Fitlosophy Friday: The 2 Most Important Things to Look for When Hiring a Personal Trainer

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I’m sitting here in my hotel room in California, it’s about 6 a.m., semi here on business, as I’m attending a pretty big fitness event called Fitness Business Summit to learn new ideas and strategies to market and grow my business.

Getting here did not go without a hitch as I missed my connection in Newark, because Un-united Schmairways not only changed the gate, but changed the terminal, the departure time and closed the gate door on me as I was running frantically down the terminal with my backpack jumping around my back. I was ready to pull a Lloyd from Dumb and Dumber except flex my biceps and say “It’s OK, I’m a pilates instructor!” I figured it probably wasn’t worth it tick off TSA.

I noticed 2 other gentlemen from the plane siting next to me by our gate as we waiting for our next flight, and having bitched bonded already at the customer service coutner, we got to talking. Typical small stuff, where ya from, what ya do, where ya heading, etc etc.

I always love seeing the reactions I get from people when I say I’m a trainer. The most common one being , “How do I get rid of this?”, as they grab either their love handles or jiggle the backs of their arms.

We chatted a little about the econony, (they were finance guys) and the topic came up about what to look for in a personal trainer. One of the guys had mentioned wanting to hire trainer to help with his golf swing, and was curious about what to look for. He said he didn’t want to workout with an overweight trainer (a topic for another blog) and I gave him a run down of what to look for, education, certifications, personality. However, there were 2 things that I said really mattered the most. And they were:

1. That this person was highly recommended, meaning it was a referral from a friend, colleague or someone you trust, and someone with similar goals as you.

2. This trainer had proven results.

Now, there are a lot of other factors that matter, like education, experience, personalization, and professionalism to name a few. However, if I was in the market for a new trainer, or heck, to hire anyone for any reason, these are the 2 things that I would look for.

By getting a recommendation from a friend, you are already pre-qualifing the trainer. Meaning, if you have friend whom you trust, like and respect, and who had similar goals and aspirations as you, chances are, you are going to like similar things. You will probably like similar activities, similar movies, musics, food and your choice in who to work with in a professional setting will probably be pretty similar too.

Now, since you’re paying this trainer to help you reach a certain goal, results should be a make or break quality. If you are serious about looking better, feeling better or improving your performance, then results are paramount here. If you’re at the gym, spy on what the trainer is doing with other clients, see if you notice any changes over time, or, simply ask other clients whom work with this trainer to tell you a little about their experience.

A good trainer can get results. A great trainer can maintain results, but an extraordinary trainer creates results that speak for themselves. Coming from a trainer, these are the things that I would look for, and what I would tell a friend who was in the market.

However, I’m curious to hear from you. If you are currently working with a personal trainer, what things do you look for? Let me know in the comment section below.

4 Responses

  1. I’m a PT, and my experience is that people respond to your genuine enthusiasm and interest. It’s the old “they don’t care how much you know until they know how much you care.”

    I’ve had PTs in the past – I think trainers need trainers more than anyone – and I look for a long-term plan and engagement. What am I doing this thing for? What’s the purpose? If I do everything you say, where will I be in a month or two? If I email the trainer with questions, do they reply? If they say they’ll get me some information, or a workout or nutrition plan, do they do it? Etc.

    This is difficult to find. Most trainers are reasonably good at thrashing you in a session, but training you towards a goal, not so much. And they’re not very engaged, if you’re lucky they pay attention to you during a session, but outside it they don’t want to know you.

    1. Hi Kyle,

      Thank you for your comment. And I totally agree, its not so much what you know, but how you make people feel. This is why I didn’t list “education” on here because I’ve seen some amazing trainers who had no formal education in exercise or kinesiology.

      I also will add that it wasn’t until I started working with a trainer myself that I really started to “get it” and began to take myself more seriously as a professional.

      By the sounds of it, you must be a pretty good trainer yourself! 🙂


      1. If anything, the education seems to hold people back – they think they have nothing to learn. One trainer I’ve seen had a degree in exercise science, but literally couldn’t coach a pushup – great with rotator cuff exercises, though. But this person didn’t want to learn any more exercises from other trainers, and kept backing out of their gym shifts at the last moment, so could not learn from colleagues or from experience…

        I’ll leave it up to my clients to say if I’m good or not. But I will say that I do care, and I’m an engaged trainer.

        I don’t care about every person I meet in the gym, but that’s one advantage of being a PT, you get to pick who you work with, if you find you don’t like or care about them, you refer them to another trainer 😀

        1. I find that egos tend to get in the way a lot in the fitness industry, or I guess, for any industry for that matter. And I also find that this leads to a very dogmatic approach to exercise/health which you mentioned, prevents trainers from keeping an open mind.

          Well said 🙂

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