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Personal training, Fitness, General Health

How do I Choose a Personal Trainer at my Local Gym?

By Joe Talarico on Dec 17, 2020 10:15:00 AM
5 Minutes Reading Time


Fitness is a huge industry and there are a ton of bad trainers as a result. Between how easy getting a certification is, and (at least within big box gyms) given how little most trainers are paid per session, how predatory some can get to lock you down as a client, it’s good as a prospective customer to know what to look for to make sure you are spending your money on the right one.

Ask Questions

Ask away! Do not be afraid to grill them with questions to learn if they are worthy. If they get defensive that’s a red flag anyways. Some questions you could ask are:

  • What certifications do you have?
  • How long have you been a trainer?
  • If I want (insert goal here), what would be your overall plan to get me there?
  • What if I have (insert preexisting injury)?
  • How have you helped others with my goal reach it?

The reason I like these questions is that it will cut through a lot of the bullshit. How long they have been a trainer will allow you to understand if they’ve even been in the game long enough. Asking about specific goals and injuries forces the trainer to think. The last thing you want is a cookie cutter program. By asking specific questions catered to what you want, you are looking to see if they would create a program for your exact situation, or if they’d just have you do the same thing you’ve seen them do with every other client.

Think of it like an interview. If I was spending money on a service, I want to know I am getting the best bang for my buck.

Watch How They Are With Other Clients

This is another good tactic. If you already go to that gym a lot, and work out on your own, just see how they carry themselves with their clients.

  • Are they on their phone?
  • Are they super engaged with their client or checked out?
  • Are they keeping track of workouts or walking around empty handed and winging it?
  • What is their style of training?
  • Does their style, and clientele match the goals and results you want?
  • Do they hold onto their clients or always have new ones? (this is a bad sign) 

Keep in mind, they could be a great trainer, but just don’t specialize in what you want done. That doesn’t make them bad. Everyone tends to have their niche. So take some time to ask the management who has the most experience with what you may be looking for. If you can, talk to that client after their session and ask them how they like that trainer.

Sign Up for a Free Assessment and See How they Critique You

Are they noting and asking about previous injuries? They should be taking you through movements and questionnaires that allow them to get a better overall picture of you as a person. They should be asking about your previous experience, current goals, limitations, etc. It’s a red flag if they just put you straight on a resistance training routine, squatting and deadlifting without any assessment. Also make sure they aren’t throwing weird, high intensity, quick workouts to try and get you to sweat and impress you. Working out hard doesn’t always mean it’s a good workout. Having you do all these cool looking exercises doesn’t make them a good trainer either. In fact, most of the time, it means they’re probably inexperienced.

Any good trainer should be very hands-on, asking a ton of questions, and invested in you as a potential client. It’s their job to get results, and get the best out of their clients. If they are sloppy, and don’t track anything, how can you expect to get what you want? Don’t be afraid to ask questions, and make sure their personality matches with someone you want to work with for an extended period of time.

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Joe Talarico

Joe is a certified Precision Nutrition and strength & conditioning coach. He assisted the UCLA Women’s Tennis team in winning their 2014 NCAA Championship Title, as well as study under the great strength coaches at Pepperdine University. He was a collegiate rower at the University of Rhode Island (where he got his Kinesiology degree) as well as an amateur physique competitor. He is currently the master trainer at Upgrade Labs in Santa Monica where he is combining his years of training clients in the gym with newer technology to optimize their performance and recovery. He also cohosts The RelationSH*T Show Podcast with his fiancée where they discuss all relationship topics unfiltered from who pays on dates, to open relationships.

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