Asia presents expats with great opportunities to get fit, lose fat and look great. The lifestyle is more relaxed, gyms are more affordable, and personal training is usually within your means.

Personal training is one of the fastest growing occupations in the world. According to the US Labour Department the number of personal trainers grew by 44% between 2001 and 2011, where as the overall number of workers dropped by 1%. That statistic is being reflected here in Saigon where the gym scene is booming. Likewise, more and more freelance personal trainers are available for hire. So how does one decide what service best meet their needs?

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 are left in complete limbo. If you are thinking of seeking help with fitness and fat loss before the Christmas and New Year period, here is a brief set of guidelines on how to select a trainer.

A professional trainer first and foremost should be able to communicate to you the anatomical and physiological function and benefits of an exercise or movement. The industry is flooded with individuals who have completed one- to three-month personal training course and are then qualified personal trainers. They have completed the minimal theoretical requirements but have no practical knowledge or application. These people are fitness ‘motivators’… depending on your needs you may simply want motivation, direction and encouragement. But let’s face it, paying a lower hourly rate and not seeing results is much more expensive than paying more and obtaining amazing results in six weeks. If you want truly safe and life lasting benefits with the lowest risk of injury you need to be able to tell the motivator and professionals apart.

When considering employing an exercise professional here are the key aspects to consider:

What qualifications and certification do they have? A qualified personal trainer has an education in physiology, health promotion, athletic training, kinesiology or a similar field. Certification from a reputable organisation such as a Sports Science Degree, NASM, ACE, Charles Poliquin, CHEK practitioner or similar.

In today’s information-saturated world it’s harder 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 would get your money’s worth.

What is their work history? Have they honed their skills in a gym/clinical environment and developed practical experience and knowledge under supervision?

What assessments do they perform?

How do they keep records and track progress?

Can you look at some of their training programmes?

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; it’s about 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. However, if you are not seeing results within four weeks you need to ask some questions. Be a discerning customer and make sure you are getting what you paid for… good luck.

Phil Kelly is a health practitioner and expert in body transformation. His services are available at Star Fitness (