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How To Find The Right Personal Trainer


calendar-iconDecember 16, 2020


Creating and executing a fitness plan with no guidance is a huge challenge many people face when they are new to weight training.

You may have considered getting a personal trainer, or have seen others working with one at your local gym. You’ve probably wondered how much your technique and strength could improve, and how much faster you would reach your fitness goals if you had someone to guide you through your journey. 

This article is here to help you find the right personal trainer for you. We will go over whether you are someone who needs a personal trainer, what you’ll need to prepare if you want to begin your search for a trainer, and what to look for when you’re on the search. 

We’ll break each part down for you and allow you to better understand how to make the best choice for yourself. By the end of this article, you will be fully prepared to go out and get yourself the right trainer who can guide you on your fitness journey.

Should You Hire a Personal Trainer?

Before diving into what to look for in a personal trainer, you should first decide whether you even need one! Here are some great reasons why a personal trainer may be a great idea for you:

You aren’t getting your desired results

You may be getting to the gym consistently, and working yourself to the bone, but you still feel like you haven’t gotten those boulder shoulders or six pack abs you’re looking for. A personal trainer might just be the help you need to figure out why your hard work and dedication isn’t translating to results!

You’re feeling overwhelmed by options

When it comes to getting fit, there is no shortage of ways to get the job done. There is also a ridiculous amount of information out there, and it can be tough to know what to apply to your situation if you’re just a beginner. A personal trainer can help direct you to the information that is going to best translate to you and your goals.

You’re bored with your current routine

You might also feel discouraged if it seems like you don’t have enough options to work with. You know one way to reach your fitness goals, but you’ve been stuck in that way for too long and your workouts are getting stale. A personal trainer can help keep your regimen fresh and exciting so you’re ready to burst through the gym door. 

You feel no sense of accountability

One of the toughest things to bring to your workout regimen is consistent motivation- even the most avid gym addicts can’t always be amped to go to the gym and break a sweat. For those days where you feel like the couch might be the better option, a personal trainer can give you that extra kick in the pants that you need to stay consistent and on the path to your goals.

Know your Goals

So you’ve decided that you need a personal trainer? Before beginning your search, it’s important to figure out what exactly your goals are.

Starting any sort of workout plan with a trainer wastes time and money if you have no end goal in mind. What’s the point of hiring a trainer if you don’t know what you want?

A great first step can be to take some time to write down what you hope to achieve through your training. Putting your goals on paper can help you figure out what exactly it is you want, and help you to express those goals in a concise manner to any potential trainers. This will be crucial as you establish a good sense of communication between the two of you.

Reflect on what you hope to look or feel like by the end of this journey, write it down, and present it to any trainers you meet with. You will find that this will aid you in finding the best person to help you reach your goals.

Even if you don’t know what your answer is 100%, some initial thoughts and direction will be extremely helpful to a personal trainer. Good trainers can often help you refine these goals as they help you translate them to a training plan!

Match Your Goals to Trainer

With an image of your goal in mind, you then want to try to match this goal to a trainer. The type of trainer you hire to guide you will definitely depend based on what your desired results are. If you are primarily looking for a way to improve the execution of your exercises, then a fitness instructor may better suit you. If you want to transform your body as well, you should look for a trainer that can assist with both training as well as nutrition. If you’re looking to adjust your lifestyle to support different fitness goals, someone with experience with adjusting behavior and habits would be a great option. 

Remember that there aren’t just personal trainers that do one-on-one coaching; there are also people who teach group classes. These could be Zumba classes, spin classes, yoga classes, or a variety of other exercises. Although you may not get much individualized attention in a large group, you will be able to observe others in the class, and improve your technique by watching those with more experience. Group classes can be good for people who cannot afford a personal trainer over the long-term, or are shy and not comfortable yet working individually with a trainer.

All in all, you want to match your goals to a trainer or training environment that is best fit to help you achieve those specific goals.

Keep an Eye out for Specialty trainers

Ever heard the saying, "Jack of all trades, master of none?" Well, if you're looking for something specific — say, hitting a new 5k PR — you'll want to work with a trainer who specializes in running over, say, Olympic weightlifting. Not only will they have more expertise in your desired area, but chances are she'll be more passionate about it if she knows the nuances of the sport and has a vested interest in it as well.

Check for Credentials

While matching your goals to a trainer, you also want to make sure they have some sort of personal training certification.

You wouldn’t hire just anyone to do remodeling work on your house, right? A fitness trainer is not different.

Isadora Baum of Men’s Health says, “So how do you know you’re in good hands? You’ll want to be sure your trainer attended an organization that is accredited by the National Commission for Certifying Agencies (NCCA), which is nationally recognized as being a reliable predictor of sports medicine and exercise knowledge”. 

To make it simple for you, here are five of the most popular certifications that are generally trustworthy:

All of the ones listed above are legitimate and trusted institutions when it comes to a personal training certification. There are plenty of other certifications out there, and many of them may also be trustworthy, but you’ll want to do your homework and see what they involve before hiring a personal trainer with that certification.

Check out their former Clients 

If you still aren’t sure if you’ve found the right personal trainer, check out their past clients! You want a trainer with plenty of experience, as well as one that has helped other people get the results you are looking for. The more happy clients a trainer has, the better the chances that they’ll be able to deliver the same results to you!

Make Sure They Fit Your Lifestyle

Once you’ve found a trainer who matches your goals and that you can trust, you want to make sure they’re going to be a right fit for your lifestyle. There are a number of things to consider here:


You want to make sure your trainer is in the right price range for you! The price of a trainer can vary based on experience, location, and how much time you’re asking for. According to Nerd Fitness ,the average North American trainer charges $55 for an hour session. 


You also want to make sure a trainer can fit your schedule! Someone who checks all the right boxes but is only available 5am every other Tuesday may not be the right fit for you.


You want to make sure meeting with your trainer is as convenient as possible (achieving fitness goals is hard enough already), so keep an eye on where you are going to meet your trainer. You don’t want to put yourself in a situation where you have to drive across town to see a trainer, as a tough commute can be a real motivation killer.  


Getting along with your personal trainer is also critically important! The relationship between you and your trainer needs to be healthy and collaborative, and personality is a huge part of that. More than anything, you want your trainer to be great with communication. As long as you are able to communicate with your trainer, and they are attentive as well as willing to adjust to your feedback, you should be able to overcome just about any fitness obstacle.

Flexibility is also key when it comes to a quality personal trainer. Jeff Cavaliere from Athlean X says that “the highlight of a good trainer is someone that goes into the gym with a plan for the day but is willing and able to vary that plan depending upon what they are getting from their client on a given day”. If you aren’t feeling well on a workout day, then your trainer should understand and respect that, and always be accommodating to your specific needs. Likewise, if you feel really good and energized, and want to work harder than usual, then you definitely want a trainer who is happy to help you safely push to new limits.

Training Philosophy

Something to ask a potential personal trainer might be what they’re philosophy is behind training. How do they view ideal fitness? What is most important to them as they step through the gym door? What makes them passionate about fitness?

While these are more subtle and abstract ideas, they are just as important as the more concrete variables when choosing a trainer.

Style of Encouragement

The type of reinforcement is also a huge factor in trainer compatibility. Someone who grew up playing football may respond well to a trainer who uses more forceful and negative reinforcement, while someone who is totally new and intimidated by exercise may need some more a positive, gentle style.

Don’t be Afraid to Ask Questions 

If you aren’t sure about something regarding a trainers regimen or program, you need to be comfortable asking them questions! A great personal trainer is happy to answer any questions you might have.

So what should you ask? Mike Matthews says that there are five main questions that you should ask any potential candidate before hiring them. They are:

  1. How quickly will I see results?
  2. What would my diet look like?
  3. What kind of cardio will I do?
  4. What would my workouts look like?
  5. What sort of supplements would I be taking?

Matthews argues that if a trainer can’t provide concrete, realistic answers to all of these questions, then they may not be right for you.

Try it out

If you go through all of these points and still are left unsure, it may be best to just give it a shot! Many trainers offer test sessions or complimentary sessions to help give you a sense if it’s a good fit. Try out a training session or a few sessions and ask yourself:

  • Was it fun?
  • Was it challenging?
  • Are you seeing progress?

Even after you sign up, you always have the option of going to another trainer- it’s not a binding contract! You should always be evaluating your relationship with your personal trainer and make sure it's the right fit for you.

Consider an Online Personal Trainer

In the digital age, you also have to decide whether to get an in person or online trainer. 

Getting an online personal trainer instead of an in-person one could be the smarter choice for some individuals. 

To keep it simple, we’ll break down the pros and cons of an online personal trainer:


  • Flexibility: With an online personal trainer, setting up a time and place to meet can be much simpler. 
  • Easy access: Reaching out to your personal trainer can be done just about anywhere that has internet access or even just a phone signal.
  • Cheaper: In general, meeting a trainer online is more cost effective than paying per session at the gym. Online personal trainers can be in touch with multiple clients at any time, so they don’t have to charge a premium for 1 on 1 time.


  • Motivation: There is no replacement having someone right there to fire you up for that last set. You have to find all of that motivation yourself when you’re putting in the work.
  • Feedback: Unless you are on a live call or take the time to send your online trainer a video, they can’t give you feedback on your form, while an in person trainer can coach you in real time.
  • Accountability: If an online trainer isn’t meeting you live, it can be a lot easier to skip a workout or two.

All in all, the pros and cons of having an online trainer are something to consider when making your choice of what is best for you.


Finding the right trainer to guide you through your fitness journey and help you get stronger may seem like a complicated task. At the end of the day, though, there are just a few things to watch out for when on the trainer market: 

  • Know your Goals
    • You can hire the best personal trainer in the world, but it won’t mean much at all if you don’t know what you want to get out of your workouts. That is why you should always have a clear, concrete set of goals that you hope to achieve. 
  • Match your goals to a trainer
    • With your goals in mind, match them to a trainer who has worked in those areas of focus. If you can find a specialized trainer, even better!
  • Make sure they’re certified
    • Making sure your trainer has proper certification is an important for making sure you’re in the right hands
  • Check out their history
    • Check out your trainers past clients! Are they happy? Did they get the results you’re looking for?
  • Evaluate the fit
    • Make sure the trainer’s price, availability, location, personality, training philosophy, and style of encouragement is a good match for you.
  • Ask Questions
    • Don’t be afraid to ask a trainer about anything you aren’t sure about when it comes to hiring them! They should be open and honest.
  • Try it out
    • If everything seems up to task and you still aren’t quite sure, inquire about some initial test training sessions!
  • Online personal training
    • Online coaches may be a great option for some people , and come with it’s own pros and cons. Overall, if they’re a better fit for your lifestyle, they’re a better fit period! 

With this in mind, you should have everything you need to find the best trainer for you. For more informative articles on various fitness topics, be sure to check out, and see how you can take your training to the next level.


Date Created: December 16, 2020

Last Updated: November 11, 2021

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