep for the sake of getting your business.
A personal trainer with integrity will manage their clients expectations.
For example, I often have client consultations where a potential client will say something like:
"I want to lose 40lbs of weight and have washboard abs by this summer but I'm really busy with work and can only train twice a week plus I love going out to dinner with friends regularly"
If my response that was something like:
"Yeah that's no problem we can make that happen"
I would NOT be managing the clients expectation at all well. Based on what she has told me, it's highly unlikely that she can achieve that goal.
Whilst a personal trainer should guide you through the process optimally, you (the client) also have to put in a lot of hard work and any PT who says otherwise is either highly misinformed or lying to you.
Don't bother with a personal trainer who isn't reliable
This should probably go at the top of the list to be honest.
I know it seems obvious but personal trainers do have a reputation of being unreliable.
And it REALLY annoys me.
I've worked with countless clients who would tell me that their last PT would regularly cancel sessions, often 10 minutes before the session.
They would often go on to say something like:
"I was actually glad when they canceled because I was dreading the session. I hated doing them"
This is red flag number 2. OK, not everyone is going to love doing their sessions but your personal trainer should be working hard to make them as enjoyable as possible for you.
As I personal trainer myself, if a client no shows without giving me any notice I immediately terminate our business. I've had this happen countless times. I'm literally waiting to train my client and they no show. Often an hour later they'll text me saying they got held up.
Forget it. Go find yourself another trainer.
If a client regularly cancels sessions but gives me notice I will make an effort to find out why but ultimately if it continues, it's time to move on.
It works BOTH ways.
Your personal trainer should communicate with you well
You are literally paying your personal trainer to make this process easy.
You should never feel like you're in the dark about anything.
Your personal trainer should give very clear, concise instructions during the whole process.
During the actual workouts they should be constantly asking things like:
"How does that exercise feel?"
"Where do you feel that exercise?"
"Do you feel any pain when doing this exercise?"
"Are you comfortable trying this exercise?"
"Please don't be shy to ask my anything?"
"Do you understand why I'm getting you to do this exercise?"
You should feel totally at ease in their company.
To sum up
A personal trainer is someone you see very often. Sometimes more than your friends and family.
I work with clients 3-5 times per week. I see them all the time and communicate with them everyday.
Your PT should be reliable and trustworthy. You should feel confident that they have your best interest at heart.
If you find a good personal trainer your journey to better health and fitness will be a good one.
If you're based in West Cornwall and would like to work with me then checkout my services by clicking HERE
How to find a great personal trainer in Cornwall FAQ's
A PT can ask for money up front for a block of sessions or individual sessions. Ultimately the PT is providing the service and will set out their stipulations. Some ask for 50% of payment up front. Some are happy to collect payment at the end of the month or after the block of sessions is complete.
I think the bigger question to ask is "has your potential personal trainer done enough to make you trust the service they are providing"
Personal trainers often sell their sessions as blocks of 5 0f 10.
There's a few reasons for this.
Firstly it allows PT's to manage their finances more easily.
Secondly it promotes accountability for the client. A PT who charges per session often takes on clients who cancel sessions often or gives up half way through a programme.
Ultimately a PT is trying to run a business and so reliable payments are important.
Personally I allow reliable clients to pay per session if they want to but ultimately a reliable client has no qualms paying per month or for a block of sessions because they know they intend to turn up to them.
I think 24-48 hours is reasonable for session cancelations. It allows enough time for the PT to try and fill that slot.
For genuine illness I won't charge a client for canceled session but if it happens frequently the issue will need to be addressed.
Other red flags include:
-Standing with hands in their pockets
-Taking calls or texting during your session
-Ending your sessions early
-Eating during your session
A lot of it is common sense but it's quite amazing just how many PT's do these kind of things.