Finding the right personal trainer for You

People are creatures of habit.  When it comes to taking the plunge and beginning a fitness routine or joining a gym, you will likely find yourself starting out with exercises and equipment you are comfortable with or those exercises and pieces of fitness equipment which draw from your strengths.  Everyone has exercises and equipment that they are intimidated by.  Some folks have the tenacity to bite the bullet and tackle these things, where others don’t.  Regardless, a personal trainer will help you to identify whether you’re playing on your strengths and weaknesses properly.

A recent deal prompted me to join a gym.  3 sessions with a personal trainer were offered for a total sum of $8.  At worst, I expected to relive the horror.  At best, I expected to re-familiarize myself with long forgotten exercises and equipment to develop a series of workouts for the beginning stages of a renewed journey towards ultimate health and wellness.  Reliving the horror wasn’t an option.  Preparation is a key factor in finding the right personal trainer for YOU!

How to Prepare for a Consultation with a Personal Trainer

First and foremost, a physical and assessment of your overall health with your doctor should be performed.  During that time, tell your doctor your intentions and goals.  These intentions and goals, after receiving clearance from your doctor, should mirror what you tell your personal trainer, modifying as necessary based on the results of the visit to your doctor.  The results from your doctor may include limitations, recommendations as well as your target heart rate.

Once you’ve got all that down pat, your personal trainer should ask you a series of questions.  In essence, they should get to know you.  Not only should your health, fitness and weight loss goals (if applicable) be taken into account, but also your current lifestyle.  It should be a repeat event of your visit with your doctor. Otherwise, your doctor might not be right for you or you’ve got the wrong personal trainer.


Personal training is just that, personalized.  In addition to your goals and lifestyle, a personal trainer should also ask your strengths and weaknesses as it relates to fitness and overall health.  Honesty is the ONLY policy.  As creatures of habit, we gear towards what we know, like or find success in.  Your personal trainer should also know your weaknesses and fears.  Failure to fully disclose your weaknesses and fears is a disservice to yourself.  This includes your diet and/or nutrition profile.

Full disclosure will allow your personal trainer to find the proper course of action in regards to a fitness plan and possibly a nutrition plan that’s right for you. It is of utmost importance that you pipe up when something just doesn’t mesh, especially if you’re in pain.  Before you engage in a personal training program,whether it be just a consultation (or a few – RECOMMENDED), you should know your limits, but not be afraid to push yourself a little.

Having completed all the above steps, you’re now ready to move on to the first personal training session.

Before You Commit to a Personal Trainer

A single consultation, which includes a sort of interview process as well as the first workout or personal training session, is quite frankly, not enough.  Before you commit to a personal trainer, you should be allowed more than one session.

Essentially, one session with a personal trainer is like one date.  While it may only take one session or “date” to figure a personal trainer is NOT right for you, it should take more to truly get to know your personal trainer and decide if your personal trainer is right for you.

Negotiating more than one trial or consultation session is more easily attained by finding a personal trainer outside of a gym or an independently contracted personal trainer.

You may experience more tension in your muscles and joints the first few sessions, especially if you’re inactive or sedentary.  This is natural and will go away, but if you know your body and have communicated with your personal trainer before beginning, the tension is bearable.

A good personal trainer will not immediately decide the amount of a specific exercise you’ll be doing, but rather test you on a timed basis to see what you’re capable of.  Needless to say, they will be inclined to push you a bit more after establishing a baseline.

Questions to Ask a Personal Trainer

Before you commit to a personal trainer, you should not only be asked many questions, but you should also ask questions.  Similar to a courtship, you should know your personal trainer and whether your personal trainer’s ideals are in tune with yours.

  • EXPERIENCE: What qualifications does your personal trainer hold? Bear in mind that holding a certification does NOT mean they are the right fit FOR YOU! Real world experience working with people like you is the key.
  • VIEWSDo your views on nutrition, diet and fitness as well as health, wellness and lifestyle goals mesh? How does your personal trainer track progress and are these points in line with how you wish to track your health and fitness goals?
  • EXPECTATIONS: Is the commitment level of your personal trainer along the same lines in terms of days per week of exercise, nutrition, your fitness level and how far you wished to be “PUSHED”.
  • PERSONALITY: Does your personal trainer’s personality mesh with yours? Determining this aspect will depend on the amount of time you spend with your personal trainer.  More is better.  Finding a personal trainer who offers constructive criticism, feedback and motivation that you can handle is important.

Signing the Contract

If you’re able to find the RIGHT personal trainer for YOU, the benefits can be astounding.  The right personal trainer will challenge you to perform exercises and use equipment you might have been previously intimidated by.  If you are transparent in relaying your current M.O., including nutrition, diet, current activity levels, vices, strengths, weaknesses and fears, a personal trainer will then become far more personalized.  To benefit the most from a personal trainer, exercising full disclosure is key.

Should you decide to engage in personal training and sign a contract, consider the fact that YOU are paying for the service.  You get what you pay for.  In the terms of personal training, you get what you ask for.  Consider your “dream home”.  You’ve got a list of things you want.  Your health and body should receive the same or better, personal attention as your dream home.

Don’t let the personal trainer or gym representative SKIM over the contract details with you.  You should most definitely be allowed to take the paperwork home with you to review.  Read EVERY word.

The Benefits of a Personal Tainer

While your goals may be specific, such as weight loss, a personal trainer may help you to find workouts that focus on balance and your core areas or even your legs, which represent the largest muscle group in your body.  A personal trainer will help you to find the underlying areas of opportunity, which will help you meet your goals.  A personal trainer will challenge you, listen to you and understand you as a person.

The benefits of a personal trainer include learning proper technique and form, motivation, optimization of time, accountability as well as integrating variety, introducing exercises and equipment you may be intimidated by, but that may help you.  The benefits of a personal trainer are endless, provided your personal trainer actually listens to you and understands you.