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Wednesday, August 1, 2012

How to Choose a Personal Trainer


Does the free weight section of the gym make your heart pound just thinking about it? Are you new to working out all together? Never fear! There are certified, knowledgeable people that can help you. You just have to find the right one for YOU!

Finding a Personal Trainer that you click with is not an easy task! You will not only rely on this person to help you reach your goals, but to motivate you when you are at your lowest, to encourage with out discouraging and to celebrate your successes with. Don't just call a gym and sign up with the first person they offer - here are a few tips for making sure this relationship is beneficial for both parties involved.

1. Find a Gym - If you don't already have a gym, you definitely need to find one! If you do, you can skip this section. You will need to determine what type of gym you are interested in spending at least 5 hours of your week, each week in. There are a few types of gyms that offer personal training:
  • The Chain Gym (Bally's, LA Fitness, Gold's, etc) - These gyms are typically lower in price and have pools, aerobics classes, childcare and plenty of people for you to make friends with. 
  • The Athletic Club - These are typically full-service facilities. Want to be treated like a rock star? At these, you just might! They typically boast spas, cafes, and host a myriad of sports tournaments like tennis, swimming, racquetball and more. 
  • The Personal Training Gym - Do you have a gym that specializes only in personal training in your area? The trainers at these gyms tend to be more experienced as they have to have their own clientele to start training - they do not have a pool of interested clients waiting in line at the front desk. Beware: MOST personal training specific gyms require that an individual work out ONLY with their trainer during their time in the gym. You will likely need an additional gym membership if you are not working out with your trainer four to six times per week.
2. Observe the Trainers at Your Gym - Once you have picked a gym, observe the trainers. Do they pay attention to their clients? Does one trainer's style of coaching seem to be more motivating to you than others? Are they playing on their cell phone the entire session and leaving their client? Are they simply taking the client through exercises utilizing machines? Are the workouts something that you would be excited to try? Do they look different from client to client? Start to develop an opinion on the trainer that you think may work best with you - you are both their to get results for YOU! Remember that!

3. Schedule a Consultation - Now that you have a trainer in mind, schedule a consultation with one. Here, you will likely go through a "free" workout and discuss pricing options. Here are some questions and/or items to discuss with your potential trainer: 
  • Availability - What times can they make? Does that work with your schedule? What happens if you are late? What is their cancellation policy? Do they train more than one client at a time?
  • Goals - Have a specific weight loss target? An event that you want to be in prime shape for? Tell them! They MUST know prior to starting so they can structure your workouts to meet these goals. 
  • Medical Conditions - Do you have a medical condition that may impede your training? Back injury? Knee injury? Shortness of breath? You MUST disclose this information or you run the risk of further injuring yourself and putting your health at risk. If your trainer DOES NOT ask about this, RUN FAR, FAR AWAY!!
  • Workouts - If you enjoy a certain type of workout, ie. circuit training, tell them! Trust me, as a trainer, we would much rather take you through an exercise you enjoy vs. one that you can't wait to end. Be realistic about your current abilities. Know your comfort level with weights and cardio machines and don't be afraid to suggest that you need a lighter or even heavier weight. 
  • Pricing - This can definitely stun quite a few people! Gyms often take a hefty percentage of the monies made by personal trainers. Don't run as soon as you hear the price - really think about what is best for your life goals and your wallet. Do you need to cut back in another area of your life to afford the personal trainer? Check into packages - it's often much less expensive to purchase a larger amount of sessions. Your gym may also offer a payment plan. 
  • Group Training - All of this making your heart pound? No problem! Perhaps your trainer of choice is willing to train you and a friend - this is often cheaper and a buddy is a good support system. (Watch out though. this can also be a detriment to your workout at times.) The trainer may also host their own larger training classes at night or on a weekend - it can't hurt to ask!
Do you have a personal trainer? What advice would you give to someone looking to hire a trainer?



  1. I know how to workout and was looking to hire a trainer for the extra push they could give --you know, getting one more rep, going a little heavier, etc. Found a great one at my gym. We met for 2 consults and before we had our first session she told me she was leaving the gym to be a full time sahm. Learning her future plans should have been my first question!

    1. That stinks Stacy! I am so sorry! Hopefully you found an equally awesome trainer that is going to stick around.

  2. I used to work at a gym and I would be so surprised at the amount of people that requested a certain personal trainer because they saw her training a lot of people... One thing they didn't know is that she also always ran late, or never showed up. Ask the people that work there about their opinions on different trainers.

    Also, ask about specialties (weight loss, athletic training, etc)

    1. Great tips! I can't believe people actually conduct themselves in that manner.

  3. One thing I think is really super-important to mention is to find out if the trainer has a nationally recognized certification or at the very least ask if they have any formal education (college degree) in health and fitness! A certified personal trainer has demonstrated their knowledge and competency with prescribing exercises to their clients as well as performing health risk assessments. The top certifications to look for are ACSM (American College of Sports Medicine), NASM (National Academy of Sports Medicine, ACE (American Council on Exercise) and AFAA (Aerobics and Fitness Association of America). There are others, but these are the gold standard or require a practical exam as well as a written exam in order to pass. Trainers with any of these certifications plus that follow all the things mentioned in your post above, are worth paying for!

  4. My trainer tries to sell me every time we workout together. So annoying.. I am already paying the gym an arm and a leg..I need a new one thanks for the tips!

  5. A personal trainer may also educate their clients in many other aspects of wellness besides exercise, including general health. Qualified personal trainers recognize their own areas of expertise. Thanks
    Personal Training Perth

  6. This is a great article on finding a personal trainer! The other thing is to not be afraid to ask more about their backgrounds. How long have they been training? Also, don't be afraid to ask how much of their money goes to the gym.

    In some gyms, trainers will actually rent the gym, meaning that the gym isn't taking a large portion of it. Confident trainers will work in a gym like this rather than one that pays them. And with confidence comes experience.


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