A couple of weeks ago I spoke to Michael Cunico, National Personal Training Manager at Fitness First, to get a little insight into the most common mistakes he sees happening in the gym (you can check out the full post here). Today he’s back, and we’re talking personal trainers – how a good trainer can help combat these mistakes and what you should look for when you’re searching for a PT.
So Michael, you’ve talked us through some of the mistakes you see in the gym – but how can a personal trainer help to combat these mistakes?
A fitness professional can provide support around knowledge, structure, progression and accountability. Investing time, effort and dollars with a personal trainer ensures you gain maximum results from the effort you put into your training.
Don’t know how to execute an exercise safely? Need someone who can help navigate all the information available to you regarding your health and fitness? A fitness professional is that person. We have an industry that has matured, and with it trainers who have also matured and been active in the industry for well over a decade. Educated and professional business people who make their livelihoods out of helping people achieve the goals they are after.
OK – I’ve bitten the bullet and booked an appointment with a Fitness First PT – what can I expect from my first session?
You can expect a discussion around what you’re hoping to achieve with your training, and for your personal trainer to try to understand you. Supporting someone on an exercise journey can be an interesting (and potentially long) road, so it’s critical that there’s a professional connection between you. You may also find that your trainer becomes a confidante to a certain degree, as they’ll generally be removed from your work and social circles and at times will be a refreshingly unbiased and non-judgemental ear.
Do you think that people who already exercise regularly will get the same benefits from a PT that novices will get?
They will want and need different things – for example, Roger Federer requires different things from his coach than I would if I had a tennis coach. That’s an extreme example, but novices will need the big building blocks, exercise technique, workout structure and nutrition basics, while experienced trainees will want those small differences (the one percenters) that will help them go further.
Why do you think so many people struggle to reach their health and fitness goals and how can a PT help you to overcome the struggle?
It can be human nature to shy away from the things that we’re not comfortable performing or things we don’t derive any satisfaction from. I hate ironing, so I avoid doing it, in the hope my shirts will press themselves if I leave them long enough. Sadly this strategy doesn’t work and eventually I succumb to the dreaded iron. Initially exercise can be like this for some people, but over time things that were a struggle initially become opportunities to learn and are seen as challenges rather than struggles. Trainers can be vital in learning and staying committed to the plan.
We have lives that are busier than ever, and it’s naive to think this won’t impact our commitment to training. Pressure at work, at home and pressure to stay connected to our friends – these are all critical to our happiness and often prioritised ahead of exercise. A trainer will never expect you to forgo these areas, but sometimes you may need reminding that your health is what enables you to succeed in these other areas.
Finding a good PT can feel overwhelming – what are the three most important things to look for?
Your personal trainer will be with you through blood, sweat and the occasional tear, so I would definitely recommend you work with someone who you have a positive professional connection with. You don’t have to be best friends, but you need to feel comfortable discussing all areas of your health. Trust is important, otherwise you’ll be tempted to lie about how you’re feeling or what you’ve been eating.
If you have specific and clearly defined goals then you may want to look for a trainer with a history of performance in that area. They don’t necessarily need to have been a world champion in running to provide you with coaching and support in this area, but looking for someone who has helped others achieve in this area may be a good option.
Finally I would watch how they interact with their clients and other members of your club. While perceptions can be misleading, you will learn a lot from viewing their sessions and watching how they interact with others. Look for someone who is engaged and focused on their client, but also readily available to talk to other members. This is a person who will need to inspire you, so make sure they bring energy to sessions and approach what they’re doing with a smile.
Michael Cunico is the National Personal Training Manager for Fitness First Australia. He is responsible for driving fitness programming innovations and the personal training business of the organisation. With approximately 1,200 personal trainers in Fitness First, Michael has spent the majority of his fitness career working directly with trainers and has delivered training to thousands of trainers both in Australia and abroad.