So you've decided that you need a personal fitness trainer, but where do you start? In any big city there will be many trainers to choose from, but identifying the good ones can be a challenge.

Finding a personal trainer

It's important to take your time to find the right trainer. Hiring a bad trainer could be worse than no trainer at all, particularly if s / he puts you off training. So, just as you would when hiring a trades-person to fix your roof or mend your drains, shop around to find someone who knows what they are talking about.

So … do not just plump for the personal trainers who have glitzy websites or celebrity endorsements, and certainly do not assume that the most expensive ones are the best!

If you can get a personal recommendation, this is a good starting point. However … do not simply assume that because your friend adores her trainer Joe Bigpecs, and sings his praises from the rooftops, that he will be right for you. Everyone has different needs when they embark on a training program, and trainers specialize in different areas. If you want to get your body back after having a baby, or you're recovering from a heart attack and need to take it slow, then a trainer who specializes in sports-specific training may not be right for you.

So – take all recommendations with a pinch of salt.

If you can not get a personal recommendation, try local forums such as the East Dulwich Forum in London or use Google Maps to find websites for personal trainers in your area.

The style of a trainer's website can tell you a lot about the style of the trainer – look for websites which show pictures of real people and real results – anyone can post a library pic of a big beefy body builder on their website, it does not ' t mean they get results!

Look out for testimonials from clients on trainers' websites. They are a great way to get a feel for what a trainer is really like. Even better, look on listing sites such as Qype.co.uk or Yell.co.uk. They contain independent reviews from clients, and bad reviews (as well as good) will be published.

Another place to look is your local gym. If you are not a member, see if you can get in for a trial session. Then ask around – but talk to the people training, not the staff. Most gyms offer personal training but this may not be the cheapest, or the best, available.

Choosing the right trainer

Once you've short-listed 2 or 3 personal trainers who look promising, arrange to meet them in person. You need a rapport with your trainer – it should be fairly obvious from the first meeting whether that is likely. Does s / he listen to your needs and come up with some ideas? Does s / he inspire you?

Check that the trainer has experience of any conditions or problems specific to you, eg diabetes, back problems, post-natal training. A few well chosen questions should reveal whether the trainer knows his / her stuff or is just making it up as he goes along.

Personal appearance is important, it may seem obvious but s / he needs to look fit and healthy – not all trainers practice what they preach! A good physique and a friendly smile really can tell you a lot. And check they have a good knowledge of diet and general health issues, not just workout programs and exercising.

Finally – go with your instinct, if you feel good about someone, chances are s / he is going to be right up your street.

More tips on choosing a trainer

I train clients all over London , at a training studio in Shoreditch , as well as in all the London parks. Get in touch to talk your requirements – trystan@bigt-fitness.com

Trystan Nicholls aka BigT-Fitness