It depends.

If you are self-motivated, disciplined and knowledgeable about fitness, then one-on-one sessions may not be for you.

But, if you’re embarking on a fitness routine with the intention of losing weight (the number one reason), increasing strength, endu-rance, flexibility, speed, balance, or a combination of those areas, then hiring a PT might be an option.

A PT is a fitness professional who creates a customised workout to help you achieve your fitness goals.

He or she will push you past your comfort zone – something difficult to do on your own.

Competition for clients is fierce and some trainers market themselves on their unique expertise or athletic coaching experience, while others claim to do it all.

If you are self-motivated and knowledgeable about fitness, then you may not need a PT. Photo: 123rf.com

If you are self-motivated and knowledgeable about fitness, then you may not need a PT. Photo: 123rf.com

A few even provide a money-back guarantee if results are not visible within a certain time frame!

Needless to say, personal training is a growing industry in our overweight nation.

Hiring a PT doesn’t come cheap, but it’s an investment for your body.

Whether you’re engaging a trainer at the gym or independently, make sure he or she is certified as a trainer, as well as in First Aid and CPR. If he cannot provide proof, please don’t hire him!

Just because a trainer has a degree, it doesn’t mean he makes a great coach, but it’s a starting point.

Your PT trainer should be able to demonstrate that he stays informed and actively pursues continuing education through classes, workshops, lots of reading or literature review, and industry-networking opportunities.

Always ask for a trial session first before committing yourself. Gyms are always trying to sell these PT packages, especially to exercise virgins.

Who is right for you?

Easy – it’s like a relationship. You have to be comfortable, communicate well and bond to make things work. Your personalities must suit each other.

Decide beforehand if you’d prefer a gentle, non-pushy soul, a demanding task master or someone encouraging.

Let him or her know your injuries and concerns before starting your session. An experienced PT will be able to spot your weakness quickly and correct your alignment where necessary.

As lame as it sounds, looks always sell and a PT with a toned body is always a hot item. They walk the talk. This might be an additional motivating factor when signing up.

Often times, obtaining a certification or passing a test doesn’t necessarily translate to being skilled.

I’ve come across many PTs who are ill-equipped with anatomical know-ledge and confidently rattle off muscle names without knowing where it is located.

I once overheard a PT telling his client to bend over and touch his toes to stretch his “tight quads”.

The client had no idea where these “tight quads” were and proceeded to do as instructed.

Months later, the same client approached me for advice on lower back pain and he innocently told me that every time he stretch-ed his “tight quads” (pointing to his hamstrings), he’d feel a pulling sensation on his lower back.

I had to explain to him that he was stretching the wrong muscle and that his forward-bending stretches were one of the culprits contributing to his pain.

His PT obviously paid little attention to his woes.

The average gym-goer has little knowledge on anatomy so the PT often gets away uncorrected.

If you’re not sure what the scientific names mean, ask the PT to explain in simple terms, e.g. front of the thighs (quadriceps), chest (pectoralis), calves (gastrocnemius/soleus), etc.

Eating tips

A good PT recognises that you are what you eat. He should spend time talking with you about your nutrition, as well as provide a basic meal plan and a realistic approach to eating.

Beware of PTs who sell nutritional supplements to see faster gains. Many are involved in direct selling schemes for additional income.

I’ve heard stories of PTs giving clients magic potions and herbal injections to “enhance youth” and hasten weight loss.

They come as cheap as RM50 a shot. Sadly, many well-educated women (and men) fall prey to this.

I’m not sure what substance is being injected into the body, but these women claim to see rapid results. Always check with your doctor before taking anything.

Remember that your PT should concentrate on you and you alone. He shouldn’t be talking or texting on his mobile, or glancing at other people while putting you through your paces.

He shouldn’t be working out with you either!

The PT must concentrate on you and you alone during your session, or else, fire him Photo: TNS

The PT must concentrate on you and you alone during your session, or else, fire him Photo: TNS

If you’re not a gym-goer and distance is an issue, you can get the PT over to your house, or seek personal attention on the web.

Many trainers now offer online coaching via Skype or Facetime.

The only drawback is that you may not have equipment to work with unless you have free weights or a small gym at home.

A PT may not be for everyone, but even elite athletes and fitness professionals can benefit from one.

If you’ve hit a plateau or need to shed those last few kilos or need correction on your form, a PT can shed light and offer you guidance.

You may have all the know-how, but sometimes, you just need that extra push to take you to the next level.

According to a study published in the Journal of Sports Science & Medicine, working out with a PT increases your fitness-goal success rate by over 30%.

The study found that the influence of direct supervision during workouts had a huge effect on the outcome of training.

The fitness world is constantly changing, so there may be new methods out there that can help you tweak your performance to achieve the desired results.

Whatever you choose, the key is to enjoy your workout.


Revathi Murugappan is a certified fitness trainer who tries to battle gravity and continues to dance, but longs for some bulk and flesh in the right places. She’s bidding adieu to the stage this year with a final performance. The information provided is for educational and communication purposes only and it should not be construed as personal medical advice. Information published in this article is not intended to replace, supplant or augment a consultation with a health professional regarding the reader’s own medical care. The Star disclaims all responsibility for any losses, damage to property or personal injury suffered directly or indirectly from reliance on such information.