Bangkok Personal Trainer – 6 tips to find the right personal trainer in Thailand

So, you’ve decided to hire a personal trainer in Bangkok to help you reach your health and fitness goals. Like lovers, friends and business partners, not everyone is compatible in life, so it’s important to find the right personal trainer that suits you if you want to progress and achieve your goals.

The standard of personal training in Bangkok’s health clubs and gyms is generally quite low. Many of these chain gyms charge extortionate money for underqualified and unmotivated ‘personal trainers’ who care more about selling you your next 50 sessions than a real desire to see you improve.

In one of Bangkok’s largest chain gyms (that shall remain unnamed!) I’ve seen PTs more interested in phone messages and checking themselves out in the mirror than monitoring the progress of their clients. However, there are also some great outfits in Bangkok providing a thorough, extensive service and new innovative techniques.

Personal trainers can be great if you’re struggling for motivation, you’ve hit a plateau and have stopped improving, you prefer training with someone or if you’re coming back from an injury and have specific training requirements.

So if you’re considering hiring a personal trainer in Bangkok I’ve drawn up a list of things to think about and consider:

1. Are they organized, attentive and honest?

In summary, do they have the character and attributes of someone you can work with – honesty in setting realistic goals and feedback about what you’re doing right and wrong; punctual and organized in planning and implementing your program to fit in with YOUR schedule; and attentive to your needs by offering their full commitment and attention to you?

2. Are they a good motivator?

Whatever your reasons for getting a personal trainer, you should be motivated and inspired by them. Do they have a drive and enthusiasm that will rub off on you? Are you motivated and inspired by their achievements and outlook on fitness/life?

3. Are they qualified?

Don’t be scared to ask them what qualifications and experience they have. Make sure their qualifications are from a respected, accredited body, such as a REPS Level 3 (UK) or NASM (USA). Ask about additional qualifications and if they’re first aid qualified.

4. Do they offer discounts for bulk sessions or group training?

Ask if any discounts are offered if you book, say, 10 sessions. Many people like to train with a friend so see if any discount is offered for this. Your trainer may offer a second friend free or a set rate for groups of friends.

5. Are they a good role model?

Ask yourself if this is someone who practices what they preach. If your PT trains hard, looks after themselves and has a positive and energetic approach to life and fitness then they will also have a positive impact on you.

6. Are they pushy?

I’ve heard of all sorts of high-pressure sales tactics in the fitness industry in Thailand. Put simply, if they seem more interested in pressuring you to purchase more training sessions than your progress then steer well clear. Sometimes only a few sessions is enough to set you on your way; sometimes people need more. Be especially wary if they push supplements or pills onto you – although dietary supplements sometimes have their place, you can reach your fitness goals from a balanced, normal diet.

There’s a few questions to ask yourself when you’re thinking about hiring a personal trainer in Bangkok to help you meet your goals. If you’d like to discuss your fitness goals or anything else in this article please feel free to contact me.

Good luck!

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14 common gym mistakes

Training in the correct way can be confusing at first

You’d think that anyone who takes the time to train would like their time to be effectively spent and to get the best results possible. However, many gym-goers make mistakes that can render workouts ineffective, hinder progress or even cause injury.

Of course, anyone new to training or a gym environment will be unsure of what to do, but it’s not uncommon for people who’ve been training for years to make errors.

Below are some of the more common workout mistakes. If you’re new to training or the gym environment the points below will provide a good foundation for a solid and productive workout. If you’ve been training for years you might learn something new, too!

There’s quite a lot to take in here if you’re new to training but the points below should provide a good foundation for progress. If you’re stuck or have any queries please feel free to contact me. If you’re not sure about any of the terms used in this article, please refer to our glossary of fitness terms.

Too much time between sets

People often start daydreaming and take too much time between sets which means they’re not working their muscles hard enough and they’re stretching what could be an effective 30 minute workout into a less-effective 1 hour workout. You especially see this when groups of people are training together and have 5 minute chats between sets.

Giving yourself a set amount of rest time between sets, 1 minute for example, gives your workout structure, keeps your training time down, increases effectiveness and keeps your training consistent between sessions.

If you’re doing 15+ reps (for muscle endurance) then you should take a rest of 30 seconds – 1 minute between sets. 8-12 reps (muscle hypertrophy) should be about 1-2 minutes and for 1-6 reps (muscle strength) about 2-4 minutes.

If you reduce the amount of rest time between your sets, your workout will be harder and more intense. I personally time 1 minute between sets of 8-10 reps.

Lifting excessively heavy weight

This is one you’re guaranteed to see in any gym – guys throwing massive weights around with terrible form as quick as they can. Whether it’s through ignorance or just to show off, lifting weights too heavy for you is counter-productive and dangerous. Build your weight up slowly and focus on avoiding our next common mistake, which is…

Poor Technique

A classic example of an exercise that’s commonly executed with poor technique is the lat pulldown, with guys leaning back and jerking the weight towards them using the momentum. It’s this kind of movement which means the rights muscles aren’t worked and the risk of injury is increased.

A bicep curl performed correctly - many people lean back and lift the elbows which is counter-productive and can be dangerous

My advice would be to put pride to one side and rather than increasing the weight you’re lifting try slowing down the movement to 2 seconds up/out, 2 seconds down/in. Concentrate on good form so that the muscles that are supposed to be working are powering the move. For example, in a bicep curl ensure it’s the bicep that is lifting the weight and it’s only your forearms moving, rather than leaning back and lifting the elbows up or out for extra help. If you’re doing all this and still able to lift the weight in your desired rep range (for me, 8-10 reps), it’s time to progress and up the weight!

Lifting too little weight

You more commonly see this from women who are scared about bulking up and becoming too big, a common misconception. Check out our article on this… but this point is also aimed at anyone who’s not pushing themselves hard enough. To progress and reach your fitness goals you need to push your body beyond what it can comfortably do.

Working out too long

You often hear guys boasting of a 2 hour weight workout in the gym. This simply means they haven’t been pushing themselves hard enough and have probably been watching the gym TV or chatting to their mates between sets. If you follow the above advice by pushing yourself and keeping time between activity to a minimum, a weight training session should not go beyond an hour. If you work hard and are clever you can squeeze a solid chest or arms workout into 20 minutes, which will come as a relief to people who have busy lifestyles or don’t like spending too much time in the gym!

Overtraining, not taking a break

If you work a muscle group to absolute fatigue then it will take about a week before you can effectively work these muscles again. It’s during this week that your muscles are growing stronger and bigger so to train them hard again during this period can stunt growth and be counter productive. Training too often risks Overtraining Syndrome (OTS) which can cause injury, a weakened immune system, tiredness or general fatigue. This doesn’t mean you can only train once a week, but it means you have to structure your training so that your body is getting adequate rest, for example, by splitting your training into different body parts on different days, or by mixing up your types of training.

If you’ve been working out constantly for months without a break, try having a week off with some stretching and healthy eating. You might find that you’ll feel better, more motivated and you can break through your training plateaus on your return.

Just working chest and biceps and neglecting legs and core

Some newcomers to the gym think that being in good shape means having a big chest and biceps. In reality, this leads to an unbalanced look that pulls your posture out of a healthy and natural alignment. Each muscle has an opposite muscle that has to be worked equally, so as you build your chest muscles you must also build and strengthen your back muscles. Not doing this results in your shoulders being pulled forward and so poor posture and strain on the spine, which isn’t good.

Of course, overly focusing on some areas means neglecting others. I’d say most guys rarely work legs, which can lead to ‘Chicken Leg Syndrome’ – having a developed upper body but tiny legs that are out of proportion.

This learning point can be summarised by saying that workouts should be balanced. Whether you’re training for vanity or health there’s no excuse for not balancing out your workout to cover all areas. If you train purely for vanity (and there’s nothing wrong with that) you will look much stronger, healthier and ultimately more attractive if you’re well proportioned. Most people will think you look ridiculous if you have huge biceps but small legs so if you’re training to look good it pretty much defeats the point. If you’re training for health, then having a strong balanced body will help prevent injuries, back pain and will make you a more functional and all-round healthy person!

Always doing the same workout

Some people don’t like change, and so stick to the same workout that they know and love for years on end. By not mixing up your workout your body will get used to working in a certain way and so it will cease to develop and progress. Your muscles need to be ‘shocked’ by hitting them in different ways, so if you find you’ve hit a plateau and you’re not improving then it’s time to try something new. A few ways to mix things up can be: changing your grip, using free weights or cables instead of machines or by using some more advanced methods such as dropsets. It’s generally advised that you vary your routine at least once every 4-6 weeks, but I would encourage more often than this.

Too many isolation exercises

Some guidance when you start can really help

Compound exercises which work more than one muscle group should make up the bulk of your workout. Some people focus on too many isolation exercises which only work one muscle and joint, for example a bicep curl which just works the bicep. By doing more compound exercises (such as a squat which works quadriceps, hamstrings, glutes, lower back, calves, abductors and abdominals) you’re training your body’s muscles to work well together which is conducive to good growth and development. Isolation exercises do have their place, but you should do compound exercises at the start of a workout before moving onto isolation work.

Not warming/cooling down and not stretching

Another common mistake that many people are aware of but neglect anyway. By warming up the body first by some pulse raising activity and dynamic stretching you’re less likely to injure yourself and your body will be more prepared for the hard work ahead. Cooling down afterwards is also important to bring your heart rate down slowly which prevents blood pooling.

Stretching your muscles after they’ve been working hard is very important for a variety of reasons. Not many people enjoy it but stretching improves flexibility and posture, increases your range of movement which in turn improves sporting performance and day-to-day functionality, reduces muscle soreness and fatigue, aids recovery, decreases your chance of injury and increases definition in your muscles. If one or all of these things are important to you then you need to introduce stretching into your program.

Holding your breath

You should breath out in the positive phase of an exercise (pushing/pulling the weight) and breath in during the negative phase (lowering the weight). There is a tendency amongst newcomers to hold their breath which increases blood pressure and can cause fainting.

Trying to spot reduce certain areas

You cannot work out to reduce weight in a certain area, such as abs or hips. Put another way, doing loads of crunches and ab work alone will not give you a six-pack; a good diet and regular aerobic exercise need to be incorporated into your routine for best results and an overall toned and defined physique.

Not drinking enough water

If you feel thirsty then you’re already dehydrated. Keep well hydrated during your training and you’ll be able to work at optimal levels. Stay well hydrated by drinking 2-3 cups of water in the two hours preceding exercise and roughly a cup of water every 15 minutes during exercise. Hydrate yourself with water or low-sugar sports drinks (less than 8g carbohydrates per 100ml).

Leaving weights out, gym etiquette

This is a personal pet hate of mine and you see this from people who’ve been training for decades. When you’ve finished using your weights or equipment, put it back in its rack. When you’ve finished with a barbell, take the weights off the bar as the next person using it may be unable to do so. Leaving weights lying around is dangerous as other people can trip over them, and it shows no respect for other people or for the gym. Don’t be that person.

Fun, efficient and effective Bangkok workouts – summary

A 20 minute workout done right can be far more effective than a 60 minute workout done poorly. There may seem like a lot to take in here but by following these principles your workouts will be more efficient and effective, and after a while you will habitually and automatically apply them to your training.

I hope this article has helped you and please feel free to contact me if you have any queries about training.

Have fun!

Why weight training for women will NOT lead to excessive bulk and size

One of the main objections I hear for women not wanting to weight train is the fear of waking up one morning to find they look like Arnold Schwarzenegger in drag.

This is one of the most misguided myths regarding weight training and means that many women are missing out on the massive benefits that resistance training brings.

The main reason that women won’t pack on the muscle is because of the lack of hormones that are needed for large muscle growth. Women have on average 10-20 times less of the hormones that are conducive to muscle growth, such as testosterone.

One reason for this common misconception is the bronzed and oiled young ladies that you see on the covers of bodybuilding mags, such as the three pictured below. The reason for their Gladiator-esque physiques are:

  1. They train many hours a day and are professional bodybuilders, pushing themselves extremely hard to overload their muscles in a way that someone who trains normal amounts cannot do
  2. They are often use performance enhancing drugs, such as steroids, which raise the levels of these muscle-producing hormones to unnatural levels
  3. They eat huge amounts of the foods and supplements that are designed for bodybuilders and muscle growth

      

What weight training and muscle strength brings is NOT huge muscles, but the ‘tone’ that is so commonly desired – and with “I want to tone up” being one of the primary goals for almost anyone that trains you cannot afford to neglect this essential part of working out.

So, don’t be scared to push those weights HARD – you will not wake up one morning, look in the mirror and think ‘Jesus, I’m huge!’

Now that we’ve touched on the reasons you won’t end up looking like Rocky’s sparring partner, lets look at the massive benefits that pumping iron brings (in order of how important it is to the average female gym-goer):

1. You will gain muscle and boost metabolism

Building and maintaining lean muscle requires energy, so after resistance training your body will be burning MORE calories when you’ve finished exercising and you’ve collapsed on the sofa, or you’re asleep in bed. 1lb of lean muscle burns around 50 calories more per day, which really adds up.

2. You will become stronger without bulking

We’ve already explained why you won’t become huge, but you will become stronger which lessens the chance of injuries and strains, increases sport performance, increases vitality etc, with the added bonus of body tone and improved body shape!

3. It increases bone strength and density

Resistance and weight training stimulates osteoblast activity in the bones which builds strong and healthy bones and spine. Women are at an increased risk of osteoporosis (brittle bone disease) as they get older, so this is especially important if you want to grow old with grace, strength and independence.

4. Posture improvement and heightened attractiveness

If the muscles in the body are strong and flexible then they will give more support to the skeleton and your posture will be improved. This improved posture, body tone and shape, strong skeleton and lessened chance of disease will give you an overall ‘glow’ that will make you more attractive to the opposite sex. A bold claim, you might think, but very true.

6. Reduced risk of many diseases and ailments

The list of diseases and injuries you’re less likely to get is huge. In addition to a reduced risk of getting heart disease or diabetes, a stronger body will make back pain far less likely to have trouble from lower back pain, recent studies showing an 80% success rate in elimination. Stronger joints and bones reduce other strains and pains in the body that are brought on from inactivity.

7. It will improve your self-confidence, fights depression and adds to an overall feeling of wellbeing

Adding weights to your program will make you feel confident, healthy and happier. A Harvard study even found that 10 weeks of strength training for women was far more effective than standard counselling or drugs.

8. It’s never too late to start!

Women in their 70s+ can feel the benefits of light weight training. You’re never too old.

   

I’ll leave you with this: another study from from the YMCA in America has shown that the average woman in their first 2 months of strength training will:

LOSE 3.5lb of body fat and GAIN 2lb of muscle  =  less body fat %, more toned body, weight loss & higher metabolism

Hopefully these numerous benefits will be enough to inspire you and motivate you to include weight training as part of your program.

Good luck!