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Natural Awakenings Twin Cities

What to Look for When Choosing a Personal Trainer

Mar 31, 2022 08:00PM ● By Jeffrey Scott


With so many choices available, finding the right fit in a personal trainer can be difficult. A personal trainer assists their clients in determining the correct exercises and frequency to help achieve realistic and attainable goals. Clients will waste both time and money if they choose the wrong trainer, leading them to lose motivation.

Hiring a personal trainer is no different than hiring an accountant, a financial advisor or a doctor. When meeting with a personal trainer for the first time, it is important to consider several things to determine if the person is truly qualified and a good fit.

It is vital to remember that the client/trainer relationship is truly “personal”. Clients often spend a good deal of time with their trainer. They share personal information, including health and medical conditions or family issues that could affect the course of the program. When interviewing a trainer, the client needs to determine their level of comfort with the person and how well they are listening to their concerns and interested in their well-being. Listening to one’s gut feeling or intuition is important and should not be overlooked.

Credentials assure professionalism and safety. Though certifications are not necessary, those who seek advanced training are demonstrating that they care about their clients and are investing in their business and developing the knowledge and skills needed to create stronger training plans. As an example, a skilled trainer should understand periodization, a technique used to design exercises that improve long-term performance while preventing overtraining. Trainers use this strategy of varying the intensity, volume, frequency and specificity of exercises within certain training periods or cycles. 

Though a personal trainer does not need to be a nutritionist, they should understand and value nutrition. A skilled trainer should know the nutrition guidelines, understand how nutrients impact health and how diet will impact the client’s ability to achieve their goals. Athletic performance is aided by good nutrition, providing the energy needed to complete a race or simply enjoy a leisurely sport or pastime, and is necessary for healing and recovery. 

A qualified trainer should have a clear strategy customized to the client’s needs. Carefully planning, measuring and monitoring are important in determining the best course of action to work toward the client’s goals. This is done in collaboration with the client as the trainer needs to understand what challenges they might face, their endurance level and what motivates them. This is not a one-size-fits-all approach and should be tailored for each client.

It is important that the trainer can explain to the client what they should expect, including the boundaries of the program, the limitations of the exercises and how they will determine when to stop an activity when the client is no longer progressing. This ensures their safety and wellbeing.

Often overlooked is whether the trainer has liability insurance. Clients often think if they are working in a gym and have an accident, the gym has some responsibility. However, the trainer is usually not an employee of the gym, but rather an independent contractor. Asking for proof of liability insurance is vital.

Finally, the client should consider the convenience in scheduling and location, ensuring the times the trainer is available align with their schedule. The times should be convenient to make sure this is not an unnecessary barrier to training. Equally as important is the location. If meeting in the gym, consider the length of the drive, traffic patterns at the time the training will take place, ease of parking and how safe the location feels. 

There are personal trainers that will meet in the client’s home or workplace. If this is considered, it is even more important the client feel safe with the trainer. Additionally, careful consideration should be given to the type of equipment that is needed and how it will be maintained. Often, clients will choose to meet in the gym so they can use a variety of equipment without the stress of upkeep.

Although choosing a personal trainer can seem overwhelming, the process can be easier if one is aware of these red flags:

  • Talks about themself without discussing the client’s goals – It will never be proper for the personal trainer to focus only on their experience, essentially selling why they are the best fit. The trainer should be asking about the client and focus on the outcome. During the first meeting, an assessment should be made and targets should be explained in order for the client to visualize the goal.

  • No references – A personal trainer that is afraid to share and unwilling to give references should be avoided. If the trainer is really good in implementing programs and having a constant partnership with the customer, they should have clients willing to provide a recommendation. Asking for references is an important aspect in interviewing a prospective trainer.

  • Pushes for a decision – A trainer should not pressure the customer to make decisions immediately, especially on their first meeting. Building rapport and creating a professional relationship is paramount in assuring a continuous and healthy training environment.

  • Apathetic trainers – Trainers should guide and be positive about the process to encourage participation and motivation. 

  • Hedging on the price of the workout session – A personal trainer should be able to easily answer what the cost of their training is so the client can decide if it fits in their budget. Hedging can create miscommunication and can waste the time of both the client and the trainer.

  • Cancelling appointments – This demonstrates inconsistency and unwillingness to commit to the process.

Working with a personal trainer can help achieve health and fitness objectives, whether the client is new to exercising or considers the gym a second home. Finding the right trainer will make a difference in motivation and success.

Courtesy of ME&I Fitness and Performance

 Jeffrey Scott is an EXOS certified performance specialist and founder of ME&I Fitness and Performance, in Minneapolis. This locally owned and operated fitness center serves clients from around the Twin Cities and beyond. Scott’s team of fitness professionals offers personal training, small group fitness sessions and individual memberships. To learn more, call 612-208-8654 or visit

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