How to Choose the Ideal Personal Trainer

trainer and client


Looking for a personal trainer to give you the one-on-one attention you need to reach your fitness goals? Good for you! A personal trainer can provide you with the extra motivation, professional guidance and training variety that you need to find success.

But you need to choose your trainer carefully, especially if you are after an online one. The internet is full of them but not all online trainers are equal. It takes more than a pair of bulging biceps and a six pack to do the job.

Here we outline three criteria to consider when choosing a personal trainer, along with seven key questions you need to ask any prospective trainer. These criteria apply to both online and in person trainers.

Initial Interview

You should expect the personal trainer to provide you with an initial consultation free of charge. During this session, he should discuss your goals, motivations and your fitness background.

The trainer should also ask you to complete a medical background questionnaire and then spell out in concrete terms what he can do for you and what it will cost you.

This is also a time for you to interview your prospective trainer. Here are 7 questions that you can throw their way…

Question #1. What does your workout involve and how often do you do it?

A good trainer will express passion when talking about his personal training program.

Question #2. What is your personal nutrition plan?

The trainer should provide specifics and his plan should involve a mix of all three macronutrients.

Question #3. Are you a smoker?

If he is, what are you doing there?

Question #4. How will you assess me before you create my program?

You should expect a biomechanical analysis along with a movement assessment.

Question #5. How often do you change a client’s program?

A good trainer will completely revamp a client’s program every 5-6 weeks to prevent boredom and keep challenging the body.

Question #6. What is your most recent qualification?

Good trainers stay on top of industry innovations by attending courses at least annually.

Question #7. How will you keep me motivated?

Expect the trainer to reel off specific techniques to keep you engaged and enthusiastic.


You should expect your personal trainer to not only be knowledgeable in such areas as anatomy, biomechanics and nutrition but also to be able to share that knowledge in a way that is easy to understand.

A qualified trainer should be able to tell you specifically why you are doing a certain exercise, explaining it from a biomechanical advantage point of view. If he can’t, he’s likely just giving you exercises for body parts based on gym lore – you deserve better than that.

The trainer should also be passionate about staying on top of the latest trends and breakthroughs in the fitness industry. He should also have a history of working with people who have the same training goals as you.

Finally, the trainer should have a working knowledge of fitness nutrition. With nutrition being so important to your goal attainment, he should be able to answer any questions you have about caloric intake, meal replacements and post workout food intake. Ideally, he should also provide you with meal plans and shopping list suggestions.


All service people need to be professional but this quality is especially important when it comes to personal trainers. After all, they are dealing with you at a very personal level and there may be times when you are emotionally vulnerable in their presence. Maintaining complete professionalism when a male trainer is discussing the bum (glutes) of his female client is essential.

Before you sign up for a session with a trainer at your gym, observe the trainers there in regard to professionalism. Check to see that the trainer is giving 100 percent focus to the client throughout the session. He shouldn’t be staring at his phone at any time during the session, or chatting with other trainers. His whole world during that session should revolve around the client.

Check that the trainer’s uniform is clean and that he is properly groomed and looks awake and alert. Consider, too, the physical condition of the trainer. While you shouldn’t be swayed by an overly conditioned or muscular trainer, neither should you expect that a clearly out of shape trainer will be able to get you into shape.

A professional personal trainer will be a balanced trainer. If you notice that he is working crazy hours, he is inevitably going to be too tired to give any of his clients the attention that they deserve. More than likely he’ll end up giving the majority of his clients cookie cutter workouts that he hasn’t taken the time to individualize.

Observe what the trainer is actually doing when the client is exercising. Is he merely a rep counter or is he giving constant guidance regarding proper form and encouraging the client to give their best effort?


You will be spending quite a lot of time with your personal trainer so it is important that the two of you get on together. Having a trainer that you like and respect makes your sessions together something to look forward to.

The style of the trainer needs to match your workout style. If you are a person who thrives on the ra-ra pep talk style of training encouragement, then a trainer who is quietly encouraging may not be the best fit. Then again, if you’re a bit of a lone wolf who prefers to have minimum distraction when he’s training, the quiet motivator will be more suited to you.

The trainer should have the ability to make you feel safe and comfortable, especially if working out is a new thing for you. They should have the ability to tap into your motivational well and draw the best performance out of you even when you feel like coasting.


When you sign on with a personal trainer, you are, in effect, handing him the keys to the most valuable thing you possess – your body. Taking the time to choose the right person for the job will make sure that they are up to the task!

About Theresa Duncan

Originally from Detroit, MI, Theresa has been offering health and fitness advice for the last 30 years while working as an engineer. She decided to turn her passion into a profession, and finds nothing more satisfying than helping others reach their health and fitness goals.

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