This post is by reader request! I recently had one of my inner circle gals reach out to me and ask what factors I would recommend someone look into when hiring a personal trainer. I thought this would make for a good blog post, so today I’m going to share my tips for knowing how to select the right person to help you achieve your desired fitness results. This person should help you set the right goals, keep you both comfortable AND challenged at the same time, and motivate you throughout your entire training experience.
Things to Look for When Hiring a Personal Trainer
I kind of hate putting this one first because the skills required to be a good trainer involve so much more than a piece of paper, but we’ll just get it out of the way. Ask your potential trainer what certifications they hold, and then look into whether the cert is from a reputable and recognized organization. Some of the common names you might hear are ACSM (the organization I’m certified by), NASM, ACE, and NSCA. In addition to the training cert, you could also ask if the trainer is certified in CPR and First Aid. Don’t be afraid to ask to see copies!
Inquire about previous training experience. Is the trainer able to provide testimonials from any current or past clients? What settings have they trained in before? Ask around at your gym, in the community, or maybe even do an online search to see if the trainer has a website or business page on Facebook. You’ll likely be able to get a good sense of not only their experience, but their reputation too. I actually have a whole testimonials page right on my site so potential clients can find it and see some of the specific ways that I’ve helped other people.
Sounds obvious, but make sure your trainer actually knows their stuff! A good trainer should absolutely have a basic understanding of human anatomy. They should be able to explain WHY they have you do certain exercises or what different variations of an exercise are for. Do they take their clients through an initial consult and assessment, or do they just throw them right into the weight room? Do they program for YOUR goals? It’s really important that your trainer understand appropriate progressions and can meet you where you are, no matter what level of fitness you’re starting from. If you watch your prospective trainer with other clients, do those clients use proper form and technique? If no, run away. I’m sorry, but the minute I see a trainer with a client who has really bad form (and the trainer’s not correcting it), they lose all credibility in my book.
It’s also essential that a trainer be able to admit that they actually don’t know the answers to some questions. The best trainers are those who know their stuff, but know that they don’t know EVERYTHING there is to know, and are comfortable saying that. These trainers go out of their way to continuously learn by attending workshops, networking, and reading articles, books, blogs, etc.
Find out if the trainer has any specific beliefs that your program will be based around. Do they focus on the number on the scale? Do they believe in cardio? Will your program utilize more free weights, machines, or a combination of both? To share a personal example, no pain no gain will NEVER be something I push on my clients, so someone looking for a hardcore trainer who will yell in their face probably wouldn’t want to hire me! I actually have a client who asked me when she first started training with me why I was so nice all the time. LOL! She explained that she grew up with more negative reinforcement as motivation at home and in sports, and I kindly replied that if she is looking for that in her trainer, we may want to re-evaluate and consider someone else who would be a better fit. Luckily, she stuck around and has since realized that a little self compassion can go a long way in her ability to progress!
Is the trainer personable? Do they smile and seem excited to be working with their clients, or do they seem bored as they just stand there and count reps? You want to make sure the trainer actually cares about the wants and needs of their clients… because that will be you! You will end up spending a LOT of time with your trainer, so you need to make sure their personality both meshes well with yours and motivates you. Find someone who coaches you, encourages you, and makes you feel good about yourself, not worse.
Other things that might come into play when making the decision about whether or not to work with someone:
- Location: Are you willing to drive 20 minutes to meet or will someone within walking distance keep you more motivated? Do you prefer a gym setting, outside, or home? Does the trainer have distance or online options?
- Availability: Are you looking for someone to train you in the evenings, but this trainer only has morning availability? Is the trainer booked solid without much wiggle room?
- Communication methods: How far in advance will you schedule sessions? Will you communicate via text or email? What’s the cancellation policy? Can you make up missed sessions?
- Cost: Your training obviously needs to be within your financial means, but I can’t stress enough that investing in training is making an investment in YOURSELF. Remember that you probably don’t want to go with the cheapest trainer in town. The value of what you get in return needs to be worth it!
Finally, you simply may want to ask or prospective trainer why they became a personal trainer. Why do they do what they do? Why do they keep showing up every day? You can find out a lot about a person with these questions, including whether someone is just in it for the side hobby or whether they are in it for their career. A trainer who fumbles over this question and can’t seem to answer it may not be your best bet; but any passionate trainer will simply light up and rattle off a zillion reasons. You’ll just know if he or she will be a good fit sometimes from this question alone. Trust your gut!
Let’s chat! Do you currently work with a trainer? Have you worked with a trainer in the past? What qualities made you choose your trainer in the first place? Do you look for any qualities or characteristics I didn’t mention? I would love to hear your experiences, both good and bad!
If you are considering hiring a personal trainer, I am currently opening up a limited number of slots for both my in person and distance training options. Please do not hesitate to reach out to me directly at firstname.lastname@example.org to chat about what might be the best fit for you. You can also subscribe to my weekly newsletter to stay up to date about my latest programs and news and receive my best content that’s nowhere else on the blog.