QUESTION: I would like to hire a personal trainer in the new year. How do I know if I am choosing the right one?
ANSWER: The fitness industry has become awash with personal trainers in the past few years, which can make it so confusing to know who to choose.
What makes a good trainer? To be honest, it is several things, but certainly the experience/cost ratio has to be one of the most important factors for me.
When I started training people, I charged €25 a session as I felt this was what my experience was worth. I was fresh out of college and didn't have much experience at the time.
Over the past 13 years my price has gradually increased as I gained more experience. When looking for a trainer, ask them when they qualified, what their experience is and what their fee is. This will give you a good initial guide.
From there, you want a trainer who encourages you as opposed to bullies you, one who will build a plan specifically for you as opposed to giving you the standard programme for everyone.
Every trainer has a look they will train your body towards, so it is important to identify this look – is it the look that you want?
For example, some trainers aim to attain a more athletic physique, others will be more muscular and others more balanced.
Personal training isn't cheap, so you want to ensure that you are getting the most for your money.
Ideally your trainer will set targets for you, assess you on a regular basis and work towards these targets with you.
Also you should see what you are getting for your money – are you getting 30 minutes or 60 minutes? Do you get access to classes? Do you get a discount for paying for a block of sessions?
Above anything, I always think that you should go on your gut feeling when you meet the trainer, it needs to be someone that you get on well with, feel comfortable in their company and someone who respects the goals you are working towards.
QUESTION: I want to get my wife a fitness-related present for Christmas. Any ideas?
ANSWER: I love nothing better than shopping for new workout gear at any time of the year – there is such cool stuff out there that it can be hard to choose. Here is a list of some cool christmas ideas for your partner:
* Garmin 110 watch: GPS watches will record your speed, distance and time and can be a great present for anyone who runs. It will help them to work harder and get better results from their runs too.
* A race entry: This can be one of those presents that can benefit you too. Why not pick a race anywhere in the world and make a weekend out of it, pick a nice hotel and treat yourself to a fun weekend away?
* New gear: Columbia have some fantastic new clothing out for athletes, some of their winter clothing will keep you warmer than anything out there, and their jackets are very very toasty indeed
* A surf lesson: Ireland has become one of the best surf spots in the world and there is a surf school in pretty much every coastal county in Ireland. Most lessons are two hours long, include the board, wetsuit and tuition and are great value at €30-€40.
* A GoPro: This is the more expensive option. GoPros are amazing outdoor cameras that can be attached to anything – they are waterproof and shockproof and will record video as well as pictures. Be prepared for lots of selfies!
* Cookery classes: Cooking is incredibly fashionable at the moment, so why not book a cookery course for your other half? Somewhere like The Happy Pear in Greystones does brilliant, healthy cookery classes that will ensure you get some healthy meals cooked for you too, which is always good!
* A subscription: 'Irish Runner' magazine has some great Irish contributors and great articles from all aspects of health.