12th April 2022

What Should You Look for and Avoid in a Personal Trainer?

Many people who desire to become more fit choose to use a personal trainer. Who would be better when you want to feel and look better, reach fitness goals and find the right exercises to reach those goals? No one’s better than a personal trainer.

But how do you go about finding the right personal trainer? Is there a way to ensure they have the knowledge and expertise to help you? Will this person inspire or hinder me on my fitness journey? These are only a few of the questions you may ask in the search for the right personal trainer.

We’ve put together some tips you can use to find the right personal trainer to reach your fitness goals. You’ll also find information on what to avoid when choosing a personal trainer!


1. Look for Certifications; Don’t Rely on Social Media

We live in the age of social media. It’s a time when anyone can claim to be an expert on just about anything. It’s possible for these individuals to promote themselves on social media to gain followers and clients without providing proof they’re certified for the work.

So, the first step is to check to see if the trainer is certified and qualified to train. Any reputable personal trainer needs to have the education and experience to back their claims. Personal trainers may have studied athletic training or exercise science in university. They may have also received certification through NASM, ACE, and ACSM (these are the most common certifications). With the right education and certifications, a personal trainer has a method to their workout plans, has a beneficial coaching style, and understands how to keep their clients safe.

Another certification that many don’t think about is CPR-AED. A personal trainer should also have this certification in case you have a problem while exercising.

Trainers of this calibre may not have several thousand Instagram followers. It also doesn’t mean the personal trainer looks unusually fit. So, avoid relying on social media only to find a certified, knowledgeable personal trainer.


2. Clear Expectations & You’re Both on the Same Page

What do we mean by clear expectations and being on the same page? It’s imperative to know what your goals are before you talk with a personal trainer. If you’re not entirely sure of your own fitness goals, how can a personal trainer be effective? The answer is they can’t!

So, it may help to sit down and write out what you hope to achieve through a fitness program. Take the time to hammer it out until the goals are clear to you.

Once your fitness goals are crystal clear, you’re ready to share these with a personal trainer. Only then can they be your accountability partner and help you find the right exercises and routine to achieve your goals.

It can also help if you ask the personal trainer if it’s OK to contact them in between sessions. That way, if you have questions about working out properly at home or other aspects of your fitness routine, they may be able to offer insights and guidance to keep you on the right track.


3. Start with One Session

Rather than booking several sessions with a new trainer, start off with one session. The goal is to see if you are both compatible with one another. If your personalities mesh and you work well together, then it may be worth booking another session.

You might want to consider doing two for three sessions with the trainer before committing to a full package of sessions. It may be that your trainer likes to push things hard, while you like to go a little easier. That’s OK! Everyone has a different mindset and method.

The key is to find a personal trainer who fits in well with how you like to learn and work out.


4. Make Checklists of Positive Points

After each session, it can help to make a checklist of positive points. Ask yourself these questions to spot the positives:

  • Did the trainer remember what you did last week? Did they recall how you don’t like to do tricep dips because of your hurt wrist?
  • Do you look forward to seeing them or dread it?
  • Did they push you hard enough? Did they push you too hard?
  • Were you at least a little sore?
  • Did they ask about your goals?
  • Did the trainer combine muscle, cardio, and flexibility into your workout?
  • Did the trainer get on the floor with you or stand above? (Trainers should get down to the level of their clients, to better see the moves).
  • Did the personal trainer correct your form?
  • Was the workout fun?

If you and your trainer work well together, then most of the answers to these questions should be “yes.”


5. Watch for These Red Flags

Here’s a list of red flags to watch out for—these are behaviours that can indicate the trainer is not right for you:

  • They listen or seem to care when you experience pain or discomfort.
  • They can’t (or won’t) explain how their workouts help reach your goals.
  • They lean on body-shaming to motivate.
  • The trainer uses the same workout format, number of reps/sets, or the same exercises for every session.
  • They spend more of the session looking at themselves in the mirror rather than coaching you.
  • The trainer doesn’t ask how you’re feeling, check in with you, or coach you through exercises.


6. There’s a Difference Between Pain and Feeling the Burn

A personal trainer needs to be sensitive to your body’s limitations. There’s an old saying that says, “No pain, no gain.” That is true to some extent. However, there’s a vast difference between experiencing pain or feeling the burn.

Understanding the difference between pain and soreness is something a personal trainer should understand. They need to listen to you when you say the pain is beyond feeling the burn. Trainers that make you push through the pain could cause injuries to your body.

So, avoid personal trainers who believe that pushing through is the only way to go.


7. The Trainer is Constantly on Their Phone or Tuned Out

Another sign of an inept personal trainer is they seem tuned out or are constantly on their phone rather than working with you. If this happens to you, end the session immediately and dump the trainer.

Not only is this rude, but acting in this way is also unprofessional. Their job is to pay attention to you and work with you to achieve your fitness goals. Not be on the phone texting or playing games.

Summing it Up

Use these tips to help find the right personal trainer for you. They should be focused on helping you achieve your fitness goals without “working through the pain,” texting constantly, and more.

The key is to find a personal trainer whose personality fits well with yours and who has the certifications and training to ensure you have a safe, effective workout every time!