Last week we bought you Monique’s account of her three months with a personal trainer and as promised here is our Q&A with the man responsible for whipping her into shape, Joe Bonington. There’s some seriously good stuff here!

Why do you need a personal trainer?

“You need a personal trainer because you need professionally trained help. Things have come along way in our industry, we train intensively to become “experts”, the more well-rounded trainers also do courses in coaching techniques and personal development. Some of us are also trained in rehab techniques, massage and nutrition.”

How do you find a good trainer? And what qualifications should look?

“Don’t just look for a degree qualified trainer. As a minimum a trainer in Oz should be cert IV qualified. Find out how long they have been qualified for and their experience. Most importantly a trainer should have up-skilled since qualifying, ie: they should do courses every year to learn more.

Great credentials to look out for are Charles Poliquin PCPIP 1, 2 or 3, CHEK 1, 2, 3, 4 – people who have engaged in these courses have a very strong foundation in balancing and structuring a program for you. If you want a trainer who is very well-rounded with lifestyle and wellness qualifications that cover nutrition look for HLC 1, 2 or 3

Training is an investment so see if you can try before you buy. You are going to spending a lot of time with this person. You shouldn’t shell out money in advance if you don’t know whether you actually like the person’s company or respect their advice.”

How long do you need to train before a big event (ie: wedding)?

“For optimal results you will always need a minimum of a twelve-week lead in, you can do it quicker but I am talking optimal…. It also depends on how much dedication you are going to put in when your trainer is not with you and whether you are going to stick to the nutritional side of your program.”

How much do most personal trainers cost?

“Now this is a big question. How long is a piece of string? There is something out there for all income brackets. Generally the more experienced and qualified a trainer is the higher they will charge. A top trainer can easily charge $100+/hour for their knowledge and expertise.
Mid level trainers will charge between $70 and $90/hour.

Costs are also geographic. In general a rural trainer or somebody in the outer suburbs will charge a lot less than somebody based in the City, Eastern Suburbs or Northern Beaches. You can find some trainers who are either very new to the game or in a less affluent area charging as little as $50 per session.

Many trainers also run groups. If you are on a budget this is a great way of getting some expert advice for a fraction of the cost. You do have to be careful though – if you have any structural or medical issues, you would probably be better off with a personalised fitness regime.

Do PTs just focus on getting you fit or do they help with diet, mental stability and stress?

“As I mentioned before the good modern trainer is looking at your health as a whole. Put it this way, if your thought patterns aren’t right you will keep sabotaging success, this is why good trainers are also studying coaching techniques such as NLP and other forms of positive psychology.
Also, if you are not putting the right fuel in the body you are risking your long-term health and negating the effects of the exercise. Your modern trainer is knowledgeable in nutrition and wellness.”

How often should you train with a PT?

“Everyday of course! No, it depends on your goals, your motivation and your budget. You should be exercising at least five times per week, how often you see your trainer depends on if you are actually getting your backside moving all of those five days.”

What if you hate running and am really unfit?

“Take the plunge. ‘Hate’ is a strong word and we tend to bandy it around too much. Often we are just very self-conscious about things we think we can’t do well or we find uncomfortable. As soon as you see improvements you will enjoy it more.”

What are the biggest misconceptions about personal training?o That you have to be fit to start – the amount of times people say “I want to start PT but I need to be a bit fitter first” is crazy! o We are perfect bronzed Adonises who never have issues with chocolate, drink, coffee. o We are only for the rich and famous. This isn’t such a problem in Australia – according to industry surveys we have one of the largest number of trainers per head of capita and train across more income demographics than any other nation (the only people ahead of us are the Kiwis).

What is your number one fitness tip?

“Train with intensity across a number of disciplines. Some people think endurance athletes are the fittest people in the world but they can only do one thing. For all round fitness health and wellbeing you need to be able to lift, run, sprint, swim, throw and be flexible.

What is your number one diet tip?

“Eat only natural things, plenty of greens and vegetables and different meats. If it didn’t start life as a plant or with eyes don’t put it in your mouth.

What is your number one wellbeing tip?

Walk or run with gratitude, go for a run or a walk and give thanks for all the great things and people in your life, give thanks for the way you are, things you have done and things you are capable of. For more in depth info on this go to http://www.joebonington.com.au/blog/?p=72

What is the worst thing we can do for our fitness/overall health?

Nothing, just doing nothing. Anything is better than nothing. The “I’ll start tomorrow” syndrome is doing nothing. If you have decided to start exercising, don’t just wait until you can get to the gym; the same day you have made your decision, go for a walk, it will reinforce the positive thought processes that will carry you along to a healthier, better you.

For more great fitness advice click here!