Finding The Right Trainer

Finding the right trainer/coach can be the key to success or failing in your chosen goals when first choosing the right person for you.

If you want to lose weight, get fit, compete in a bodybuilding competition or participate in a marathon, getting the right trainer can be the best way to exercise.

A personal trainer should be able to set up a training programme that helps you reach your goals in a safe and effective way. Teaching you the best way to exercise for your chosen goals.

It can be a little confusing has some people will find that one particular person is amazing but others might find they did not quite gel with his or her ways. Of course its important to get past your own insecurities or blockages if the reason you don't like that person is simply that they are not letting you get away with lying to yourself for e.g not being honest about what you really have eaten that day and wondering why you are not losing weight.

What is a Personal Trainer?

A personal trainer should be, at the least, educated and certified through a reputable fitness organization (see below). This person's job is to assess your fitness level, figure out what your goals are (or help you set goals) set up a program and keep you motivated. He or she will push you past your comfort level--something difficult to do on your own. A trainer also provides:


  • Guidance on reaching your goals
  • Education about strength training, cardio and basic nutrition
  • A reason to show up at the gym each week
  • Accountability
  • Helps track your progress 

What to expect in the session?

Each session usually lasts about an hour. The first meeting should be devoted to assessing fitness level, body measurements, exercise and health history and goals. Be prepared to step on the scale, have your body fat tested and answer specific questions about your goals. After that, you'll spend each session doing cardio, weight training, flexibility or other activities depending on what your goals are. Your trainer will show you how to do the exercises, help you figure out how much weight to use and give you pointers for getting the most out of each exercise.

What to Look for In a Personal Trainer?

  • Education: A personal trainer should be certified through a reputable personal training organization. An exercise science or other related college degree isn't necessary, but the more education your trainer has, the better your workouts will be.
  • CPR: your trainer should have an updated certification in CPR and/or first aid.
  • Experience: Make sure your trainer has experience, especially in relation to your goals. For example, if you're a bodybuilder, you want someone knowledgeable in that area.
  • Specifics: If you have a specific medical problem, injury or condition (such as being pregnant, heart problems, diabetes, etc.) make sure your trainer has education in these areas and will work with your doctor.
  • A good listener: A good trainer will listen closely to what you say and make sure he understands your goals.
  • Attention: A good trainer will be focused only on you during your sessions.
  • Tracking progress: A good trainer will regularly assess your progress and change things if necessary. 

Personality is important too since you'll be working very closely with this person. Make sure you get along with your trainer and feel comfortable asking questions.

How to Find a Personal Trainer

One place you can look at is on the ANB Personal Trainer Directory in your state or to look is your local gym. Most gyms have personal trainers on staff and offer attractive packages for personal training. You can also look in your yellow pages, use Personal Trainer Finder or IDEA Fitness Connect to find trainers in your area, or search for local personal training studios. The cost will vary depending on where you live and your trainer's experience and education. Typically, the cost will be anywhere from $30 to $100 a session.
At some clubs, you may get assigned a trainer. However here are some other ways that might help you find the right person for you...
  • Get a referral from a friend who's had success in reaching their goals with a personal trainer
  • When you're at the gym, watch trainers with their clients and see how they interact. Make a note of trainers who get along with their clients and seem fully involved in their workouts...that may be a good one to choose.
  • If you do get assigned to a trainer, make sure you tell the manager if you'd prefer a male trainer over a female trainer or vice versa, or if there's anything special you'd like to work on (getting in shape before pregnancy, getting ready for a competition, etc.) so you'll get a trainer with experience in that area. 
  • See our official ANB Personal Trainers here where we have a list of personal trainers in the whole of Australia.
  • Like all professions, personal training has its share of losers. But, just because you're assigned to one trainer doesn't mean you can't work with someone else. It may be a personality conflict or you may wonder if you're getting the best advice. Either way, here are some warning flags that it's time to switch.

Be careful if your trainer does any of the following:

  • Ignores or dismisses your questions
  • Works you so hard you're in pain for days. Soreness is normal, but you should still be able to get out of bed
  • Recommends questionable supplements. Always talk to your doctor before taking anything and if competing in a natural federation checking on the ASADAwebsite.
  • Diagnoses injuries or illnesses instead of referring you to a qualified practitioner
  • Interrupts your session to talk to friends or take phone calls (unless it's an emergency or can't be avoided)
  • Doesn't return phone calls or emails
  • Gives you detailed nutritional advice. If your trainer is also a nutritionist or registered dietitian, that's fine. Otherwise, he or she shouldn't give you more than very basic information about your diet.Not talking during your training session and just concentrating 

A personal trainer should watch you, correct your alignment, and explain what you're doing and why. If you're having problems, talk to them--they may not be aware there's a problem. Another option is to talk to the manager or stop your sessions and look for a different trainer. It's your money and your have a right to get what you want and a good trainer will understand that.

How to Help Your Trainer To Do His Job Well

  • Be prepared before your workout, bringing your own towel and a full water bottle 
  • Give at least 24 hour notice if you need to cancel or reschedule 
  • If you have questions, write them down and bring them to your session--you'll spend less time talking and more time working out 
  • If you have a problem with your trainer, address it immediately 
  • Don't interrupt your trainer when they are with a client. Wait until finished before approaching them 
  • Recognize that your trainer is there to guide you--but you still have to do the work. If you're confused about your progress, or lack thereof, schedule a meeting where you can talk about your concerns. Personal training can help you get closer to your goals, but it isn't a magic bullet