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You've made the decision to work with a trainer - what do you need to know before getting started? The first thing to understand is that all trainers are not created equal.

Under British law anyone can call themselves a 'personal trainer', so it's crucial to ask the right questions. Bad nutritional and fitness advice will not only delay you in reaching your goals, it could also be dangerous. So what are the crucial questions to ask of a trainer when getting started?

  • What certification do they hold? All trainers should hold a relevant certificate or degree in exercise and fitness. Many gym instructors do not have the requisite qualifications, so be sure to check your trainer's credentials even if they are recommended by a gym.
  • Are they insured? Your trainer should have a minimum of ?2 million public liability and indemnity insurance.
  • Are they accredited by the REP (Register of Exercise Professionals)? All UK professionals should hold at least an REP Level 3 certificate.
  • How many years have they been practising and what experience do they have?
  • Do they hold a current First Aid and CPR certificate?

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When you are just getting started, the initial consultation is crucial. Firstly the trainer should measure your heart rate, blood pressure, flexibility and lung functionality. If you have any specific concerns or requirements, from general weight loss to a post-pregnancy shape up, this is the time to address them. The trainer will determine your fitness levels and health history, and devise an appropriate programme. This should be put in writing so that both parties can refer to it in case of misunderstanding or disagreement. A typical programme would involve one or two sessions a week for two to three months, and you should expect to pay around ?25 - ?85 per hour, depending on location and experience. Sessions can be conducted at your home, at work, or at a gym.

Finding a trainer is much like the search for any other personal service - the best place to start is with a referral from a reputable organisation, or from people you know. Gyms and leisure centres often provide personal trainers, and you will benefit from the stability and support structure of the organisation.




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