Asia presents its occupants with great opportunities to get fit, lose fat and look great. The lifestyle is more relaxed, gyms are more affordable and personal training is more within one’s means.

In Vietnam, where the gym scene is booming, there are more and more freelance personal trainers available for hire. But how do you decide who best meet your needs and desires?


The fitness industry is mostly unregulated — especially here in Asia — and with all the misinformation and myths regarding what is best for achieving fat loss, health and wellbeing, the general public is left in complete limbo. If you are thinking of seeking help with your fitness and fat loss desires before the Christmas and New Year period, here are a brief set of guidelines on how to select a trainer, so you can choose wisely and also know what to expect.


The Key Aspects


First, you need to consider their qualifications and certification. A qualified personal trainer has an education in physiology, health promotion, athletic training, kinesiology or a similar field. They should be certified by a reputable organisation with a Sports Science Degree, NASM, ACE, Charles Poliquin, CHEK practitioner or similar.


Second, what’s their experience? Have they honed their skills in a gym or clinical environment, developing practical experience and knowledge under supervision?


In today’s information saturated world it’s harder to choose because the above qualifications don’t actually tell you anything about the true effectiveness of the personal trainer you get. Hence, here are some additional questions you should ask to guarantee you’re getting your money’s worth.


What assessments do they perform?


Assessments should always be completed. It is impossible to properly prescribe exercise if the trainer/practitioner does not test joint range of motion, posture, strength imbalances, movement patterns, flexibility and so forth. These assessments tell the trainer what exercise and programme is required… without these, it’s guesswork.


How do they track progress?


What is tracked will vary from client to client, but there should always be a system of tracking the programme and progression.


Monitoring allows exercise, nutrition and lifestyle professionals to track exactly how each client is doing so that we can make adjustments if and when necessary.


How are their training programmes?


There should be no ‘one size fits all’ programmes. You should see a correlation between assessment findings, and a programme that addresses the findings.


What do they think about exercise machines?


Machines are far less effective because they ‘turn on’ fewer muscles and don’t let your body move in the way that nature intended. This increases the chance of injury — especially when you try to use your body in real life.


If a trainer’s programme has more than three exercises based on ‘machines’ like the leg press, chest press or — especially — any abdominal machine, then be careful!


End results


Any trainer that can answer these questions to your satisfaction should be able to help you get results. Personal training is not about ‘beasting’ you in a workout, but assessing your needs and developing a plan to achieve your goals. Your trainer should be able to clearly map-out your journey with them and explain the expected progression involved.


Employing a trainer can exponentially improve your workout effectiveness and efficiency, as they provide educated structures and guidelines. However, if you are not seeing results within four weeks, you need to ask some questions. Be a conscious customer and you’ll get what you’re paying for.


Phil is founder and master trainer at Body Expert Systems. Contact him on 0934 782763 or at his website or through Star Fitness (

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Phil Kelly

Phil is an avid sportsman and loves most things fitness. With the final realisation that he would not be an All Black, he turned his full focus to studying the human body in regard to improving movement and posture, developing strength, function and performance, as well as scrutinising the conventional wisdom of nutrition for fat loss and performance. He loves challenging the 'norm' and is dedicated to the prosperity and health of his clients and the community. He has a mission to educate and empower people to "be all they can be" by providing accurate, research proven and industry leading information. 


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