How To Find The Right Personal Trainer To Reach Your Goals


For beginners who are just starting out on a fitness plan, hiring a certified personal trainer to assist you is definitely a great choice when it comes to learning the basics of working out and getting fit. Most novices know very little about designing a fitness plan that will help them achieve their overall goals and they usually don’t know how to exercise safely by following proper form and technique for all the different exercises and machines they will be using in the gym.

Finding the right personal trainer is crucial for helping you achieve long-term fitness results. I’m a Master Personal Trainer and have spent numerous hours watching other trainers work directly with their clients. During the last 7 years, I’ve only seen a handful of people who actually achieved real results working with a trainer. I’m not saying that all personal trainers are bad, but I am saying there are a lot more bad trainers than there are good ones!

My definition of a good personal trainer is someone who helps their clients achieve results. If you visit a “big box” gym, you need to realize that they pay their trainers around $8 to $10 per hour while charging the client $40 to $50 per hour via a contractual agreement that the client signs. If a client chooses to have a personal training session only once a week for 1 hour sessions, they will be spending about $2,500 per year. That’s right, the gym is raking in much more money selling training packages to their members versus the basic monthly membership fees.

You need to be aware of certain things when selecting your trainer or signing any type of contractual agreement with a gym. Remember that once you sign on the dotted line, you are stuck and you will be spending a considerable amount of money whether or not the personal trainer you chose can actually help you reach your fitness goals. With this kind of financial investment, along with the time you’re putting in each week, choosing the best person for the job is very important in order for you to see results.

Common Flaws That 80% of Personal Trainers Make:

  • They use the one-size-fits-all workout model. This is terrible since every person has different goals and different levels of fitness.
  • They make their clients perform exercises that provide little value.
  • The trainer is out of shape! If your personal trainer can’t take care of themselves then how will they take care of you? If a trainer can talk the talk, they need to walk the walk!
  • I see beginners who try to perform exercises that they are clearly not ready to take on.
  • Most trainers rarely talk about nutrition with their clients or establish accountability with their workouts or diet.

Things To Look for When Choosing a Certified Personal Trainer:

  • First and foremost, never sign a contract without meeting and interviewing the trainer that will be working with you! The gym is more than happy throwing any trainer your way. Remember that 80% of personal trainers are not very good so take your time and interview them. You are paying good money for their services so make sure you get the right person for the job!
  • Do they look the part? If the trainer isn’t fit, how will they motivate and train you to get fit?
  • A competent trainer should be asking you all kinds of questions and should be goal oriented to help you succeed.
  • Always request to interview the personal trainer that the gym plans on assigning you before signing any contract. If they won’t allow this, it’s time to choose a different gym.
  • Make sure the trainer asks you questions to find out your current level of fitness and/or any physical limitations you might have. A trainer that doesn’t even ask you these questions will not be able to put together an effective workout plan to meet your needs.
  • Ask the trainer if they will be helping with your nutrition plan. Your diet is a key element to reaching your weight loss and fitness goals, so make sure they include this in the program.
  • Ask the trainer to show you a sample workout plan they created for another client so you can see the layout and how the trainer designs the routines.
  • Ask the trainer if they have any before and after pictures of clients they have worked with in the past.
  • Does the trainer have any references from past clients that you can call and speak with?

What The Right Personal Trainer Can Do For You:

  • Help develop your workout plan.
  • Give you pointers about your diet.
  • Keep you motivated and inspired.
  • Provide regular feedback about exercises and workouts.
  • Change your plan as your fitness levels improve.
  • Measure your results (weight, measurements, pictures).
  • Help you reach your fitness goals. Remember this is a two-way street. The trainer can’t workout for you or control what you eat, so you definitely need to put in a lot of effort also!

How To Find The Best Personal Trainer:

  • Look around the gym and see if there are people working with a trainer who appear to be getting results.
  • Make a mental note of the workouts you see the trainers conducting with their clients. I remember seeing a heavy-set woman going through a workout that was guided by the personal trainer. The trainer was having her perform heavy squats and other exercises that would make her legs and butt even bigger! Shortly after I noticed this, I spoke with the lady and found out that her goal was to lose weight and develop lean muscle. After giving her a few tips, she stopped working out with the trainer. Unfortunately, I’m sure she was on the hook financially for the remainder of the contract. The great news is that she was able to lose the weight and develop a stunning body that she was very happy with! I also see a lot of trainers doing workouts with middle-aged people that are unsafe and provide the client with very little value. I noticed a 60-year-old woman doing heavy squats on the Smith machine the very first day she was with her personal trainer. I noticed another trainer instructing a middle-aged woman, who had very poor fitness levels, using very advanced exercises to develop her core. These are great for more advanced clients, but horrible for middle-aged beginners who are just starting out and can be very dangerous.
  • Ask other people in the gym who are fit and in shape if they have any recommendations on personal trainers they have used in the past.
  • Most highly qualified trainers work independently because they can make a lot more money this way. Independent trainers are usually much more experienced. You can find these trainers on the Internet, but make sure to look at their reviews. Also, make sure to interview your perspective trainer and ask specific questions to make sure they are the right fit for you. Word of mouth referrals from other people are excellent when it comes to finding a quality personal trainer who will help you reach your goals.

Tips To Enhance Your Personal Training Sessions:

  • Do cardio and stretching on your own time (unless you need guidance). Focus your time on strength training workouts since this is the area where most people need the most help.
  • For the best results, make sure your workouts are broken down into separate muscle groups. For example, perform biceps and triceps on Monday, then do chest on Wednesday and legs on Friday.
  • Your trainer should be right by your side during each workout helping you with exercise technique and form. You might want to pay for a few extra sessions if you need more guidance.
  • Don’t let the trainer do a “shotgun” approach by training all of your muscle groups during a single workout. You want to separate each muscle group into a specific day during the week (follow a split routine).
  • Don’t be afraid to ask questions! The more fitness knowledge you can obtain, the better off you will be.
  • Just because you hire a trainer when first starting out, doesn’t mean you’ll always have to have one by your side. My goal as a Master Certified Trainer is to educate and help my clients reach their fitness goals. I teach them how to workout safely and become educated on health and fitness. My goal is to actually train them to become their own personal trainer. For many of my past clients, I change their fitness goals on a quarterly basis (or as needed) or I watch their workouts once a month to provide feedback and additional motivation.
  • Don’t be afraid to speak up and tell your trainer if your workout is too hard or too easy. They will be able to adjust your workouts accordingly.
  • If an exercise is painful to perform, don’t do it! Tell your trainer about the discomfort and move onto another one.
  • Once you reach your fitness goals, establish new ones. Don’t forget to celebrate your success also. You deserve it! Take a few photos of yourself to capture the moment and document your success!

As one of the top amateur bodybuilders in the country and a Master Certified Personal Trainer, I must say that I owe my success to the personal trainers who I invested in to teach me about nutrition and training to get results. I see a lot of people who think they know everything when their physiques say otherwise. Some are too cheap and kid themselves into thinking they can figure it out. Look around the gym the next time you’re working out. If getting fit was easy, then we wouldn’t have an epidemic with 71% of adults in the United States being overweight or obese! My recommendation to everyone is to invest in your own health. There is nothing more valuable than being healthy and looking your best!

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About Author

Timothy Roach

My name is Timothy Roach and I'm a Certified Master Trainer, Certified Personal Trainer and I'm certified in sports nutrition. I'm also an accomplished amateur bodybuilder and have competed in 16 bodybuilding competitions. See my profile page for more information!

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