5 Tips on how to choose an excellent personal trainer and avoid a bad one
Congratulations on making the decision to invest in yourself and your health by hiring a personal trainer.
Hiring a personal trainer has many benefits such as increased
motivation, accountability, avoiding injuries and achieving your results faster
than you would on your own.
This is, of course, provided you choose a personal trainer that is great.
Because there is nothing worse than investing hundreds or thousands of dollars and not only not seeing results, but getting actually worse, feeling more frustrated or even getting injured.
I’ve been working as a personal trainer in Vancouver for the last 10 years, and I have experienced working with some amazing and some not so great coaches over the years.
So how do you choose a great personal trainer among so many? (over 82 million results for personal trainer Vancouver Google search)
5 things to considering choosing your ideal personal trainer:
1) Skills and experience
One of the most important aspects of choosing a personal trainer is his/her skills.
A skilled personal trainer is much more than a person who “kicks your butt” at the gym. He or she is more of a therapist, counsellor, with an understanding of nutrition and physiology.
This is even more important if you have a particular fitness goal.
If you want to lose 10 lb, get stronger and fitter you probably want a
personal trainer who is skilled in creating a training program that will get
you stronger but also understand some basics about nutrition. The majority of
your success in the fat loss area would be based on your diet.
On the other hand, if you want to qualify for the Boston marathon, you
will probably want to a fitness coach with experience in distance running and
programming for endurance events.
Remember, every trainer can make you tired. However, the great one can make you stronger and healthier as the weeks and months progress.
Because personal training is an unregulated industry, almost anyone can call himself/herself a personal trainer. You can get online certification in a couple of weeks or you can spend 4 or more years at university.
There are many certifications out there; however, in the end, it’s not about the certification but about skills, experience and genuine care about clients.
A lot of learning happens on “the gym floor”. The more experience a
personal trainer has working with clients face to face, the more he/she can
That is provided the personal trainer actually pursues continuing
education and continuously improving his/her skills to have more “tools in a
toolbox” to solve the client’s challenge.
2) Training philosophy/system
There are many different training and nutrition systems/guidelines. Many deliver excellent results. The trick is to match a training/nutrition approach that works well for YOU and to make sure there is actually a system.
For example, if you don’t like eating breakfast and have a very busy
life, yet want to lose weight, an intermittent fasting approach my work for
On the contrary, if you receive an 8 meal a day plan from your fitness coach, you may not feel very enthusiastic about it and most likely will fail to follow the diet.
Another thing to consider is what you are currently struggling with in your fitness journey. Is it your late-night snacking, not enough movement or high stress?
Your trainer should be able to show you how each of your lifestyle factors affects each other and how important it is to pay attention to all of them to make your training program effective.
Make sure to ask your personal trainer what is her/his system and why it would be a good fit for you.
Does this personal trainer prescribes the same
training/nutrition/recovery approach to all of his/her clients or does he
customize/change it based on the circumstance of each client?
Is there a progress tracking/assessment part?
Any personal trainer can write you a workout, but to create a system that has training phases that builds on each other requires knowledge and skills.
You want to see your roadmap and understand what is going to happen next
month and the month after that. You want to be excited about your fitness
You want to see real proof of how this trainer accomplished results with
his/her clients. Especially if these success stories feature the same results,
Do you want to bench press 300 lb? Find a personal trainer that
accomplished this task with other clients. Do you want to lose 50 lb, ask for
before/after images of similar body transformation success stories.
It is not all about before/after pictures, but you want to see opinion
and feedback of past and current clients.
This should be a no brainer, unfortunately, there are a lot of personal trainers out there who consider this an easy job to make extra cash. The easy “tell sign” of a professional personal trainer are:
(always on time)
– Attire (professional, clean look, doesn’t have to have a collared shirt or uniform but no torn jeans, tank tops and reverse baseball cap…sorry)
(ready for a personal training session with a written plan)
– Taking notes
(during the session to make sure progress is ensured)
(focused on you “the client” 100 %. Not looking at other people,
himself/herself, cell phone)
– Language (it is
ok to adjust the language to match the client’s style, however, if the entire
session is spent in screaming profanities, it doesn’t help anyone)
– Walk the talk. Your personal trainer does not have to be the biggest, leanest and strongest athlete, however, should maintain a healthy body and fitness
– Pride in his/her own work (you want a personal trainer who loves what he/she does and sees it as a career, not a summer jo
Personal training is personal, after all.
Would you choose a personal trainer that you don’t like?
If you are not comfortable with a personal trainer during the first 5
min of the consultation and something is just doesn’t feel right, it probably
won’t get much better after.
Simply follow your gut feeling. If you are choosing your trainer purely
on his/her skills and before/after pictures or a large social media following
but that persona is actually a dick, you will hate your trainer and very likely
hate the upcoming personal sessions too.
Is your personal trainer actually listening, asking you questions?
There are some amazing personal fitness trainers in Vancouver out there
who exceptionally well skilled and will be a joy to work with you.
So Google them, look for review based websites (Google, Yelp etc) go to gyms, fitness centres, fitness studios ask for a consultation with a certified personal trainer and then follow these 5 steps.
If he/she passes all of them, you have a winner.
You may have to go through a few of them. However, don’t settle for
average, your health and fitness depends on it.
It will be worth it. I promise.