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How to choose a PT…

Someone who’ll build you up — not beat you down

Newsflash: Contrary to what popular weight loss TV shows tell us, apparently your personal trainer doesn’t have to yell at you and reduce you to tears to get results (yes, there is a touch of sarcasm there…). But how do you pick a winner when they are sooooo many to choose from? We got the inside info from accredited exercise physiologist and personal trainer Brent Goriss, who also trains the fitness instructors and PTs of the future.

“A good PT should always be prepared for every training session, have client-specific programs already developed, and treat each client individually” – Brent Goriss

What’s the role of a personal trainer in your eyes? It extends well beyond just the exercise aspect. A personal trainer should be an exercise professional who develops and delivers safe and effective programs for their clients and educates them on all aspects of health and wellbeing (nutrition, exercise, lifestyle changes etc). The role of a PT should extend beyond just the personal training session — the trainer should be sculpting their client’s lifestyle to promote a healthy work/life/exercise balance.

So, they don’t all yell at you and make you cry? A good personal trainer should not have to yell at their clients and definitely shouldn’t make them cry! By building a good trainer/client relationship, motivation can come through so many other avenues than yelling and being abusive. PTs who yell at their clients actually turn people off.

How important is personality in the equation? Personal training very much involves managing people, hearing about their personal lives (family, work etc), and strategising how the client will reach their goals. Therefore, if personalities don’t connect, the relationship between trainer and client won’t last very long.

What should you expect from a PT when you first sign-on? A PT should firstly instil confidence in their client. They should be fully qualified and hopefully experienced somewhat in the field. As a client, I would ask as many questions as possible of the trainer to ensure their knowledge base. Initially, when a client first ‘signs-on’ with a trainer, the trainer should go through the formal processes of a health screen and lifestyle questionnaire, a fully comprehensive fitness assessment (to establish goals and improvements over time) and also a Trainer/Client Contract or Agreement. The personal trainer should also find out as much information as possible about the client (exercise history, injury or medical concerns) and also provide a detailed nutrition plan and daily/weekly exercise schedule.

“No matter what the client, if people are willing to be consistent with exercise, diet and other lifestyle habits, then success will follow” – Brent Goriss

Then what happens from here? The trainer should be constantly tweaking the program in order to achieve their client’s goals throughout the course of the training. Personal trainers can become very lazy and robotic, giving all clients — regardless of their goals — the exact same program. This is not only unsafe, but it also reflects a PT who hasn’t got their clients’ best interests at heart. Regular fitness assessments should be conducted to establish the effectiveness of the programs and to also provide the client with motivation of seeing results being achieved.

Complete this sentence: “A good PT should always…”…be prepared for every training session, have client-specific programs already developed, and treat each client individually. A good PT should always have the personality to motivate and go that extra step above and beyond what’s expected of them.

What’s your proudest moment as a PT? From helping people lose over 50kgs and hitting their goal weight, to training athletes who have been very successful in their chosen sport, I have had many proud moments as a PT and exercise physiologist. It’s a very rewarding career when you can totally change a person’s life for the better. I have had experiences with elderly people who become significantly more functional, children who have been morbidly obese and people rehabilitating from injury. No matter what the client, if people are willing to be consistent with exercise, diet and other lifestyle habits, then success will follow.


It can be harder than doing 50 burpees, but — ideally — try to meet with a few different trainers first and consider the following things:

  • Are they fully qualified?
  • Do they have experience with clients who have similar goals?
  • Observe the trainer when they are training other people (are they motivating, do they look interested and engaging when training other people, what is their body language like? E.g. Are they texting on their phone)
  • Ask other people — word of mouth is usually a good indication of good and bad PTs.

About Brent Goriss

Brent Goriss BSpExSci (Hons) is an accredited exercise physiologist and personal trainer with over 15 years of experience in the health and fitness industry. He’s currently a personal trainer and exercise physiologist at the Zoo Health and Fitness and delivered the Certificate III and IV in Fitness qualifications through the Barrier Reef Institute of TAFE for over seven years. He is now delivering the Certificate III and IV in Fitness course through the Human Performance Centre (HPC). Brent is also a strength and conditioning coach.

Healthy Addiction Personal Training Facebook | The Zoo Health and Fitness

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Carly Lubicz

Carly Lubicz

Carly Lubicz is combining two of her great loves — writing and getting active. Previously working as a journalist, sub-editor, and editor in newspapers and magazines; she is editor and co-founder of TheGo Townsville. She stays active with the staples of road cycling and yoga, but has recently discovered triathlon. And become addicted (apart from the swimming part). She also has a Cert III in Fitness and is passionate about improving mental health through physical activity.

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