What to Look for in a Personal Trainer

Find a personal trainer. Transform your physique. Oh, if only it were that easy. Here are 4 things to be mindful of when selecting a trainer.

Young Asia woman wearing active wear focused on fitness training with ropes at gym with trainer

Find a personal trainer. Hire them. Show up for your workout sessions … and live happily ever after (only, now, as a healthier, fitter version of yourself) 🎉

Sounds straightforward enough, right?

Well, guess what? Those rose-tinted glasses are coming right off the moment you try searching for “The One Personal Trainer” capable of helping you achieve your fitness goals.

From coaches who (hopefully unknowingly) teach you the wrong exercise form to those who stick you on a treadmill for the entirety of the session to ones who’re just a touch too “friendly” with you, the process can leave you feeling as though you’re navigating the troubled waters of online dating – instead of finding a suitable fitness professional.

Don’t worry. This article was written to help you find the right fit (for a personal trainer, not a significant other, sorry!)

Here are the top things you should look out for when selecting a personal trainer.

1: Credentials

Picking someone semi-famous on Instagram – or looks ripped – to coach you is a terrible idea.

Instead, you want to make sure that the person you hire is certified in their area of expertise (e.g., fat loss, muscle-building, postpartum) and qualified to train.

Don’t simply take the person’s word for it when they throw you a bunch of acronyms, too. Feel free to look up the accrediting organizations they quote.

Still, be mindful that the larger accrediting organizations out there, including The American Council on Exercise (ACE), the National Academy of Sports Medicine (NASM), and the National Strength and Conditioning Association (NSCA), are well-recognized for their quality of education.

This means there’s a higher chance you’d end up with a “better-quality” coach who holds these certifications than someone who doesn’t.

In addition to that, you should also make sure that your trainer has their CPR-AED certification. You know, to ensure your safety in any exercise program.

2: Experience

Certification is one thing.

As you're probably aware (perhaps through your own schooling experience), understanding theories is wildly different from actually knowing how to apply them in real life. The same goes for personal trainers.

Sure, they may be able to list the 3 key drivers of hypertrophy off the tops of their minds: 1) mechanical tension, 2) metabolic stress, and 3) muscle damage.

But when it comes to putting together a workout routine that’ll truly maximize a client’s muscle growth? Not so much.

Meaning? You shouldn't simply base your hiring decision on their certification status. Being certified is as good as a "minimum requirement" that a personal trainer needs to meet.

So, don't be afraid to ask for their track record as a coach.

How many people have they coached? And perhaps more importantly, how many people have successfully reached their fitness goals under their guidance?

These questions can be difficult – and awkward – to broach. Especially if it’s your first time interacting with a prospective personal trainer.

But remember this: they’ll be the ones structuring your training programs, providing in-session guidance, and doling out motivation when you run low.

You’re paying (good) money for this person’s expertise and attention; it’s not too much to ask to find someone who’s able to prove that they’ve helped other clients get results. Ultimately, that’s what you want too, right? Results.

3: Personality

Ah, personality. Less quantifiable, but no less critical.

If you're someone who appreciates banter and light-hearted jokes, you'd feel suffocated by a coach who's all business and believes in counting down your rest times by the seconds.

And if you're someone who goes out of your way to avoid exchanging pleasantries? Then a coach who’s constantly trying to make small talk – about the weather, your latest business trip, the new addition to their family – is going to drive you nuts.

So, here’s a suggestion: book a trial training session with the personal trainer you’re interested in hiring, get a sense of their working style, and see if it jives with you.

Much like first dates, this initial session also grants you the opportunity to suss out whether the personal trainer is a "walking red flag". Don't be afraid to ask questions. It's important to note how they respond.

Do they get impatient? Are they dismissive when you raise concerns?

Or do they patiently guide you through the session – and walk you through, step-by-step, what you could expect if you choose to work with them?

Naturally, you should always go for a personal trainer who does the latter.

One thing you should realize is that a personal trainer shouldn’t just “prescribe” you with a set training program that’s filled with “The Best Exercises”.

Every training plan should be individualized to your fitness capabilities, preferences, and goals.

That means the process should be a “two-way” street. Imagine the nightmare you’ll go through if you’ve made it crystal clear that you hate HIIT workouts, but your personal trainer insists that you do them all the time. It’s the worst.

4: Cost

Unless you're made of money, the cost can be a significant deciding factor when it comes to which personal trainer you eventually hire.

And let’s be honest. Personal trainers can get pretty expensive.

Assuming that each session sets you back by £60, you’d end up £240 "poorer" per month (assuming you're doing 4 sessions each month).

Obviously, the cost increases the more sessions you engage the personal trainer for monthly.

That said, while you may be tempted to hire the personal trainer offering the lowest rate … you shouldn't.

Cost isn’t the metric you should be looking at – but, instead, value. But wait. What does that even mean? It just means that you need to have a rough budget in mind (e.g., £70 per session) and look for a coach who ticks the most boxes on your requirements.

The point is that, unless you're willing to shell out serious money for a personal trainer, you're unlikely to find one who'll fit your personality perfectly, have an impressive track record, and knows all the right things to say to you when you run low on motivation.

But you need to find one who comes close given the money you’ve got. It’s kind of like dating, isn’t it (except, without the money part, of course)?

It’s a harrowing process

Truth be told, though, the entire process of finding a personal trainer can be laborious. There are so many factors to consider.

The chances are high that you'll have to, as the saying goes, "kiss many frogs" before you finally meet "The One" who's just right for you.

Worse still, some people may never encounter the right personal trainer for them despite the countless frogs they’ve kissed. What if there was a better way? A less hassle-free, more affordable, and equally effective way?

Spoiler alert: there is. And it’s called GymStreak.

This virtual, AI-powered personal trainer app will be there for you 24/7 (at home, at work, wherever you are), will never lose its temper with you, and, best of all, is proven to get results for people across the world. (Psst: it’s way cheaper than if you hired a personal trainer, too).

Interested? Be sure to check it out here.