So, you’ve had it with yourself. You’ve skipped gym for the 800th time and the prospect of a 5am trek to yoga class has made you go back to sleep way too often. Exercising off your multiple fitness apps doesn’t really work either because Silent Mode. What you need is some tough love and something you can’t just turn off when you’re not feeling like it—what you need is a personal trainer.
But aren’t personal trainers more the stuff of celebrity Instagram videos than a lazy 20-something’s extravagance? Nope. Celebrity trainer Radhika Karle of Radhika’s Balanced Body (022 2613 8589) says that there has been a spike in the number of people signing up for personal trainers in the last five years—and the demographic is getting younger. “We’re seeing a huge surge of men and women in their early twenties and thirties seeking personal attention, becoming more aware of their bodies or being referred by their physiotherapists.”
Make-up artist Elton Fernandez loathes gyms, and knew he’d never get round to shaping up on his own, so he decided to hire a trainer. After going through a couple of less-than-satisfactory partnerships, he found his answer in Rakesh Borkar (0 98337 54625). “I can’t do anything without someone standing over my head,” Fernandez says. “I’m also a major whiner, but he knows exactly how to push me. He makes me feel like I need to do it.”
A personal trainer keeps you motivated and gets you through your hardest workouts. Finding a qualified one who can get you to squeeze out another 10 reps without demotivating you or letting you off easy, is the Holy Grail. A knowledge of nutrition and dietetics is a major bonus. “You’re not just working with a trainer at a physical level. It is also at a mental and emotional level,” says Karle. “If you don’t connect with a trainer, it doesn’t matter how many certifications she has.”
So how do you go about finding the best one for you?
A fitness professional’s qualification can tell you a lot about his methodology and philosophy. This is especially essential if you have an illness or an injury. A few international accreditations to look out for are the American College of Sports Medicine and the American Council of Exercise; and for yoga, from Kaivalya Dhama or The Yoga Institute.
“You want someone who’s constantly up to date with developments in sports science and versatile with diverse forms of training, including yoga, cardio and weight-training,” says Ruati Colney, a personal trainer, who divides her time between individual clients and Radhika Karle’s studio. This way, she says, a trainer is able to devise a workout plan that best suits your needs.
Also, if you’re also planning to take nutritional guidance from your trainer, be sure that they are qualified to dispense advice and not just endorsing a brand they’re commissioned to sell.
The best way to know exactly what to expect from your sessions is to ask for a trial class, even if the trainer comes highly recommended. A good trainer will be precise with their instructions and will proactively correct your form where required.
Shivika Poonglia, 23, recently hired a personal trainer to teach her Pilates. And she’s delighted with the results; her persistent back pain, she says, has been alleviated greatly. Poonglia recommended him to her friend Samara Madhvani, 22, who enlisted him immediately for kickboxing lessons. But within 40 minutes of her first class, Madhvani sustained a wrist injury. She also found him a little too gentle, a quality that had worked perfectly for Poonglia. “A mistake many people make is jumping to hire a trainer who has worked wonders for somebody else, expecting the same results,” Colney says. “You need someone who connects well with you and whose specialisation aligns with your needs.”
“My trainer always explains the science behind his instructions,” says Fernandez, who has previously fired a celebrity trainer because he didn’t seem to listen and would routinely ridicule him for not being more ambitious. “I wanted the kind of shape I wouldn’t lose if I missed out on a few sessions,” he says.
Karle places strong emphasis on feedback and a goal-oriented approach. “Feedback also consists of outlining the path you’re going to be taking, explaining how you’re going to progress with the workout and what areas you’re going to focus on.” Yes, even just in the trial class.
If you’ve already hired a trainer and you’re not too sure about them, how do you know if you should continue? “If you’re not seeing the results you want,” says Colney, “Or if your trainer is disoriented, not paying attention to your needs or listening to your body when you’re not able to, it’s probably time to get a move on.” In other words, listen to your gut (ha).
Finding a good trainer, though, is like being in a good relationship—it makes you happy and invigorated and has several long-term benefits. Fernandez’s current trainer not only helps him sustain a strong, athletic frame, but also helped him house-hunt in Mumbai! “I love that he doesn’t think of me just as a paycheck.”
How to find yourself a personal trainer
Contact a gym: This is a great way to ensure the credibility of the trainer you eventually hire. Also, many gym instructors personal-train in their spare time.
Consult a physiotherapist: If you have an injury or a medical condition, it’s best to ask your physiotherapist to refer you to a personal trainer.
Go online: Fitternity has a comprehensive listing of fitness trainers tailored to your location and budget. Fitternity.com