How to Find a Personal Trainer

You don't need a certification to become a personal trainer so, how do you pick a good one? Learn more about how to find a personal trainer by reading this article.

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How to Find a Personal Trainer

The most common way people find local personal training is by Googling “Personal Trainer (City, State)” or "Personal Trainer near me".

For example, "Personal Trainer Columbia, Mo".

You don't need a trainer but, you need a sorting process, should you choose to work with one. Do your research. There are a lot of options, ask good questions.

For example, here are seven ways that you can find a personal trainer:

  1. Use a search engine, like google.
  2. Call or visit your local gyms and private studios.
  3. Ask friends and family.
  4. Check social media channels like Instagram and Facebook.
  5. Your local yellow pages.
  6. Aggregator website listings like,, and
  7. Personal Training Certifications provide forms to confirm credentials on their websites.

Before you do some more searching, let's talk about what to keep in mind when looking for a personal trainer.

When Should I Hire a Personal Trainer?

You should hire a personal trainer when you can afford it and you're ready.

You don't need to have a particular goal, event, or reason for working with a trainer. If you're interested in trying something new, go for it.

Self-Determination Theory (SDT) is one of the leading theories on human motivation.

In SDT, we learn that different people are motivated by different types of rewards:

  • External Regulation - Exercising for a work prize or to get a spouse off of your back.
  • Introjected Regulation - Going to CrossFit all week because your friends will text you if you ghost.
  • Identified Regulation - Working out because you want to be there for your children.
  • Integrated Regulation - Eating well because you feel like "yourself" when you do. It's your form of self care.
  • Intrinsic Motivation - Enjoying the process of training. You might be posting lifting videos on Instagram at this point.

"Motivated" isn't a state of being. Your motivation will change day-to-day.

All motivates matter.

A personal trainer can help you narrow down a specific goal if you deem one necessary.

Where Do You Find a Personal Trainer?

Are you intimidated by a big, loud open gym? Outside of gyms with personal trainers, there are many settings to get your sweat on.

You can find a personal trainer about everywhere you look these days;

  • Large commercial gyms
  • Small group personal training
  • Private training studios
  • In-Home gyms
  • Parks
  • School and university gyms
  • Via Skype or similar means
  • Some travel to your location

Some clients want that big, open, loud environment with all the equipment. You might want something more private. You can get through your insecurities and build up the confidence to go to that sort of gym.

Some personal trainers travel (this is how I got started in Columbia). They will come to your home gym or bring equipment with them.

In your search check out locations (if you want to train in person). Reach out.

Most gym websites will have contact forms for you to fill out or numbers to call. Hopefully, they will get back to you in a reasonable amount of time.

How Do I Choose A Personal Trainer?

Choose the best personal trainer that is certified, affordable (for you), and suited to your personality.

Certification isn't everything but, it helps you check a box. You really can't know if your trainer is good until you start working with them. Following the program closely.

(More on that below)

So how can you know before you get started? If possible, look for social proof.

  • Make sure they hold a credible certification.
  • Read reviews, testimonials, and case studies.
  • Talk to anyone you know that has worked with them.
  • Observe the trainer coaching, if possible.

Make sure that your personality meshes with the trainer you recruit. The two of you will be working together for some time. If your trainer is new in the field, you might lean more on this personality aspect.

Every trainer has a style or way of communicating with clients;

  • Is your trainer the drill sergeant type?
  • Do you like someone who is a little more laid back?
  • Do you want a male or female trainer?

Compare personal trainers based on your personality and preference.

How Do I Know if My Personal Trainer is Good?

You won't know if your trainer is good until after you start working together.

Fitness results compound.

If you're working with a qualified professional, you should be improving at something. Most importantly, the "something" should be directly related to your goals.

Each of us has an individual response to strength training. Your trainer cannot control how well you respond to exercise. Your trainer can only control your direction i.e. do you get better or not?

When you first start exercising, almost anything will get you in better shape.

Your rate of progress will naturally slow but, you should be able to observe some results in 4-12 weeks. Ensure that you give yourself long enough to make an informed decision.

If you can get yourself started, it might be a decent idea to exercise on your own until your rate of progress slows down. A good trainer will be able to help figure out how to move you forward.

Note: You shouldn't ever expect to make progress as quickly as you do when you first start exercising. Those are "beginner gains".

What Does a Good Personal Trainer Do?

A good personal trainer follows a process that includes:

  • Assessing your movement quality.
  • Assigning you a program based on your goals and what you can (and can't) do.
  • Checking in with you to make sure things are going well.
  • Being available to help and answer any questions that arise.

Your trainer should be learning to assess your motivations. Some days you may come in talking about how you're excited to go on vacation. We all have days where we may come in because we need some "me" time.

The relationship with your trainer should grow in quality as you get to know each other better.

What Should You Ask Your Personal Trainer?

When you set out to hire a trainer, you know you should ask some questions but which ones? Try these out for starters.

Here are some of the questions you should ask when you're searching for a trainer:

  • How long is a session?
  • What is included in training sessions?
  • Have you ever worked with someone who has similar goals?
  • How are we going to progress?
  • Do you have a special cancellation policy?
  • How do you teach people? Visually? Verbally? Using tactile feedback?
  • How do you approach nutrition?
  • Are supplements required? (They shouldn't be)
  • What should I do if this turns out to not be a good fit?

You're going to get a wide variety of answers to the above. Trainers work differently depending on the business model they operate under.

Some gyms force trainers to charge additional fees for services including:

  • Videoed form assessments.
  • Nutritional programs and challenges.
  • Email, text, and phone communication.
  • Lifestyle and accountability coaching sessions.
  • Additional workouts that can be done at home.
  • Cardiovascular programming.
  • Stretching sessions.
  • Weigh-ins, measurements, and additional body composition assessments.

Some trainers charge a flat fee and include everything while others work more a la carte.

Check with your trainer to see what services are offered and their costs.

Read this: 4 Counter Intuitive Questions to ask when looking for a personal trainer

How Often Should I See a Personal trainer?

To start, you should see your personal trainer 2-3 times per week.

Once you're comfortable performing exercises consistently, you can make adjustments.

How often you see a personal trainer depends on several things:

  • Your schedule
  • Your ability to learn
  • Your budget
  • Distance
  • Childcare (if needed)

In Strength Training for Beginners, I talk about how often you should exercise. For review, a minimum of twice per week is needed and cited in various textbooks.

Training more often allows you to fit in more volume but everyone has their own ‘goldilocks zone”. In this case, the amount of training that will produce results.

If you have more room in your budget, you might perform more sessions with your trainer. If you pick up skills quickly and have access to everything you need, you might not see your trainer as often.

How Long Should You Have A Personal Trainer?

It depends, each of us responds differently and some goals take more time.

What matters most is consistent practice.

If you're looking to lose half of your body weight, you won't do that in 3 months. If you're looking to get into "better shape", you can pull that off pretty quickly.

How often you exercise is also directly related to this question.

If you’re at a stressful point in life, it’s hard to make progress in the gym.

Keep at it and you will find in the long run that achieving milestones can be very motivating.

Read: How Long Does it Take to See Results with A Personal Trainer?

Does A Personal Trainer Have To Be In Shape?

Your trainer does not have to be "in shape" to be qualified. They only need to be able to demonstrate the exercises they're teaching you.

Like everyone, personal trainers come in all shapes and sizes.

Just like "bulky", "toned" and "fit", "in shape" is very hard to define and varies by preference.

In 2009, Leigh Peele polled 2,000 women online attempting to define what the average population believes to be bulky.

Some interesting points Leigh noted include:

  • The majority of women don’t like the look of muscle on themselves or others.
  • The majority of women think that men prefer the look of a lack of muscle on a woman’s body.
  • The majority felt that Jessica Biel and Hilary Swank (in Million Dollar Baby) define “bulky.”

The full article is very interesting. It adds to the conversation in that it helps demonstrate why you should rely on your own opinion of your appearance over others.

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Here's How to Find a Good Personal Trainer:

Necessary tools and equipment

  • Self-Awareness
  • Time to think
  • Money for training


  1. 1 Get clear on your goals

    What makes you want to hire a trainer?

  2. 2 Decide what size training session fits you.

    One-on-one personal training? Small group? Semi-Private?

  3. 3 Narrow down where you want to train.

    Do you want to go to your trainer or should they come to you?

  4. 4 Check qualifications and reviews.

    Ask the trainer to coach you through an exercise if possible.

  5. 5 Think about the trainer that fits your personality.

    You know what motivates you best.

  6. 6 Ask the right questions.

    Find out what's included and how your trainer will adjust to reach your goals.

  7. 7 If your trainer is good, you'll progress.

    Progress is only meaningful if it's relevant to your goals.

  8. 8 Set a budget.

    Based on how often you can train, how fast you learn, and how lofty your goals are.

  9. 9 Research

    Fill out contact forms, make calls, and schedule a consultation.

This article was originally published on 12/22/20.

Last updated: 8/15/22