8 Things to Look for in Your Personal Trainer

When you’re taking your first steps into your weight loss journey, you often-times come up with many questions and have an even bigger list of different answers [according to Google].  Finding the right Personal Trainer should be one of those things that really does pay dividends in the long run.

…after all, that is what we’re talking about, right?  Not only getting results but getting results to last a lifetime?


To get to this point we are going to assume you already decided there is magic in being accountable to someone else.  Frankly, there is a lot of magic in being accountable to someone else.

When you reach out to a good Personal Trainer, you are finding someone who is there to get you to your goals by design.  This is all they do!

Let’s Start

1 – Thumbs DOWN

Avoid the Personal Trainer who tries to sell you on their services by using all the big technical jargon.  We too could look these words up on the internet!

1 – Thumbs UP

A great Personal Trainer teaches you by speaking to you at the level you want to engage at.  Not everybody cares about all the terminology and that’s totally fine.  And by the way, this is true of any industry.

2 – Thumbs DOWN

If your trainer just sits back as you are doing things; if they are looking at their phone while you’re doing work; if they are drinking coffee and leaning against something… this might be a big red flag.

This was a giant irritation of mine when I worked at a big box gym in town.  While the other trainers I worked with were very bright [they likely still are], perception is reality.  If you find yourself leaning against things and ‘looking’ disengaged, nobody will want to work with you because they think you don’t care.  As a client, this may not be true but it certainly looks true, no?

And while this may not be the make or break your workout, this could be the start of some nasty habits.

2 – Thumbs UP

A really great trainer will engage with you outside of what you’re doing in your sessions – they ask questions, they learn about you, your job, your family, whatever comes up in conversation.  They ask about these things later on because they know they matters to you.

Granted, not everybody wants to do this and so sometimes sessions can be a little silent.

However, if your trainer is leaning forward into what’s “going on,” they are giving you feedback in the moment, and they are waiting to take a sip of their coffee until you’re done with your set… this is a much better sign!

3 – Thumbs DOWN

Have you ever noticed that the client right before you is doing something eerily similar to what you’re doing?  While there are some fundamental carry-overs that every human being needs to be trained in and familiar with, the same workout shouldn’t be done for everybody all day long.

The group class model is a bit different but even in a good CrossFit gym, there is individuality in the workout happening.

3 – Thumbs UP

You have specific goals and so you should be training in the things that apply to your goals.

The things that every human being should know [and what might actually look the same regardless of the client]?

  • The hinge
  • The squat
  • The press
  • The pull
  • The lunge
  • The carry
  • The rotation and anti-rotation

Beyond that [and the phase of training you’re in], nothing should be the same.  Similar, probably.  Same, no.

4 – Thumbs DOWN

Tardiness.  Admittedly, I have been late before.  Accidents happen and I own up to them.

But, if your trainer is chronically late and chronically leaves a little early [unless leaving 5 minutes early was part of the agreement when you signed up], this is a giant red flag.

4 – Thumbs UP

Your Personal Trainer should be at your session early enough to do a little set up or prep work ahead of time.  That is all.

5 – Thumbs DOWN

A trainer not worth their salt will not address a big piece of the puzzle – they avoid the nutrition talk.  This does not mean they have to do it if they’re not comfy with it but they should have a connection with someone who does.

Everyone needs the nutrition talk.  Everyone.

5 – Thumbs UP

A great Personal Trainer understands just how nutrition plays roles in weight loss, body composition changes, adding muscle, improving performance, improving health markers, and pretty much everything else.

They will help you with it or they will connect you with someone who can.  The point is, nutrition is going to be addressed.

6 – Thumbs DOWN

While it is sometimes easy to see and feel the results as they occur, it is more fun [and creates loads of energy and motivation] to see objective improvements.

Consider it a missed opportunity to share in successes if your trainer does not retest movements or workouts with you.

6 – Thumbs UP

Retests don’t make up a bulk of your workouts but you should do them from time to time.  If your fitness is improving, there are likely some other added benefits – weight loss, body composition changes, etc.

If you’re a Personal Trainer, make sure you retest.

7 – Thumbs DOWN

There is a time and a place for getting fast results – beach vacation in 2 months; getting married in a month; your health needs it ASAP.  Outside of those things, it is likely irresponsible on the part of your trainer to get you results as fast as possible.

This sounds counterintuitive, but stay with me for a second.

7 – Thumbs UP

Nobody starts their health and fitness journey with the thought, “I’m going to lose all this weight and then I want to make sure I gain it all back, and then some, when I’m done.”  Nobody.

For you in the back, nobody…

When you’re working so hard to get results, you want to have tips, tactics, and techniques to keep it off.  A great Personal Trainer will help you build the habits you need to increase the likelihood you will continue to have success [even after you’re done working with them].  Give you a fish vs teach you to fish and all.

Thanks for sticking with me for a second!

8 – Thumbs DOWN

Unless your Personal Trainer happens to be an Athletic Trainer, a Physical Therapist, or something along those lines, they have no business diagnosing pain with you.  In fact, they could get in some big doo-doo.

This is not to say that working in conjunction with one of these other professionals doesn’t teach them about what’s going on and what sorts of things you, as an individual, need at that moment.  However, this is not an excuse for them to do the same protocols with the next person that they perceive as having the same problem.

They could make it worse.  They could get fired.  They could ruin your desire to do something about your health and fitness.

8 – Thumbs UP

A great Personal Trainer knows to refer out to specialists.  Even better, they have connections with specialists who also believe in the value of strength and conditioning to work hand in hand with.

Your trainer needs to stay in the scope of their practice.  Full stop.

That’s It!

I came up with several more but this is a pretty complete list of do’s and don’ts when looking for a really great Personal Trainer.  Make sure they are engaged, make sure they ask questions, and make sure they help you understand and build your habits.

Want to talk to one of our amazing trainers and see how we can get you to your goals?  Click HERE!

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