CHEK Lecture @ Cardonald College, GlasgowIn this post, I will give you some tools to give you an idea of the knowledge level of your potential trainer. A lack of knowledge in your trainer could mean not only do you not achieve your initial goals, but you might get hurt.

Even for most exercise professionals, knowledge levels of a personal trainer is a very difficult thing to judge.

Unfortunately, the truth is that most people can become a personal trainer with a very small understanding of the human body. The Register of Exercise Professionals (REPS) are an independent body that provides a system of regulation to ensure all exercise professionals in the UK have adequate knowledge, competence and skills.

In reality, REPS set the bar so low, that in my experience the majority of trainers that pass there accredited qualifications don’t know very basic human anatomy and simple exercise technique. So much so, that some could do more harm than good.

Now I understand that everyone has to start somewhere, but there really should be a mentoring type system where people are mentored for at least 2 years before being able to ‘go it alone’ similar to how trainee Doctors work.

It is very debatable as to what a good level of knowledge is. After 20 years of intense study and I would estimate over 5,000 studying  hours in that time, I keep on realising that the more I learn, the more I realise I don’t know. Also, there are many different ways to learn, not only courses and qualifications, such as seminars,conferences, books, audio books, pod casts, DVDs, internet, mobile phone and tablet Apps and indeed watching and talking to other professionals.

CHEK EC Lancs Pgn Des1What I can say with a lot of confidence is that the students I teach for the C.H.E.K Institute are often amongst the best trainers out there even before they start there training with us (our training is advanced training). However, on days one and two of our entry level (advanced) course, many are shocked at how much they don’t know and some are brought close to tears and consider dropping out as the training is too intense. And these are the best of the best!

I’m not suggesting that all CHEK trained trainers are better than everyone else. There are other good training providers out there.

I might be biased, but if you can find a CHEK Trained Professional, the likelihood is, there’ll be safe and effective. I actually don’t think I am biased. I have looked at other training providers and when I feel I will learn enough from them to help me improve and I’ll receive value for money, I study with them.

Since I finished my 5 ½ years of CHEK training in 2007, I have studied with other ‘exercise’ training-providers and the only two I felt I got good information from was the UK Strength & Conditioning Association and FMA Strength Training (both for training athletes).

I also watch other trainers who have been trained by other organisations and they just don’t inspire me to take their courses.

There are a few education gurus out there with very successful training programmes and eager followers. However, when I see their trainers at work, none of them seem to pay any attention to the biomechanical requirements of their clients or to correct exercise technique.

VID00018Your trainer should always be able to tell you why you are doing any particular exercise in the gym. They should be able to tell you what it’s working, what’s the aim of the exercise, how does it achieve that etc. Your trainer should be able to tell you what all the key teaching points are for each exercise and also tell you what the most common technique faults are for the exercise before you start. They should also be able to demonstrate the exercise with perfect technique. If they can’t do it with perfect technique, how can they expect you to?

Ultimately, do not be afraid to ask questions about what you are doing. Everything in your exercise programme should be in there for a specific purpose.

For you, as long as the trainer is constantly developing themselves and they come well recommended, then at least it’s a good start.

Stay tuned for Part 7, when I will show you how to look for a trainer that specialises in the goals you wish to achieve…