How to Choose a Personal Trainer

People choose to work out with a personal trainer for all sorts of reasons: maybe they struggle to motivate themselves, or are bored with their existing routines and need some help to switch things up a little. They could be experienced exercisers who feel that their fitness levels have reached a plateau, or new to exercise and not confident that they’ll be able to get the best out of their work-out on their own.

Whatever the reason, if you’ve decided to take the plunge and get a personal trainer, finding the right one can be a daunting experience.  Here are some tips that may help you.

Firstly, spend some time mulling over what sort of personal trainer you’d like. Would you prefer a male or female PT? What will motivate you - someone who’ll bark at you military-style, or someone who’ll adopt a softly-softly approach? How often do you want to train, and at what time of day? Very importantly – what do you want to achieve? If you’re armed with this information, it will make it easier to find the right PT.

Building your Shortlist

Always contact a range of potential personal trainers first – ideally, ask for recommendations from friends and co-workers.  You should start with a list of at least three. That way, you can benchmark them against one another and find out how their experience, approaches and fees differ.  Contact them via phone initially. Cover the basics off first: Can they train you at a time and place that suits you? Can you afford their fees? Do you like the sound of them? If the answer’s yes and you decide to meet in person, always choose a public area where there will be other people around.

Trust your gut instinct. It’s important that you have a good relationship with your PT, and if you don’t ‘take to’ them immediately, carry on looking. You’ll be spending a decent amount of time with this individual and entrusting them with your fitness and body goals, so it’s important that you are on the same wavelength and that you can enjoy your time with them. Your sessions probably won’t come cheap, so you should look forward to them, not dread them.  A good PT should be friendly, professional and helpful as a matter of course. If you happen to think you’ll also enjoy their company, so much the better.  


Ask lots of questions. You need to come away with a good understanding of what their approach is, what particular training they’d recommend for you based on your objectives, how they’d keep you motivated, how they’d measure results and details of past experience. If they don’t ask you just as many questions in return (about what you’re trying to achieve, what makes you tick when it comes to exercise, any past injuries etc) then alarm bells should be ringing. The key to any good PT / client relationship is communication and mutual understanding of what you’re trying to achieve.  

Checking References

Chat with other clients. This is a great way to get a feel for what the PT is really like, and see the results they’ve achieved. If the PT is reluctant to put you in touch with clients, be wary. If they don’t have any long-term clients, ditto - if they’re unable to hold on to a client for longer than a couple of sessions, it’s not a good sign.

Ask to see their qualifications. Don’t feel that this is a ‘pushy’ or demanding thing to ask - you’re entrusting this person with your fitness, after all. Depending on what country you live in, there is any number of qualifications that they could hold. Ask to see the certificate and then Google the awarding body to ensure that it’s a commonly recognized qualification.  

If you’re satisfied with all of the above, congratulations, it seems like you’ve found ‘the one’! Happy training!

Sinead Miller writes articles on health and fitness and manages health insurance website Web Doctor.

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