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Fitness Articles  ›  Exercise Basics

How to Choose a Personal Trainer

Things to Consider Before Making the Investment

-- By Jen Mueller, Certified Personal Trainer
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Although there are many reputable trainers out there who know what they are doing, there are also those who don't. Here are two common warning signs to look for that will tell you if this trainer is one to avoid.

The first "red flag" is a trainer who tries to sell you supplements of any kind. Many trainers earn commission for the products they sell, which could be a conflict of interest. Unless your goal is to become a professional bodybuilder, you should be able to get all of the nutrients you need from a healthy diet (and perhaps a daily multi-vitamin). The average person does not need protein powders, energy drinks and other supplements to help them succeed.  Find a trainer who isn't going to push these kinds of products.

Just because someone is a personal trainer does not mean they are qualified to give advice about your diet. Many will call themselves "nutritionists," but that does not mean they have a degree or any formal training in this area. In fact, the only person legally qualified to give specific diet advice is a Registered Dietitian. If your trainer is creating meal plans for you that are outside of the guidelines of the Food Guide Pyramid, that is illegal. Be careful when getting nutritional advice from a trainer. If you need help with your diet, consult a Registered Dietitian.


In general, hiring a trainer can be a good way to make your workouts more enjoyable, effective and targeted to your specific needs. It's important to do your homework before hiring someone to make sure you get the expertise you're paying for. Then you're more likely to be satisfied with your investment and will be one step closer to reaching your health and fitness goals!

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About The Author

Jen Mueller Jen Mueller
Jen received her master's degree in health promotion and education from the University of Cincinnati. A mom and avid marathon runner, she is a certified personal trainer, certified health coach and advanced health & fitness specialist. See all of Jen's articles.

Member Comments

  • I was wondering are there personal trainer the are especially qualified for specific problems. You See I have spurs in my feet, knees, hips, and spine. I also have carbo tunnel in my hands, I have 2 deteriorating disks in my back, and a twisted spine. I also have sciatic nerve problems, and neuropathy, and no I am not a diabetic, and arthritis. I do suffer from a lot of pain and stiffness. I don't mean this as complaining, but are there personnel trainer that can help you loose weight but understand what is the best program for Someone like me. I was okayed by my doctor for low or no impact exercising? Also are there personal trainer who are physical therapists, and dietitons also? - 6/10/2014 3:09:02 AM
  • KARIM0102
    Training has a large amount of physical benefits besides the actual psychological types. A few of these advantages range from the subsequent:

    Improved breathing
    Flexibility
    Strength
    Pain prevention
    Muscle tone

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    yBePilates - 8/13/2013 9:20:41 AM
  • After joining the gym I belong to I found out I had breast cancer and they where nice enough to put my membership on hold until after my treatments were over. But then I realized that it was different then any gym I had belonged to before, machines I had never used before for one thing. So as I had gained weight while going through the treatments the first thing I did was take a "biggest looser" class with a trainer at the gym, it not only helped me with my weight loss but during the class duration she showed us how to use the machines. I have since taken not only several more classes of one type or another from her but a few one on one sessions to make sure I was doing the moves right and using the machines right so I wasn't going to hurt myself. It wasn't money I wanted to spend but as I wanted to get the most out of my work outs I believe its money well spent. I'm 67 years old and want to be in the best shape I can be in FOR ME. - 6/9/2013 6:23:59 PM
  • DARRENKHALAF
    This article gives anyone considering personal training excellent advice about personal trainer.Choosing the right one is SO important. They have a variety at my gym.Thanks for posting - 4/24/2013 7:41:39 PM
  • FITNESSGURU65
    This was a good article, buts its missing the certification organization IFPA. I am a 65 year old personal trainer and have been certified with IFPA for many years. Every IFPA trainer I have come across is very knowledgeable and successful. I have taken not just their personal trainer but Senior Fitness Certification and Special Populations Trainer Certification. Its a great company. If your looking for a trainer, I would highly recommend and IFPA trainer anyday. www.ifpa-fitness.
    com - 4/16/2013 1:11:34 PM
  • LYLABURNS123
    I've been looking into a personal training nyc program for my husband and I. http://www.sculpt
    -newyork.com We typically just work out together when we can, but I think it would be good for us to get a trainer together. Thanks for sharing! - 6/19/2012 10:37:51 AM
  • JAYKOS
    This article gives anyone considering personal training excellent advice, however please consider that this is a USA site and in the Uk personal trainers are usually found through the National Register of Personal Trainers or Register of exercise Professionals, but please check Qualifications having a sports science degree does not mean that individuals are vocationally qualified as Personal trainers. For qualifications you can check with awarding bodies such as CYQ or Active IQ, - 2/6/2011 4:10:10 PM
  • ALEXANDRA64
    Personal trainers are out of my financial range but if you are determined enough, they will work things out for you. They did for me and though I would like to work with mine twice a week, once a week is what we worked out for what I can afford. Choosing the right one is SO important. They have a variety at my gym. The conventional way of working out was not working for me and I was fortunate to meet someone who was an expert in functional training. Not only did he help me completely restructure my fitness ideas but also helped me do a complete overhaul of what I eat. He also is a massage therapist... *bonus*!!! I know nearly everything about lifting weights since I used to body build so needed someone who thinks outside the box. I found the perfect trainer by recommendation from the gym owner AFTER I asked a zillion questions. So don't be afraid to ask everything, even the stupidest question. It will all lead to getting you matched up with the right person. Personal training has changed my life. I can't imagine not having it anymore!! - 1/8/2011 6:16:30 AM
  • Thanks for the guidance. I use the trainer my gym recommended, and it has worked out well. I was lucky. Next time I'll know what to look for. - 3/5/2010 9:43:03 AM
  • DARRIN8
    I'm a personal trainer. and that was a very good article. One other thing you need to mention is if they don't look like trainer's, carry themselves as professional's when they speak to you, give you a small blue print of what to expexct. You could do better without one. But, if you have a specific fitness goal in mine and you are not getting the results by all means GET a good trainer. - 2/15/2010 7:52:46 PM
  • Oh yeah..."bubbly personality" is not a trait I am looking for...LOL.
    We have butted heads on more than a few occasions but without the accountability and knowing that in the end he gets results, I would not have had the success I have enjoyed.
    - 2/20/2009 6:08:37 AM
  • I started with a personal trainer last year. It is by far the best investment I ever made.
    My eating habits have changed, I have lean muscles and have lost over 35 pounds and inches. It can sometimes be a love-hate relationship because even though I work out hard by myself, I am pushed to the max when I am with my pt. I also am confident that my form is correct and I have reduced the possibility of injury. I would have never tried free weights on my own and it is now my favorite part of my work out routine. Great article. - 2/20/2009 6:06:21 AM
  • AZHIKERCHICK
    Three weeks ago I started working with a trainer and I'm SO glad I invested the money. Invested? Yes, because I see it as an investment in my goals. He motivates me, pushes me harder than I would push myself and helps me stay accountable. It isn't cheap, but I adjusted my budget to make up for it. - 1/26/2009 3:44:16 PM
  • One of the best articles on Spark. The reality is that personal trainers vary widely in their experience, ability, training and competence. I thought it was interesting that on the poll people ranked a "fun personality" as the number one reason they would hire a personal trainer! Forget it! I need someone who knows how to get my body to give me the results that I need -- not a bubbly companion! - 10/2/2008 12:21:15 PM
  • Great article. - 5/4/2008 9:14:10 PM
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