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What to look for in a Personal Trainer

Updated: Mar 17, 2023

Chances are if you have opened this blog, you have at least some fringe interest in hiring some sort of coach or personal trainer to aid in a change you are wanting to make in regards to health and overall fitness.

First off, that is awesome. A huge part of beginning to make a change is becoming aware that you actually want to make that change and hiring a personal trainer is a great way to kick start that process and have someone guide you along the way, especially early on.

But trying to sell you on personal training is not the purpose of this blog.

Not at all

Many resources and posts out there provide a good chunk of info on the “why” behind the decision to hire a personal trainer/online coach. But it is hard to find the “what” behind that decision. As in “what” to actually look for when hiring someone to guide you towards your goals.

That is what this blog is going to cover: what to actually look for in a coach when hiring a coach.

It is a super important and often overlooked piece of the personal training/coaching experience that could make or break results both in the short and long term.

So with that in mind, let’s dive in and start breaking down what to look for in a coach/trainer.

1. Availability/Scheduling/Proximity

First and foremost who you are looking to hire needs to have availability and location that fits within the framework of your life. Quite frankly, the best trainer (or even gym) might be the one you can get to the easiest, especially if you have a busy schedule. If you have to go out of your way to accommodate coaching hours or a location, it will create an extra barrier to overcome in creating consistency. Being consistent is the number one thing you can do for success.

That is where online coaches could be a great option if you find someone great who is not close to you. You get the coaching experience without having to go out of your way to that trainers specific gym.

So ask yourself: does this trainer’s schedule/location make it easy to find times and show up even in my busiest week?

2. Track Record of Success:

Make sure that the trainer has a track record of creating change and hitting goals with others in a situation similar to yours. You want a trainer who understands where you are coming from, helping you hit your goals around your life demands.

This is when asking around with those in your circle helps. See if anyone you know in a similar situation can recommend a trainer they have had success with.

Alternatively or in conjunction with that, you can always ask a trainer to show their successes with clients, walking you through how they achieved that success.

3. Personality and Communication Style:

Personal training involves a lot of one-on-one interaction, so it's important to choose someone with whom you feel comfortable with and whose communication and teaching style matches your own.

If you feel like you may not be supported by this person both in and out of the gym, it might make following the plan that much tougher (out of fear of judgment when things do not go as planned).

So ask yourself: Would I feel supported by this person? Would I be excited to spend 2+ hours a week with this person? If the answer is no, you may want to look elsewhere.

4. Specializations and Education:

If you have specific needs or goals, such as injury recovery or sports performance, look for a personal trainer who specializes in those areas. A specialized trainer may have additional certifications or training that make them better equipped to work with your specific needs.

Not all trainers are educated the same. Make sure your trainer/coach is well equipped and educated in handling anything and everything you wished to be helped with.

5. No ego and high integrity:

Coaches and trainers are human too. They might not know everything there is to know. A good trainer/coach has the ability to say “I do not know” (but will look up an answer or do a bit of research) or refer out if the issue you present is above their scope of practice.

Also, a good coach should not be afraid of being honest. They should push you to be your best self, pointing out when things might be faltering a bit (but offering solutions). They should also be realistic with a goal timeline. Change takes time, they should be upfront about that.

At the end of the day, integrity of a trainer/coach is everything, especially when you are investing hard earned money with them to help you out.

As you can see, hiring a personal trainer can be (and probably should be) a bit more involved than just picking the trainer with the next available slot.

Do not be afraid to shop around a bit. Take advantage of free or reduced priced sessions offered by trainers/coaches in your area or book a call with an online coach to talk. You will start to get a better feel for if you and that person would be a good fit or not. And if you do hire someone but you are not feeling like it is working, have an honest chat with your trainer. See what some concrete steps would be to address any issues you have or where they might be able to refer you out to for further help.

In sum, do your research. It is your body and money on the line. It is okay to be selfish and shop around a bit.

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