What Makes a Good Personal Trainer?



Knowing how to choose a good personal trainer can be difficult.  People often don’t know where to start, may be overwhelmed by the process and are likely to be led astray by available information that is full of misconceptions.  As a result, we have put together the following guidelines to help clients understand how to identify a good personal trainer and make an informed decision for themselves.


MYTH: My trainer must have a six-pack to be a good trainer.

FACT: Great bodies do not always mean great trainers. Many factors contribute to a person’s physique including age, genetics, and metabolism. It is most important that your trainer is knowledgeable, compassionate and has good communication skills.  Disregarding someone who is experienced, educated/certified, and has a loyal and satisfied client base just because s/he does not have a movie star body would be doing a disservice to yourself.

MYTH:  The best way to judge a trainer’s level of experience is by how long s/he has been a trainer.

FACT:  Number of years worked is only one way to measure a trainer’s experience level.  It is equally as important to consider how many hours or sessions s/he has performed during those years.  A trainer who has led only a few sessions per week for many years is not necessarily as experienced as a trainer who has conducted a great many sessions in less time.

MYTH: My trainer must have the most advanced equipment and do the most complex exercises to be a good trainer.

FACT: A good trainer is always prepared and can make good use of the most basic resources available. Having access to fancy gear and equipment will not compensate for a poor knowledge base and does not guarantee faster results.

MYTH: My trainer is good if I get fast results.

FACT: Be suspicious of trainers who boast quick results in a short period of time. These types of results are usually not sustainable. Good, lasting results take time and patience and are not necessarily representative of your trainer’s abilities.

MYTH: My trainer must have studied fitness in college to be good.

FACT: Certifications from accredited training organizations and a wide range of work experiences are the essentials. While obtaining a Bachelor’s in a related field (i.e. Exercise Science) shows a strong passion for and commitment to health and fitness, a college degree is not a requirement to become a personal trainer. If your trainer happens to have a bachelor’s degree in an unrelated subject matter, this is not a detriment—for clients who like to engage in lively conversations with their trainers, having a trainer with diverse interests can make for a good match.

For your reference, these are some of the top certifications that a personal trainer can hold:


MYTH: Being sore after a workout means it was a good workout.

FACT: Being sore after a workout is not necessarily indicative of a good workout, as it is actually not very hard to get a client sore. Conversely, a lack of soreness does not mean your workout was bad. What truly matters is whether or not your workout was appropriate for you based on your goals, health, and diet. Soreness may or may not be a byproduct, and either way is fine.

MYTH: Lifting weights will make me bulky.

FACT: You will not bulk up unless you are actively trying to get a power lifter’s physique. It is important to use resistance to keep your muscle fibers strong, particularly as you age, but this will not lead to a bulky body.

MYTH: Personal training is too expensive/not worth the money.

FACT: Many people view personal training as a luxury rather than as an important part of their self-care routine. Additionally, many people believe that they do not need a trainer because they are can exercise on their own or because they have read a lot about fitness and nutrition. However, no class, exercise trend or personal edification can substitute for a professional personal trainer. Having someone to teach you how to exercise properly and effectively in a sustainable way and to motivate you is invaluable. You will save money on all sorts of exercise fads and on medical bills in the future by sticking with a personal trainer for the long haul, as this will support long-term health and help prevent injuries. Consider cutting corners in the areas of your life where you are really doing the unnecessary spending.

MYTH: If a trainer is good, then I should not have to make any other efforts to see results.

FACT: In order to make progress, clients will have to be committed to other lifestyle changes outside of personal training sessions including dietary changes and additional exercise.

MYTH: You need to sweat a lot for a workout to be good.

FACT: How much you sweat when you exercise is not indicative of the quality of the workout. It also has no bearing on how much fat you will lose.

MYTH: A good personal trainer designs a specific exercise program for his/her clients.

FACT: Tracking client progress through a strict, pre-planned program is not the only way to go. While this can be useful, its’ effectiveness is limited if clients are inconsistent in their capabilities or if their sessions are too infrequent. Do not assume that your trainer is unprepared if s/he favors a different training method.

MYTH: Doing sit-ups and crunches is the way to get nice abs.

FACT: It takes much more than sit-ups to get a six-pack. Sit-ups will build only the muscles that are underneath your belly fat. Getting a flat stomach starts with a healthy diet.

MYTH: You can lose weight from specific body parts by focusing your exercise on those parts.

FACT: We don’t get to choose where we lose weight. You will need to do full-body strength training and cardio work to lose fat and eventually see changes in the areas where you want.

MYTH: My trainer can make my body look like a celebrity’s.

FACT: Personal trainers are not magicians. They can only do their best to help make your body as strong and fit as it can be for your particular physique. If your frame is straight and slight, do not expect a personal trainer to be able to transform it into one that is curvy or vice versa.