Updated: Feb 27
How To Hire a Personal Trainer
The fitness industry is an unregulated industry and you'll find that trainers have extremely varied levels of education, knowledge, and experience. This can often make it confusing to know what qualifications to look for when hiring a professional to help design you a personalized fitness program. What your current level of fitness is, your affordability, as well as your health history, can also be important deciding factors.
As the previous Director of Training at a large downtown luxury fitness club, it was my job to hire the best possible trainers in the industry. Here are my expert tips for what to look out for in order to hire the most best, most qualified personal trainer.
6 Tips on How To Hire a Personal Fitness Coach
1. Education and Certifications
Many Trainers may have a formal university education receiving a BA in exercise science, or in kinesiology, or they may have an associates degree specific to personal training. For other trainers, much of their education comes from certifications, courses, self-study, or through mentorship.
I've seen top notch trainers educated by all of the above categories, however, I would say that the best most well rounded trainers are the ones who keep up to date with their education and who have a wide variety of certifications and courses under their belts. The thing with exercise science is that it is always changing - there are always new methodologies to learn, and old ones ready to be discarded.
Well rounded trainers have solid knowledge about different training protocols and methodologies and know how to apply them. They understand biomechanics, fitness psychology , special populations (pregnancy, medical conditions, elderly), and are comfortable working with injuries - even better, they have training in nutrition as well.
Be sure to ask what education and training your potential trainer has and don't be afraid to ask to see their credentials. Most certifying bodies require trainers to complete 20 Continuing Education Credits (CEUs) every 2 years in order to keep their certifications valid, so make sure you check the date on their credentials as well.
If you are someone of a special population (pregnancy, medical condition etc.), or looking for a specific style of training (bodybuilding, power lifting, running, etc), or training for a specific sport, check to make sure that their specialization certificates match your specific needs.
For example, if you are pregnant, you may want to choose a trainer who has taken courses in pre and postnatal exercise design instead of hiring a trainer who specializes in power lifting let's say! Many trainers end up focusing on a specific niche type of training so always have a read of their bio first to see if they'd be a good match to your goals.
2. Years of Experience
How many years a trainer has been working in the fitness industry can be an important deciding factor. Most of the gyms I have worked at in the past required trainers to have a minimum of 2 years of experience - this isn't an uncommon requirement at many fitness facilities.
I personally have been in the fitness industry for 16 years now, and 100%, I am a much better trainer now than when I first began. When I first became a trainer I knew nothing about injuries, I didn't feel as comfortable or as knowledgeable working with special populations, I was dusty when it came to biomechanics, and my programs were far less creative as I didn't know as many exercise variations, or training methodologies to be able to explore with.
But the catch 22 here is that experienced trainers, are also much more expensive. If you're looking for a more affordable training option, you may have to scale back when it comes to the experience level of your trainer.
I don't recommend this if you fall under a special population, have a lot of health issues or injuries, or if you're looking for help with more specific and advanced lifting techniques & training methodologies. If your situation isn't overly complicated however, don't hesitate to hire someone with less experience - you absolutely can find awesome novice trainers who are highly knowledgeable.
If you're not comfortable scaling back on the experience level of your potential trainer, you may want to opt for semi-private training which can make fitness training with a highly experienced trainer a much more affordable option.
One of the things I see often see gyms do very wrong is that they set up a new trainee with a trainer whose personality type just doesn't match. This happened to me one of the first times I ever hired a trainer for myself.
When I was 19, I used to see these beautiful fit female trainers at my gym with these amazing bodies who specialized in training women for figure competitions. I hired a trainer because I wanted to look like them, train like them, and train with them. However, I was matched up with a 50 year old male trainer who specialized in track and field. He was out of shape, kept pushes me to do things I didn't want to do, in ways that I didn't find motivating (yelling at me), he stood me up on a few sessions, and we had nothing in common.
I didn't look forward to my sessions, and I eventually just stopped going, even though I had pre purchased a training package. This was not a match made in heaven and I was happier to have lost my money than to ever see him again.
The second trainer I had however was a young male bodybuilder - He was fit and funny, and he understood that I wanted to train like one of those fitness girls. He even made me a nutrition program that catered to my extreme food pickiness. I always looked forward to our sessions, and although my glutes were always burning - I would hate when the sessions were over because of how much I liked spending time with him.
His motivation techniques made me want to do more, and I was seeing the results I was looking for. I couldn't have asked for a better trainer - he was exactly what wanted and needed and made me feel more than comfortable in the gym. We could have absolutely been friends outside of the gym.
While you don't always need to be besties with your trainer - having a solid personality match can really help with motivation, especially if you're someone who typically doesn't typically enjoy exercise.
While us trainers may have the all of the experience, knowledge, or even personality in world on paper, you may want to review your potential trainers client testimonials. Don't just take their word for it, see what their past clients have to say about them.
Maybe you're looking for a specific personality type, or a you have a specific injury you're working with, or you want to train for a fitness competition - reading reviews can be helpful to see if your trainer has experience & success with training someone in similar shoes as you.
Expect to pay a minimum of $50 per session if you plan on hiring an experienced and qualified fitness trainer.
An important factor to weigh in on when hiring a coach is the cost. Typically in big cities across Canada PT rates at fitness clubs range from $50-$125 per session. For in-home training, it's usually more since the trainer is traveling to your home. Rates vary based on the trainers level of education, and years of experience.
Often times when I am doing my own marketing I will come across advertisements of people offering in-home training sessions for $20-$30 per session. I would absolutely be HIGHLY weary of hiring a trainer who is charging so little for their services. To me this screams that this person is under qualified, may be inexperienced, may not be able to get a job at gym for some unknown reason, and likely doesn't have insurance.
What harm can it do to hire someone who isn't properly qualified? Well, in the wrong hands, exercise instruction can be dangerous and can lead to serious injury. What concerns me about in-home training is that you don't have a fitness club who has essentially pre-screened a trainers credentials and now you are opening the door to your home, your wallet, and your body to them.
Expect to pay a minimum of $50 per session if you plan on hiring an experienced and qualified fitness professional. Make sure there are contracts involved if you are purchasing a package, and that you receive an invoice from them.
If you want a trainer, but it isn't an affordable for you to see someone on a regular basis, consider hiring a trainer just for monthly program design, or opt for joining an affordable online training program instead.
Location. Location. Location. This can make or break your results. Chose a training studio or gym that is a convenient point between your work and home. Since we're located in a big city like Edmonton, you have a lot of different gyms and private studios available to you so make sure you choose one that is easy for you to get to.
If you're seeing your trainer after work - choose a place to train that is the direction of your home. If you have to travel 15 minutes in the opposite direction, you will be less likely to go. If you can't see yourself making it to a gym, or studio - Opt to hire a trainer that's willing to travel to you and train with you in your home.
Spend time, do the research, and if it doesn't work out on the first go with a trainer - don't give up. You may have to squat with a few frogs first, before you find your prince charming trainer match! 😋 Not sure if you need extra support? Find out more!
Looking for a kickass experienced & knowledgeable trainer in Edmonton? I can be your girl! Holla at me and let's get you started. Check out my site for a list of all of my services which includes in-home training, gym training, online training, and affordable monthly memberships for my online fitness program.