Finding The Right Personal Trainer

Finding The Right Personal Trainer

The gym, working out, training, toning, firming, cardio… all of these terms can have vast essays written about them…don’t be hard on yourself if you find the science of working-out to be challenging to understand!

Training for sustainable results includes understanding how the body moves and functions internally. This knowledge is acquired through education and experience, not as simple as Instagram posts.  


It is no surprise then that people have incredibly successful careers getting others in-shape. In fact fitness and training has become so adapted into our culture that there are videos and marketing their services virtually everywhere you look. But as we all know not all services are created equal, and when it comes to investing your energy, time, money and body you want to make the right decision.

Even if you follow online videos, which is totally fine, make sure you have the knowledge of how you perform during exercise:

  • Is your form right?

  • Have you done proper training with a professional, educated trainer?

  • This will ensure any online exercises you do (if not by an educated trainer) are done within a safe boundary

Defining Exercise

The very definition of Exercise, AKA ‘Strength and Conditioning’ is Injury Prevention and Performance Enhancement.

Injury prevention

As you train, work out, or exercise (all interchangeable terms), you are fortifying and balancing your body. Correct exercise should never lead to injury. While minor injuries can be common when playing a sport, it is absolutely not okay to get hurt lifting a weight or a kettlebell or doing a push-up; the latter (exercises) are made to fortify your body and aid injury prevention!

Performance enhancement: 

A solid exercise program is meant to improve your ability in a specific sport. This is why professional athletes take part in a regular, regimented, and prescribed strength and conditioning routine.

Keys to Finding the Perfect Trainer

When picking a trainer, they should be:

  • First and foremost they must adhere to the principles stated above [injury prevention, performance enhancement]. 

  • Fun

  • Fit your style + overall personality.

8 Key Things to Review When Picking a Trainer


I say this all of the time, when you choose a doctor you do your research, you seek out a professional with the right credentials, education and experience.

When you go to work-out you are actually dealing with your body’s:

  • Muscular

  • Skeletal

  • Circulatory

  • Nervous

  • Respiratory

  • Endocrine systems

Yes, I said endocrine, as your training triggers a ton of hormonal responses. Would you trust the advice or prescription of someone that didn’t go through the proper accredited education in health and fitness

“Working out isn’t just about doing a series of moves like lunges and squats, it is about understanding what exercises, sets, reps, sequences, time intervals, rest periods and progressions are required for a person’s specific goal in a specific workout”.
— Dasha L Anderson, MS, NASM-PES, KBIA

Your workout is about:

  • Understanding how to break it down [reps, sets, sequences, time intervals, etc.]

  • The progressions, especially for the specific goal.

Certifications to keep in mind:

  • The most common governing bodies in fitness in the US are NASM and ACE

Although there are many others:

  • A standard basic credential is a CPT (Certified Personal Trainer).

There are other much more difficult specialty or in depth credentials like:

  • CSCS


  • MS [Master’s Degree in Exercise Science]

  • Physical Therapists [who are often also very educated in training individuals].

When looking for a trainer you should feel very confident asking them for their resume, references and especially credentials. You can use an internet search to check what their credentials stand for, or even check if the governing fitness bodies to ensure they currently or really do have credentials.


It is often said that you pay more for experience, and yes, that is the case when it comes to personal trainers. An investment in personal training is a big commitment for anyone, so when it comes to deciding to pay more for someone with more years under their belt it might be a struggle to decide what to do.

  • Do not be surprised that some trainers are pricier than others. 

  • Years of experience should yield a higher return, but

  • Beware of people that use the terms ‘celebrity trainer’ or ‘expert’ in their titles without any education / a ton of references / experience.

    • These people tend to charge the most.

    • Sadly very often are mis-representing themselves.

    • The term ‘expert’ is a relevant term, and training a celebrity should not carry a heavier clout than anyone else.

  • Your trainer should have credentials behind their name, THEN a number of years in their bio.

      • You’ll be able to therefore identify the variance in rates due to hype, experience, education.


  • A trainer, no matter how knowledgeable should never push THEIR goals on you.

  • Even if ‘they know best’  they need to respect what YOU want [if you want to run faster, lift heavier, look slimmer, etc.]


  • Your trainer can, and should, help guide you in the right direction.

    • If you got into training with hopes of having a slimmer mid-section but you have weak glutes and back-pain they should discuss the importance of addressing those issues. 

  • They should also be able to scale your goals and help you identify new ones in the process. 

Pain + Communication 

Sure, training is difficult and often uncomfortable, but it should not be down-right painful. Your trainer should never (ever) have you train through muscle pain, dizziness, nausea, joint instability, injury or sickness. 

Yes, you will experience a normal level of discomfort from the stress of physical output and loading the muscles with weight, but you should NOT:

  • Feel like your body is tearing apart.

  • Be Encouraged to work past your form.

For this purpose you should have a trainer that you can communicate with. They need to be able to listen and notice as much as they speak, and communicate with you as a fitness professional, not a drill instructor. 


  • Discipline is a major part of training and fitness.

  • Looking the part displays the type of discipline you are paying for.

  • If your trainer doesn’t look presentable, in shape and fit, and especially if they cannot properly execute the exercises they are giving you – they are not a good trainer.  

Think; lead by example - consider that when hiring someone to lead you to your goals. 


Training approach matters. My husband has been coaching professional athletes for over two decades. I have learned from him, that no two people are exactly a like. Sure goals, concerns, wanting to win and finding their best potential is a shared overall goal, but the way to help them do that is having an approach that is specific to their personality:

  • How does the trainee take pressure?

  • How they take criticism?

  • How they learn?

“No matter how good they are, if the communication is off and not in-tune with you, both of you will just be left frustrated after the session.”
— Dasha L Anderson, MS, NASM-PES, KBIA


  • Trainers tend to derive their own routines and methods, but

  • Make no mistake about it - none of us have recreated the wheel.

  • We [certified trainers] follow science and understand science - then we use it to program a workout and a regiment that will yield results.

  • If anyone begins to create scientific terms of tell you how they discovered something new in fitness – run!!

  • Trademarked methodology and routines are fine, but

  • Saying you discovered a new fat burning pathways or created a whole new way to build muscle is well, a flat out lie.


  • This might shock you, but exercise is not sport.

  • There is sport and there is exercise—the two are very different things and your trainer should not be playing tennis or basketball with you.

  • They should be working you out with strength and conditioning principles

[Marathon running, swimming, playing tennis, basketball, and even surfing and martial arts like kickboxing are sports, but they are not a strength training and conditioning exercise routine].

In the end, fitness is personal, and your properly certified trainer should match your goals and your personality. If they don’t, you should terminate the relationship and make sure you find someone that helps you reach your end goal, inspires you to create new goals, leads by example and makes you want to train (no matter how difficult). 

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