Choosing a Personal Trainer

Published on Author GG RayLeave a comment


There are many types of people who can benefit from a personal trainer. Once a perk of only the rich and famous, the personal training industry has enjoyed a boom in the past 20 years, making it accessible to almost anyone who needs some guidance in their exercise regimen.

The market is currently saturated with many personal trainers using various styles and specializing in different areas. As with any booming industry however, it carries along with it the dregs of the industry: those looking to make a buck without having the qualifications to help you or keep you safe and successful. This is a guide to choosing who is right for you.

The Basics

When looking for a personal trainer, there are several resources you can access. If you belong to a gym already, it should have a selection of personal trainers on staff. Talk to staff and other gym members to get a recommendation about who is good, and who specializes in what. One of your considerations will be cost, so ask for a list of rates from your gym when you start your research. Check to see if the trainers offer small group sessions as well, to offset the cost while you try one or two of them out.

If you do not belong to a gym, you will want to look for a personal trainer who can come to your home or has an office or facilities in which to train you. This might be a little more expensive for the personal attention and for the use of their equipment. There are also several online databases in which you can locate a list of personal trainers who work in your area.

There are three very basic things that you want to find out when you start shopping for a personal trainer. The first is education and certification. Many trainers will have a bachelor or masters degree or else they will have certification from a training facility. If you have not heard of the school or organization that certified them, do some research to make sure that they are an accredited educational facility. Also, make sure that their certification and training is up-to-date.

The second thing they should have is basic first aid and CPR training. Their education should have involved some level of study of anatomy and physiology, and they should have a basic knowledge of care in case of injury.

Lastly, they should have liability insurance that is current. If they are staff at a gym, check the gym’s insurance policy and how it affects personal training sessions.


Once you have established that the personal trainer you are interested in is educated, insured and certified, find out about his or her experience in the field. Ask for references from past and current clients. This will give you an idea of how they work, and how successful they are in getting results. You will hopefully get an idea of their strengths and weaknesses from clients. Remember, though, that like any potential employee, they are only going to give you the names of clients who they are fairly certain have a good opinion of them.

When you sit down with the trainer, ask them what types of fitness they specialize in and what personal philosophy guides their work. You will want someone who has knowledge of a variety of ways to bring fitness into your life so that you will not get bored with a routine and lose interest. A personal trainer needs to have a well rounded background in order to bring more creativity and less routine into your fitness life.

In personality, you are looking for a person who is a good listener, who you feel will take your concerns and goals into account when they develop a program for you. You are looking for someone you feel comfortable with and can trust, so if they do not elicit those feelings immediately, maybe keep looking until you find someone who does.

They should be firm and focussed, but also positive and energizing people. These people are not only going to provide you with safe and varied workout techniques, they are going to keep your interest level in your health high so that you have the motivation to follow through with your goals.

When you initially meet with a personal trainer, they will ask you for a medical background and health check so that they are immediately aware of any health concerns that they need to take into account. They will assess your current fitness level so that they know where to start you and what types of short and long term goals are realistic. A good personal trainer knows that success in reaching goals is the primary motivator in sticking with a program, so they should set up a program that works toward attaining goals and also that tracks your progress along the way.

Bad Trainer Warning Signs

When you are setting yourself up with a new trainer, there a few warning signs that you can watch for in detecting whether or not you have pulled a dud. One thing that should be clear from the get-go is the cost of the trainer per session, and his or her cancellation policy should you decide you do not want to continue. Most trainers will have rates by the hour, and offer everything from a one-time or short term consultation to get you on the right track to a long term arrangement. If the trainer is not clear about his or her cancellation policy or rate schedule, be wary.

Other red flags include:

  • A trainer who does not listen to your concerns or input about where your fitness program is going.
  • A trainer that gets you into a workout during your first session. The first session should consist of assessing your current fitness level and health status, and setting goals to fit your desired outcomes. The trainer should ask you about how fitness fits into your lifestyle currently, and how you see it in the future.
  • A trainer who overworks you to the point of pain (whether it be injury or crippling stiffness) is not concerned for your health and not properly trained.
  • A trainer who pushes supplement or vitamins on you is suspect.
  • A trainer who is not available to you to answer questions and fit into your schedule is useless.
  • A trainer who thinks that their way is the only “proper” way to achieve your fitness goals will have a narrow concept of fitness that you will have to try and fit into, instead of them shaping a program to suit you.
  • If the trainer is not up-to-date and knowledgeable about current trends and techniques, then he or she is clearly not current in their training.

Obviously, a trainer who does not have the proper insurance or credentials should not even be considered for the job. There are too many highly qualified trainers on the market to waste your time and money, and to possibly put your health in jeopardy with some under-qualified chump. With so many fitness options on the market these days, it can pay to hire a qualified guide to avoid wasting your precious time and to help you achieve both specific and broad health goals.

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