It's time to get personal

Pat Henry

THE mantra of some personal trainers is that they will perform miracles in a week without much effort, some claim to walk on water, whatever it takes to achieve the goal for you.

In Ireland the personal training business has grown by 50pc at least over the last few years, with attendance figures growing all the time.

With people working harder and time being more valuable, clients do not want to waste time in the gym on exercises that may not be productive.

This is where a tailor-made programme designed for you gives the most effective use of your time in the gym or at home.

While money is tight people are taking care of their health and putting the money and energy into wellbeing, whether it be yoga, massage, Tai Chi etc. Clients say they are reluctant to spend money purely on gym membership, especially the large gyms where you are not going to get individual attention.

It's not the instructors' fault as there can be so many people looking for attention it's impossible to look after everyone. That's why many of large gyms operate on a low fee basis with an emphasis on doing your own thing.


This may entail doing 20 mins of a treadmill, 20 on the bike, 20 on the cross trainer and a few sit-ups. This is not a work-out, it may be better than doing nothing but don't expect dramatic results if this is your regime.

This is where the small boutique gyms come into their own, offering good knowledge and services, that is their selling point.

What sets some trainers apart can be the so-called celebrity clients they train. With some trainers you get a complete package, nutrition, exercise psychology and if you are lucky, someone who can relate to your particular problem and find a sensible solution. For some people their trainers become a physical and emotional crutch.


To get the best results it's important to get on with your trainer. It's like a relationship with, hopefully, mutual respect. If a trainer takes the boot camp approach shouting and screaming at their clients it won't last. People who want to shape up and lose weight are feeling low already and don't need some muppet shouting and screaming at them. I know of one trainer who sent a horrendous email telling their client they were useless and if they didn't stay on the programme not to come back. (They didn't!).

At present we are awash with trainers, some who are experts after a week of training. We see it all the time -- no room to learn and charging ridiculous amounts of money for half-hour sessions.

In Ireland there are many good trainers, some who use extreme heavy weights and diets, some who use kettle bells, some who free style.

Personally, I believe the trend for using heavy weights for women is wrong. Increasing weights can cause shoulders to slouch forward and the frame gets a very thick look. So it's really important to check out what your trainer sees as your potential and see if you agree.

We are constantly seeing clients whose figures have been destroyed with stupid exercises with no thought given to the end result.

When you read about the so-called celebrity trainers in Britain or USA, they seem to be building their careers on mentioning their famous clients.

There's nothing wrong with this but at the end of the day the you will need more than name dropping from your trainer.

Having worked in Hollywood with the great Vince Gironda, who trained Marilyn Monroe, Steve McQueen etc, I remember him saying celebrities can be bad for business as people think that's all you do.


Celebrities come and go, but look after your clients and they will stay and renew. We have had many requests to close the gym for celebrities but our policy is that all our clients are equally important.

So if celebrities want to train after hours when the gym is closed that's no problem, they may be here for a day but your members are in it for the long haul, so you need to put their interests first.

The cost -- some trainers in the UK are charging £400 per hour which is crazy. In Ireland the average charge is between ¤60 and ¤120, though there are some charging ¤100 per half hour. I hope they are good!