How to Find a Good Personal Trainer (5 Mistakes to Avoid)

personal trainer

Finding the right personal trainer can transform your fitness journey. However, discovering that perfect match can be quite difficult. This comprehensive guide will help you overcome these challenges, ensuring you make informed decisions while searching for a personal trainer.

By understanding and avoiding these five critical mistakes, you’ll be well on your way to achieving your fitness goals with a trainer who truly suits your needs.

Key Takeaways

  • It’s crucial to have specific, realistic, and measurable fitness goals before seeking a personal trainer. 
  • Check for nationally recognized certifications (like NASM, ACE, or ACSM) and ensure the trainer has experience relevant to your fitness goals.
  • The trainer’s personality and teaching style should complement your preferences and learning style for an effective and enjoyable training experience.
  • Ensure the trainer’s schedule aligns with yours and choose a convenient training location to maintain consistency and motivation.
  • Engaging in trial sessions with a personal trainer helps gauge compatibility and effectiveness before making a long-term commitment.

1. Not Defining Your Fitness Goals

Not Defining Your Fitness Goals

Many people start looking for a personal trainer without a clear idea of what they want to achieve. This lack of direction can lead to mismatched expectations and unsatisfactory results. Often, this results in a mismatch where the trainer’s expertise does not align with the client’s needs, leading to frustration on both sides.

How to Avoid It?

  • Define Your Goals: Be specific about what you want to achieve, whether it’s weight loss, muscle gain, improved endurance, or something else. It’s essential to set realistic and measurable goals to track your progress effectively.
  • Communicate Clearly: Share these goals with potential trainers to ensure they can cater to your needs. A good trainer will use this information to create a customized workout plan that aligns with your objectives.

2. Ignoring Your Trainer’s Qualifications and Experience

Personal Trainer - Certification

Choosing a trainer based solely on their physical appearance or charisma, without considering their professional credentials. This can lead to choosing a trainer who lacks the necessary skills or knowledge to provide safe and effective guidance.

How to Avoid It?

  • Check Certifications: Look for nationally recognized certifications from organizations like NASM, ACE, or ACSM. These certifications ensure that the trainer has a strong foundation in fitness and nutrition science.
  • Consider Experience: A trainer with experience relevant to your goals can provide more tailored guidance. An experienced trainer can also adapt workouts to accommodate any special needs or injuries you might have.

3. Overlooking Their Personality and Teaching Style

Failing to consider whether a trainer’s personality and teaching style align with your preferences and learning style. A trainer’s demeanor can greatly impact your motivation and comfort during sessions.

How to Avoid It?

  • Personality Matters: Choose a trainer whose personality complements yours. This can create a more enjoyable and motivating environment, which is crucial for long-term success.
  • Teaching Style: Ensure their teaching style matches how you learn best, whether it’s through detailed explanations, demonstrations, or hands-on guidance. A good match can enhance your understanding and execution of exercises.

4. Neglecting to Discuss Availability and Location

Working With a Personal Trainer

Not discussing logistics like schedule compatibility and training location, can lead to inconvenience and missed sessions. This can disrupt your training consistency and slow down your progress.

How to Avoid It?

  • Make sure the trainer’s schedule aligns with yours. Consistent scheduling is key to maintaining momentum and progress in your fitness journey.
  • Choose a location that is convenient for both of you to maintain consistency. If the location is too far or inconvenient, it may discourage regular attendance.

5. Skipping the Trial Session

Committing to a trainer without first experiencing their training style and approach through a trial session. This can lead to discovering incompatibilities after you’ve already invested time and money.

How to Avoid It?

  • Take advantage of trial sessions to gauge compatibility. This is a no-commitment way to experience the trainer’s approach and see if it fits your expectations.
  • Use this opportunity to provide feedback and see how the trainer adjusts to your needs. A responsive trainer will modify techniques and approaches based on your feedback.

What Are the Signs Of a Bad Personal Trainer?

Bad Personal Trainer

Recognizing the signs of a bad personal trainer is crucial to ensure you don’t waste your time, money, and effort on an ineffective or potentially harmful training experience. Here are key indicators that a personal trainer may not be the right fit for you:

  • Lack of Professional Credentials: If the trainer lacks certification from reputable organizations like NASM, ACE, or ACSM, or doesn’t have any formal education in fitness or related fields, this is a red flag.
  • One-Size-Fits-All Approach: A bad trainer might use the same training routine for all clients, regardless of their individual goals, fitness levels, and medical histories.
  • Poor Communication Skills: If a trainer fails to listen to your concerns, doesn’t explain exercises clearly, or doesn’t provide constructive feedback, it’s a sign of poor communication.
  • Neglecting Client Safety: Disregarding safety, pushing you to perform exercises beyond your capability, or not correcting your form to prevent injury are serious concerns.
  • Lack of Professionalism: Unprofessional behavior can include being consistently late, canceling sessions frequently without good reason, paying more attention to their phone than to their session, or behaving inappropriately.
  • No Interest in Your Progress: A trainer who doesn’t track your progress, fails to adjust your training program as needed, or shows a general disinterest in your goals and feedback is not effectively supporting your fitness journey.
  • Unrealistic Promises: Be wary of trainers who guarantee quick, dramatic results. Fitness and health goals typically require time and consistent effort.
  • Failure to Conduct Initial Assessments: Not performing any initial assessments or health screenings to understand your fitness level, medical history, and specific needs is a negative indicator.
  • Too Much Focus on Sales: If a trainer seems more interested in selling supplements, additional sessions, or other products than in your training, this might be a sign they are more concerned with profit than your progress.
  • Unwillingness to Address Questions or Concerns: A good trainer should be open to questions and willing to discuss any concerns you have. Avoid trainers who dismiss your questions or seem bothered by them.
  • Making You Feel Uncomfortable: If you feel uncomfortable, intimidated, or disrespected in any way, it’s a clear sign that the trainer is not a good fit for you.

What About an Online Personal Trainer?

Online personal training has become increasingly popular, offering a convenient and flexible approach to fitness. Here are the pros and cons of engaging an online personal trainer:

Pros  Cons 
Flexibility and Convenience You can train anytime without needing to coordinate with a trainer or travel to a gym. Ideal for busy or unpredictable schedules. Lack of In-Person Supervision Harder to get immediate feedback on form and technique, increasing injury risk.
Access to a Wider Range of Trainers Not limited to local trainers; you can find a trainer specializing in your needs or interests. Requires Self-Motivation Higher self-discipline and motivation needed to follow through with workouts independently.
Cost-Effective Often cheaper than in-person trainers as they don’t need gym space and can work with multiple clients efficiently. Potential for Miscommunication Communicating online can lead to misunderstandings or lack of clarity in exercise demonstrations.
Customized Workout Plans Online trainers can provide tailored workout plans just like traditional training. Technical Issues Poor internet or technical glitches can disrupt communication and sessions.
Accountability and Support Regular check-ins via video calls, messages, or emails offer accountability and support. Limited Interaction Lack of face-to-face interaction can make the experience less personal and less motivating.
Technology Integration Incorporates fitness apps and tools for tracking progress and logging workouts. Equipment Limitations Possible lack of access to a variety of gym equipment, limiting workout diversity.


How often should I meet with my personal trainer?

The frequency of sessions with a personal trainer depends on your fitness goals and schedule. However, most people benefit from meeting 2-3 times per week. This allows for consistent progress and accountability while giving you time to rest and recover.

Can a personal trainer help with diet and nutrition?

Yes, many of them know diet and nutrition and can offer guidance on healthy eating habits. However, for specific dietary plans or medical nutrition therapy, it’s best to consult a registered dietitian or nutrition specialist.

What should I do if I’m not seeing results with my current personal trainer?

If you’re not seeing results, first evaluate your goals and efforts outside of training sessions. Discuss your concerns with your trainer, as they may need to adjust your training program. If issues persist, consider seeking a different trainer.

Is it normal to feel sore after training sessions?

Yes, it’s common to experience muscle soreness after training, especially if you’re new to exercise or trying new activities. This soreness typically subsides within a few days. However, sharp or persistent pain may indicate an injury and should be checked.

Should I choose a personal trainer who specializes in a specific area?

If you have specific goals like bodybuilding, sports performance, or rehabilitation, choosing a trainer who specializes in that area can be beneficial. They will have more targeted knowledge and training techniques to help you achieve those specific goals.

How long does it typically take to see results with a personal trainer?

Results can vary based on individual goals, effort, consistency, and starting point. Generally, noticeable physical and performance improvements can be seen within 8 to 12 weeks of consistent training and proper nutrition.


Selecting the right personal trainer is a crucial step in your fitness journey. By avoiding these five common mistakes, you can find a trainer who not only meets your needs but also inspires and motivates you to achieve your goals.

A good trainer-client relationship is based on mutual respect, understanding, and commitment to your fitness objectives. With the right trainer by your side, you’re setting the stage for a successful and enjoyable fitness journey.

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