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Choosing a Personal Trainer for You – Everything You Need to Know When Thinking About Hiring a Personal Trainer to Help You Reach Your Muscle Building or Fat Loss Goals

  Oct 30th, 2011

Hiring a personal trainer is something that seems simple, but can actually be quite tedious. It is true that just hiring any old personal trainer would be a fairly simple process.


However, if you want a personal trainer that is going to be effective at helping you to efficiently transform your body, there are several factors that you will want to consider before deciding on paying a trainer to help you reach your personal fitness goals.


In this posting I am going to provide you with the wide breadth of details that you will want to consider when making the decision of which personal trainer to hire. I will also explain what benefits you can reasonably expect from a personal trainer, what you can expect to pay for a personal trainer and also provide you with some insights to help you determine if hiring a personal trainer is truly right for you.


Missing Piece to Fitness Puzzle

What to Expect From a Personal Trainer

Many people hire a personal trainer under the misconception that a trainer is the missing piece of the puzzle for them to finally get the body they have always wanted.


You must understand that a personal trainer is nothing more than a tool to help you reach your goals. Simply hiring a personal trainer is not going to guarantee that you will be able to make dramatic changes to your physique.


Your personal trainer, if they are worth anything, will require a certain amount of dedication on your part and if you are not willing to commit yourself to the nutrition principles and training techniques that they will require you to follow, you are better off keeping your money because a personal trainer is not a substitute for complacency.


On the other hand, if you are truly committed to reaching your goals and just need someone to give you the knowledge you need to succeed, and maybe a little extra motivation, then a personal trainer may be a good fit for you.


Qualities of a Good Personal Trainer

For years I would see people at the gym working with personal trainers and still looking the exact same month after month. While a certain amount of blame could certainly be placed on the clients, the personal trainer also has to take some responsibility as well.


For the life of me I can’t figure out why someone would continue to pay for a personal trainer without seeing a lick of results, but it happens all of the time.


In my time working with and around other trainers I have noticed a few key characteristics that separate effective personal trainers from those that are less effective:


• Lots of attention to the basics of nutrition, lifting form and training techniques

• Realistic expectations of their clients that do not require them to spend hours at the gym each day

• Construction of short-term goals for their clients to shoot for on their way to reaching their ultimate goal
• Always available for their clients

• Truly caring about helping others reach their goals


Focusing on the Basics First

Far too many trainers get way ahead of themselves when beginning to train a new client. They give them hundreds of instructions and do little beyond simply overwhelming their clients to the point where they are only able to retain a very small percentage of the information they are trying to teach.


The best personal trainers understand the importance that needs to be placed on their clients understanding basic training and nutrition concepts and will spend at least several weeks making sure their clients have mastered using the proper form on the various lifts included in their training regimen, along with knowing how to properly feed their body to get their desired result, before moving on to more advanced lifts, nutrition principles and training techniques.


If, in your first training session, you are overwhelmed with instructions on how to perform each lift and critiqued on every little thing that you are doing, this is a sign that your trainer is more interested in making themself look knowledgeable than they are about teaching you the fundamentals that you need to know before being inundated with advanced instructions.


I am not saying that your trainer shouldn’t point out where you are using improper form, but they shouldn’t look for perfection from the first training session. It is unrealistic for your personal trainer to expect you to master proper lifting form in your very first workout. As long as you are not in danger of injuring yourself, progress is all that your trainer should be looking for.


Realistic Expectations

Good trainers will also not place unrealistic expectations on their clients. You want to make sure that your trainer makes note of your availability and does everything possible to make your training plan fit within your schedule.


Now, if you are only willing to train 2 days per week, your trainer is likely going to tell you that achieving significant results simply isn’t possible while only training 2 days a week and they will push you to commit to another day or two – and rightfully so.


However, if you tell your trainer that you can train for an hour each day Monday through Friday and they expect more than that from you, you should look somewhere else because training 5 hours a week is more than a sufficient commitment for anyone to get fantastic results.


Speaking of results…


When you have your initial consultation with your trainer they should ask what your goals are and then give you a set of short-term goals for you to shoot for on your way to achieving your ultimate goal.


If your trainer simply makes some kind of vague statement like, “that is definitely doable”, without any kind of milestones for you to shoot for along the way, this is an indication that they are afraid of committing to the results that you will achieve from their instruction and are not very confident in their abilities to get you the results that you desire.


A good personal trainer with lots of experience will be able to give you an approximation of the results you can expect to get from week to week, or month to month, on your way to reaching your goal. If your trainer doesn’t offer a results-based plan for reaching your personal fitness goals, ask them to provide one. If they refuse, or seem like they are not very confident in the results you can expect to get from following their instruction, find another trainer!


Your Trainer Should Be Available

Quality personal trainers will not only teach and motivate you in the gym, but will also give you instructions on how to eat and rest while away from the gym. It is inevitable that you will have some questions while you are away from the gym and your trainer should be available to answer those questions.


As such, it is important that your personal trainer encourages their clients to contact them at any time if they have any questions.


Before you commit to hiring a personal trainer, make sure that they will be available to answer questions and provide guidance during the times between your training sessions.


You Want a Trainer That Loves What They Do

Some personal trainers see their job as a way to make money and nothing more. However, as with any profession, the personal trainers that have a long list of satisfied clients are those that truly love what they do and want nothing more than to help others to get a body that they can be proud of.


Most of the time, personal trainers that have an extreme desire to help others are those that were previously unhappy with their own physique and know what it feels like to want to improve their body, but not know exactly how to make it happen.


If your trainer is someone who has successfully transformed their own physique, or is one that makes how much they care about your success obvious in their correspondence with you, you can trust them to do everything within their power to help you get a body that you are happy with.


Few things are more satisfying to me than knowing that I have helped someone get a body that they can be proud of – that is why I started


Hopefully the tips I have shared have given you a fairly good idea about how to identify a quality personal trainer before making the decision to hire them. I now want to give you some advice on a few things that you will want cover before making the decision to hire a personal trainer.


Before You Hire a Personal Trainer…

I have just covered several of the characteristics of successful personal trainers in order to help you avoid hiring a personal trainer that is less than effective. Now I want to dig a little deeper into the decision making process and give you a few more things that you need to consider before making the final decision to hire a personal trainer.


Request a Free Training Session

Most gyms or health clubs offer a free personal training session to their new members. But, if you are not a new gym member, and are thinking about hiring a personal trainer, you should still ask for a free one on one training session.


A free training session is a great way to find out the specific training style of the trainer you are working with, see how you like their personality and motivational tactics, ask further questions regarding the experience and background of the personal trainer and just get a better gut feeling as to whether this person is someone that you will be comfortable working with several days throughout the week for an extended period of time.


Many personal trainers will offer a free training session to prospective clients, but if they fail to offer you one, don’t hesitate to ask if they would be willing to give you a free session to help you make your decision. Nine times out of ten they will be more than happy to accommodate your request. And if they don’t, tell them thanks anyway and move on.


If they won’t take an hour out of their day to help you decide if their services are right for you, they are probably not someone that you should trust to commit themselves to helping you reach your fitness goals.


Ask to See Before and After Pictures of Your Prospective Trainer or Their Clients

If you are considering hiring a personal trainer to help you improve your body, one of the most responsible things you can do is to find out if your prospective personal trainer has been able to get similar results with past clients or on their own body.


After all, if they have been unable to induce changes that are similar to those you would like to see made to your own body with past clients, what makes you think that they will be able to do it for you?


A few before and after photos of current and past clients that have gotten the kinds of results you are looking for will let you know that you can trust that your trainer will be able to do the same for you. This will also give you a great sense of reassurance that you are hiring a personal trainer that you can have confidence in to help you transform your body.


Make Sure the Cost of a Personal Trainer is Affordable for Your Budget

The cost of using a personal trainer can vary, but it is important that you realize up front that hiring a personal trainer is a commitment that will last for several months, and could even last for a year or longer.


Always keep in mind that a trainer is not a requirement for you to drastically improve your physique (more on this in a moment) and that hiring a personal trainer will likely cost you hundreds of dollars each month.


If your financial situation is not stable enough for you to be able to take on the additional costs of hiring a personal trainer, you may want to reconsider whether hiring a personal trainer is truly necessary.


In most cases it isn’t…


Cost of a Personal Trainer

Like I said above, the cost of hiring a personal trainer will vary and will be dependent upon factors such as:


• The experience and portfolio of the trainer

• The average cost of living of the area in which you live

• Whether you are doing one-on-one training or group training

• If you will be paying on a session by session basis or paying for several weeks or months in advance


Before you make a final decision on which personal trainer you should hire, it would behoove you to ask around to find out what most personal trainers are charging in your area. You will likely be surprised to find out that there can be a large difference in the amount that different trainers will charge for their services.


In the St. Louis, MO area in which I live, I have heard of personal trainers charging as little as $20 per hour all the way up to as much as $100 per hour. So, you want to make sure that you at least have some idea of what different trainers are charging for their services in your area and figure out how much you are willing to pay per personal training session before making any final decisions.

Group Weight Training Session

Group Personal Training

Group personal training is an option that I wouldn’t recommend to most people, but it is an option that can be considerably cheaper than paying for one on one training sessions. By training a group of clients at once some personal trainers use group training sessions as a way to earn more money per hour while still charging each individual client less per hour.


Sounds like a win-win situation right? Not always…


The problem with group personal training is that it takes away from the entire reason that most people hire a personal trainer in the first place – personalized instruction.


If you decide to go the group training route, you need to be prepared to get less of a workout and be aware of the fact that you will only receive a small fraction of the personalized instruction and attention that you would otherwise receive with a one on one personal training session.


At Home Personal Training

At home personal training is an option for people who have a home gym, those that do not have a means of transportation for getting to and from a public gym, individuals who are not comfortable being trained in a public gym setting, or those people who would simply prefer to have a trainer come to their home to train them.


While it is true that at home personal training can be a very convenient option, there are a few aspects that you will want to consider before settling on this option:


• At home personal training is typically more expensive than meeting with your trainer at the gym that employs them

• Depending on your particular fitness goals, you may need to purchase certain pieces of home gym equipment to be used as part of your personal training sessions

• You will have to worry about the appearance of your home on the days that your trainer is scheduled to come over (if you care about that sort of thing)


As with group training, I believe that at home personal training is an option that should be avoided by most people as training at an actual gym tends to result in trainees feeding off of the environment, leading to them working out with a greater level of intensity and leading to the development of meaningful relationships with other clients and health-minded people at the gym that can provide inspiration and motivation – especially for a beginner.


Making the Decision of Hiring a Personal Trainer

Many people hire a personal trainer without putting much thought into their decision. They think, “If I had a personal trainer, then I would start to get results.”


In some cases a personal trainer can be extremely beneficial for individuals who have a desire to improve their bodies, but have absolutely no clue about how to go about making it happen.


On the other hand, I see far too many people who think that a trainer is the answer for their problems when the main reasons they are unhappy with their body are self-inflicted.


For instance, if you know that you are not willing to commit yourself to following a structured nutrition plan, don’t hire a personal trainer! Any trainer that is worth paying will understand the importance of nutrition and will give you certain dietary instructions and guidelines for you to follow.


The foods that you have been feeding your body are directly responsible for the way you look, and if you aren’t willing to make significant changes to your eating habits, you will not be able to make any kind of drastic improvements to your physique – no matter how hard your trainer works you out.


That being said, there are certain types of people that are indeed well suited for using a personal trainer to reach their bodybuilding or fitness goals.


In order to help you decide if hiring a personal trainer is truly the best decision for you, I am going to briefly explain what kinds of people will most often benefit from hiring a personal trainer and then explain the types of people will not typically benefit from using a personal trainer.


Who Should Consider Hiring a Personal Trainer

• Individuals who are moderately motivated and need someone to hold them accountable to keep them on track

• Absolute beginners to the bodybuilding and fitness scene

• Those who can use constructive criticism as motivation to improve


The Moderately Motivated

When I say “moderately motivated”, I am not meaning the person who sits around wishing they could look like Brad Pitt (or Megan Fox for the girls).


I am talking about someone who regularly trains (or at least has the desire to regularly train) and is willing to improve their eating habits, but just needs a little help getting to the next level of training and eating in a manner that is consistent with their fitness or bodybuilding goals.


Personal trainers are great for providing new and unique perspectives on eating and training for getting results and can sometimes provide an increased sense of urgency and motivation that can be extremely effective at geting a moderately motivated person over the hump to becoming fervently passionate about reaching their goals.


In certain cases, a new perspective is all that someone needs to boost their motivation and jump-start their results.


Personal Trainers for Beginners

In my opinion, beginners will usually experience the greatest benefit from hiring a personal trainer. A beginner is not necessarily someone who has never trained with weights before.


A beginner is anyone who has never been taught proper lifting form, has very little knowledge about nutrition and/or has no clue how to structure their training plan to get the results that they desire.


To make sure I am being perfectly clear, if you have never made significant improvements to your physique before, you are a beginner. Believe it or not, the majority of those training at any public gym would be considered beginners by this definition.


Personal trainers are very good at being able to provide beginners with a solid base of knowledge that will help eliminate many of the mistakes and misinformation that would otherwise result in months or years of wasted efforts on the front end of their bodybuilding or fitness journey.


The Element of Constructive Criticism

In order for you to most effectively transform your body, you will need to be made aware of all of the areas in which you need to improve – in and outside of the gym. Therefore, your personal trainer is going to need to be brutally honest with you in terms of explaining the things that you will need to do if you are going to reach your goals.


Some people automatically get down on themselves when their flaws are brought out in the open, while others will see this as an opportunity for improvement.


If you are the kind of person that can use constructive criticism as a motivational force to push you to improve upon the things that are keeping you from reaching your goals, then a personal trainer will be a valuable tool for enabling you to see the areas in which you need to change, while providing you with the motivation and accountability you will need in order to follow through with making long term improvements to your physique.


The topics I have touched on above are a few of the personality traits that I have found to be common among those who find success from hiring a personal trainer. I am now going to quickly give some personal characteristics that, in my opinion, will indicate that a personal trainer may not be the best option.


Who Should Not Consider Hiring a Personal Trainer

• People who have gotten results in the past without a personal trainer

• Anyone who has a high level of self motivation

• Individuals who absolutely prefer to train alone

• Those who find constructive criticism to negatively impact their self esteem and level of motivation

• Anyone who prefers written instructions to oratory instructions

• Someone thinking that a personal trainer is an easy way to reach their goals


Those Who Have Gotten Past Results

If you are someone who has previously built a physique that you were happy with, chances are that you understand what it takes to get the results that you are looking for and will not benefit very much from the instructions that you trainer will provide.


Although, there are exceptions as you may have a good understanding about how to quickly shed fat, but may not necessarily understand the principles required to pack on lean muscle mass nearly as well.


If building lean muscle mass is now your goal, then perhaps a trainer could help add to your bodybuilding experience and knowledge-base.


On the other hand, if you are looking to get back the results that you had already gotten before, you may be more in need of a motivational boost than anything else. A trainer can certainly provide you with the motivation to succeed, but you will be paying a high amount for that motivation.


Instead, I would recommend setting a few short-term goals for yourself and then dedicating yourself to reaching them. I have found that more times than not, committing to reaching a series of short term goals is more than enough to motivate me to succeed – especially if I tell my family and friends about my goals as a way to create a sense of accountability.


Motivation to Workout

The Self-Motivated

Some people, like myself, are of the self-motivated breed. When we want something we go after it and will do whatever it takes to realize our goals. I find that I can provide myself with all of the motivation I need to successfully transform my body without a trainer (or anyone else) holding me accountable.


I hold myself accountable!


I realize that not everyone is good at motivating themselves and creating an internal sense of accountability, but if you are this kind of person, your most pressing need is to find the right information to show you exactly what you need to do to reach your goals.


Once you are armed with the right information, you will be able to commit yourself to applying what you have learned and won’t look back until you are a success story. If this describes you, I recommend finding a quality book or bodybuilding program to show you how to get the results that you desire.


I have tried a lot of great programs over the years and would love to recommend one to you to get you started. Feel free to contact me anytime and tell me what your goals are as I would love to help you find a program that would be perfect for your specific goals.


Individuals Who Prefer to Train Alone

I see far too many people wasting hours of their life each week chatting away at the gym when they should be training with a purpose. This is exactly why I choose to mostly train alone.


Don’t get me wrong, having a training partner can be a great thing, but only if you and your training partner are able to focus on the task at hand and not get side tracked chatting about the girl on the treadmill or your problems at work.


I don’t know about you, but I prefer to have some rock music blaring in my headphones while focusing on absolutely nothing between sets except for how I am going to dominate the iron on my next set. Training alone allows me to train faster and harder resulting in greater results in less time.


If this describes how you prefer to train, I can tell you right now that a personal trainer will probably annoy you more than they will help you because you will feel less productive in your time at the gym than if you were training alone. That is not to say that a personal trainer wouldn’t be helpful for you – just that you probably won’t enjoy training with an instructor very much.


Inability to Deal Well with Constructive Criticism

As I said above, part of a personal trainer’s responsibilities is to point out the areas that you most need to improve upon. And if you are the type of person that takes constructive criticism very personally, and find it to be more depressing than motivating, you will want to either make sure that you can deal with some harsh criticism or resort to finding a good book or written bodybuilding program to help you get started.


A Preference for Written Instruction

Different people have different settings in which they are able to most effectively learn and retain information. Some people excel with hands-on instruction, while others are better suited for reading and learning about a concept before actually putting it into practice.


If you are someone who would prefer to understand the concepts and principles behind a training and nutrition program before committing to following it, a personal trainer may not be the best fit for you as using a personal trainer to help you reach your goals requires you to invest a fair amount of trust that your trainer is instructing you correctly.


Again, if you prefer to have a considerable amount of understanding before jumping in full force with a personal training program, you may be better off investing in a book or program that will teach you the concepts you need to know and tell you how to put those concepts into practice to most effectively improve your body.


Hiring a Personal Trainer is Not an Easy Way Out!

Hiring a personal trainer is not an easy way out (although, it may be an easier way out).


The truth is that the only way that you will be able to transform your physique into one that you can be absolutely proud of is through consistent training and eating for success.


A trainer can be a great tool for you to use for providing some guidance and accountability, but if you are not prepared to commit yourself to training and nutrition, you will not get the body that you desire – regardless of whether you hire a personal trainer or not.


Is Hiring a Personal Trainer Really Right for You?

You are the only one that can truly decide if hiring a personal trainer is right for you. My goal of this posting is to provide you with the most comprehensive look at the things you will want to consider when thinking about hiring a personal trainer.


Now it is up to you to take what you have learned and make the best informed decision possible. The decision of whether or not to hire a personal trainer is not one to be taken lightly as it will likely cost you hundreds of dollars each month and there are a lot of less than stellar trainers out there.


I only hope that your decision will be a little easier after reading this.


If you feel that finding a quality book or program to teach you how to eat and train to reach your goals is something that you would prefer over hiring a personal trainer, I encourage you to check out my book, Ripped Out.



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