How To Choose A Personal Trainer

Health & Dietician Blog


If you’re trying to lose weight you probably thought about enlisting the help of a personal trainer.

However, with the vast amount of PTs out there, many people ask themselves on “how to choose a personal trainer”.

If you’re serious about achieving long-term results, you need to make sure you choose the right personal trainer, because the one you choose will determine your results.

Unfortunately, many people choose the wrong personal trainer because they base their decision on the wrong stuff— things that aren’t going to get them the results they’re looking for.

Before we tell you what you should look for in a personal trainer, we want to highlight the red flags that indicate you’re heading in the wrong direction.

Red flags: What to avoid when choosing a personal trainer

When you start looking for a personal trainer, it’s common to kick off the search with a simple Google query like ‘personal trainer near me.’ However, it’s essential to note that proximity doesn’t always guarantee quality.

As we’ll show, finding the right trainer is more about their expertise than their location. Let’s dive into why your trainer’s suitability matters more than their distance from you.

(1) Financial Aspects

After considering the location, the cost of a personal trainer’s services often plays a big role in the decision-making process.

Yet, it’s crucial to understand that affordability doesn’t always ensure the outcomes you’re aiming for. In fact, choosing a cheaper personal trainer can often reduce the likelihood of achieving your desired results.

(2) Bodybuilding Competition Experienced Trainers

Participating in bodybuilding competitions can be a genuine goal for those dedicated to athleticism. However, assuming that a personal trainer who competes automatically excels in training is a common misconception. In reality, trainers focused on competitions may not be optimal instructors.

Their emphasis on willpower, motivation, strict dietary rules, and restrictions to achieve results often overshadows the importance of cultivating sustainable habits. Moreover, their inconsistent habits can lead to a perpetual cycle of chasing competitions rather than fostering enduring lifestyle changes, limiting their ability to guide you effectively.

Some personal trainers engage in bodybuilding competitions to combat imposter syndrome, seeking validation. Unfortunately, a collection of trophies doesn’t necessarily indicate exceptional training prowess. The skills required for competitive success differ from those needed to guide individuals effectively on personal journeys.

(3) Credentials

Ensuring your personal trainer possesses the right skills and credentials is crucial, but it’s essential to understand that correlation is not causation. Simply having numerous qualifications doesn’t guarantee they can help you achieve your desired results.

Many trainers accumulate certifications to mask imposter syndrome, lacking the experience of working with clients, which is vital for effective guidance. In contrast, a doctor with a decade of practical experience may offer more insight than someone continually gaining qualifications.

If you’re a personal trainer grappling with imposter syndrome, consider exploring our Fit Pro Business Mentorship Program to bridge the gap between certifications and practical expertise.

(4) Perfection

Is your potential personal trainer showcasing flawless images of perfectly sculpted abs or ‘before and after’ snapshots featuring picture-perfect meals on their social media feed?

While these visuals may be appealing, trainers fixated on appearance often struggle with eating disorders and an unhealthy relationship with food, managing these issues through sheer willpower. However, if this is their primary expertise, it’s also the limit of what they can offer you.

Consider the individuals in the ‘before’ and ‘after’ images. How have they sustained their progress? Rapid results through strict diets and intense exercise are achievable, but the real success lies in maintaining these outcomes over the long haul.

Relying solely on willpower, motivation, and the pursuit of flawlessness often falls short of yielding lasting effects. For a deeper understanding, explore our blog posts: ‘Balancing Willpower and Habits,’ ‘The Limits of Weight Loss Motivation,’ and ‘Overcoming Weight Loss Plateaus Despite Striving for Perfection.

(5) A Jack (or Jill) Of All Trades

If the personal trainer you’re considering claims to train ‘everyone,’ they might not be the right fit for you.

Trainers without a specialization or niche often use a one-size-fits-all approach, providing generic programs that may not consider your unique situation. For a more personalized experience, it’s beneficial to choose a trainer with a specific focus or expertise.

(6) A Focus On Exercise And Nutrition

This common approach is adopted by many personal trainers, but unfortunately, it’s ineffective.

If the personal trainer you’re considering emphasizes increasing exercise, step count, calorie restriction, food limitations, rigid meal plans, or endorses detoxes and cleanses, it’s advisable to explore alternative directions.

This methodology lacks efficacy, and you can delve into the reasons in our blog post titled ‘Why Prioritizing Nutrition and Fitness as Your Primary Weight Loss Focus is Misguided.’

(7) A PT Who Hides

Many personal trainers tend to stay out of the public eye, avoiding active participation on social media.

If they do engage, they often prefer platforms like Instagram, where visibility is somewhat reduced, and exposure to criticism is minimized. On these platforms, they use hashtags to seek validation through likes and engagement.

Your search, however, should lead you to a personal trainer who consistently steps forward, openly sharing their beliefs and values. Unfortunately, many trainers grapple with self-comparison and worry about external opinions, causing them to withdraw. Consider this: How can someone who struggles with their own identity effectively guide you in cultivating confidence and embracing authenticity?

Always remember that successful models leave behind valuable cues.

(8) 6-12 Week Challenges

Personal trainers organizing 6-12 week challenges may prioritize financial gain over your well-being. The reality is, these short-term challenges can’t effectively address the ingrained habits and mindset that contributed to your initial weight gain.

Relying on such challenges for lasting weight loss is ultimately a futile endeavor. For more insights on this matter, check out our blog post titled ‘The Imani Difference: Our Approach Beyond Diets, Exercise, and 12-Week Challenges.’

(9) Inconsistency

Personal trainers who inconsistently adjust their training or nutritional guidance based on fleeting trends lack the ability to effectively help you achieve lasting weight loss.

In the realm of weight loss, consistency is pivotal. Explore this principle in detail in our blog post titled ‘Mastering Weight Loss Consistency: A Guide.’

(10) People Pleasers

Many individuals turn to personal trainers hoping for a motivational ‘push’ to enhance exercise consistency. While trainers often oblige, this approach may not yield desired outcomes.

Trainers may fear that declining such requests could lead clients to abandon their services, inadvertently sustaining habits contributing to weight issues. However, those who prioritize pleasing others struggle to drive transformation through candid discussions, often prioritizing client satisfaction and nurturing existing habits.

Trainers adopting this approach may prioritize maintaining your contentment and financial commitment over facilitating genuine progress. For your betterment, it’s prudent to consider moving on from such trainers. Explore further insights in our blog post titled ‘Struggling with Overweight Due to People-Pleasing? Delve Deeper.’

Green lights: What to look for when choosing a personal trainer

“Now that you’re aware of the red flags to avoid, let’s turn our attention to the positive aspects you should actively seek out—the indicators of promise.

(1) Success leaves clues

Imagine building a house – you wouldn’t trust someone without experience in construction. The same principle applies when choosing a personal trainer. Achieving progress means aligning with a trainer who has walked in your shoes, understands your challenges, and can guide you past them.

So, it’s crucial to choose a personal trainer who has achieved the goals you aim for, triumphed over similar obstacles, and can offer valuable insights. For a deeper understanding, explore our blog post titled ‘Unveiling Clues to Success: A Guiding Principle.’

(2) Someone who is a specialist

Personal trainers without specialization often use a one-size-fits-all approach, which falls short in providing sustainable weight loss solutions. This is because strategies effective for a 25-year-old male may not yield the same results for a 50-year-old female.

On the other hand, trainers with specializations, whether in training athletes, aiding rehabilitation, or guiding new mothers, showcase greater competence and earn higher trust in their expertise. At Imani Tribe Transformations, our specialization revolves around transforming habits and mindsets, fostering personal growth, and achieving enduring weight loss.

When considering expertise, think of it this way – if faced with the need for brain surgery, would you consult a general practitioner or a neurosurgeon? For those aspiring to excel as specialist personal trainers, we offer our Fit Pro Business Mentorship Program for application.

(3) Empathetic Without Enabling

An ideal personal trainer should show empathy and be capable of engaging in challenging discussions with you, all in the pursuit of helping you achieve your desired outcomes. Many people are drawn to trainers who align with their existing identity and provide comfort through encouragement.

However, as comforting as this may be, it often falls short of yielding genuine results. It’s crucial to avoid trainers who prioritize pleasing others and, instead, seek out those who empower you to institute enduring transformation.

(4) Authentic

Make it a priority to find a personal trainer who embodies authenticity and genuineness. Look for someone who doesn’t strive for an air of flawlessness, refrains from photo filters, and abstains from promoting unrealistic ideals in diet or exercise.

Seek an individual who resonates with being their true selves. Establishing a sincere connection with an authentic person tends to yield more effective outcomes. For deeper insights into the futility of perfection, explore our blog post ‘Why Consistency Over 52 Imperfect Weeks Trumps 6 Weeks of Perfection in Weight Loss.’

(5) A Master Of Habits

In the realm of sustained weight loss, it’s imperative to confront the habits and mindset that contributed to initial weight gain. Relying solely on willpower and motivation to alter behaviors often proves insufficient.

For a deeper exploration of this concept, check out our blog posts titled ‘Distinguishing Between Habits and Behavior’ and ‘The Underlying Solution to Bodyweight Challenges Lies Beyond Actions.’ A practitioner who relies on willpower and motivation for outcomes lacks the capacity to guide you in effectively mastering and transcending the habits that triggered weight gain.

Consequently, when the influence of willpower wanes, as it inevitably does, one may regress and regain lost weight. To achieve enduring results, your best bet is to choose a personal trainer who has honed their own habits, thereby imparting the skillset necessary to conquer your own.

(6) A System

A great personal trainer is someone with an evergreen system that allows clients to train and progress, regardless of external circumstances. During lockdowns associated with the global pandemic, commercial gyms were shut, and many personal trainers couldn’t continue training their clients.

However, all clients with Imani Tribe Transformation could continue their training at home thanks to our system. For more insights on the importance of a system, check out our blog ‘Why a Weight Loss Goal is Bullshit Without a Weight Loss System.’

(7) Has A Good Relationship With Food

To lose weight and maintain it, building a positive relationship with food is crucial. This process can take time, especially if you’ve had a challenging relationship with food for a while.

The issue with many personal trainers is that they themselves struggle with their relationship with food. This might lead them to engage in fasting, fad diets, meal replacements, or even cheat days. If the trainer you’re working with doesn’t have a healthy relationship with food, they may struggle to guide you in developing one. For more insights on feeling free around food, check out our blog ‘How to Build a Good Relationship with Food.’

(8) Content And Resources For Support

Consider whether the potential personal trainer is creating original content or simply re-sharing from others, which can be repetitive or conflicting. At Imani Tribe Transformations, we take pride in delivering unique, carefully curated content, along with a suite of tools and resources to support our clients at every stage of their transformative journey.

Our offerings include a variety of blogs, exclusive member content, an interactive app, a dedicated members-only zone, a private Facebook community, and our exclusive DATSTM Habit and Accountability Tool. Explore our comprehensive array of blog articles and discover the diverse resources we offer.

(9) Goes beyond fitness and nutrition

Weight struggles are often manifestations of deeper personal challenges encompassing habits, mindset, identities, beliefs, and fears. Effectively addressing these underlying issues is the key to weight loss, rather than relying solely on the conventional approach of diet and exercise, as advocated by the diet industry.

For a comprehensive understanding of this perspective, I encourage you to explore our blog titled ‘Why food and exercise won’t help you lose weight.

(10) Focuses on habit and mindset coaching

Training with a personal trainer should prioritize habit and mindset coaching over solely focusing on exercise or nutrition for weight loss. This coaching should also include guidance on habits related to metabolic blockers like alcohol, stress, and sleep. Even if you’re exercising and eating well, these three factors can derail your results.

Learn more about them in the following blogs: ‘Alcohol and Weight Gain: 9 Ways Drinking Affects Your Body Shape,’ ‘How Stress and Weight Gain are Linked,’ and ‘Sleep and Weight Loss: The Unexpected Connection.’

(11) Employs smart programming

For lasting weight loss, it’s crucial to embrace a comprehensive training regimen beyond solely focusing on exhaustive cardio workouts for calorie depletion. Plan your training with precision, assigning specific days and times for sessions targeting individual muscle groups. Incorporate periodization and gradual progression, while also allowing for structured rest intervals.

Prioritize resistance training, include a moderate amount of cardiovascular exercise, and complement these with low-intensity activities like walking, swimming, or cycling. A well-rounded approach should not only focus on strength but also on flexibility, mobility, and stability. For further insights into the optimal training program, check out our blog post ‘How to Effectively Exercise for Weight Loss Beyond 40.’

(12) Personalized Programming

Look for a personal trainer who can create a personalized regimen tailored to your goals and current circumstances. This individualized plan should take into account your objectives, current status, obstacles related to habits and attitudes, your movement capabilities and constraints, as well as any historical or ongoing injuries.

This bespoke program should also evolve alongside your progress.

(14) Sets boundaries

Setting clear boundaries in your life is crucial for successful weight loss and maintenance. Establishing boundaries provides structure and a guide on what actions to take or avoid for continued progress. However, someone without boundaries may struggle to guide you in setting your own.

Look for examples of boundaries in your personal trainer, such as set training times and designated hours for phone calls or client consultations. If your trainer is available at all hours, it may indicate a lack of boundary-setting skills. Learn more about this in our blog ‘Forget Diets and Food Rules: Try This Weight Loss Tip Instead.’

(15) Has long-term clients

When choosing a personal trainer, assess their track record with long-term clients and the duration of those relationships. If the potential trainer has a substantial list of individuals who’ve come and gone, especially within a 12-week timeframe, it’s a clear indication that they may not be providing the necessary support or fostering an environment conducive to achieving sustained results.

This suggests a preference for quick fixes over genuine assistance. The duration a personal trainer spends working with clients directly correlates with their expertise, exposing them to diverse aspects and phases of the weight loss journey, enabling them to address a multitude of challenges. For instance, trainers engaging with clients for only 6-12 weeks may be limited in handling issues that commonly arise at the 6 and 12-month marks.

To delve deeper into these insights, our blog post titled ‘Gaining Insights from Our Extensive Work with Long-Term Clients in Weight Loss’ offers an illuminating perspective often overlooked by most personal trainers.

(16) Cost

Contrary to popular belief, cost should be one of the last factors you consider. Choosing based on cheap pricing can end up being expensive, as you may not get the desired results and could find yourself trapped in the diet cycle for longer, making weight loss even more challenging. Learn more about what you get with Imani Tribe Transformations on our pricing page.

(17) Location

Truly, if you find a personal trainer who meets all the criteria mentioned earlier, location shouldn’t be a concern. As a global online coaching business with flexible programming, our Global Online DATSTM Program allows us to train individuals anywhere in the world. So, no matter where you are, location isn’t a barrier if you choose to train with us.

The final word

When choosing a personal trainer, focus on finding someone who can help raise your awareness of inhibiting habits and mindset. Look for a trainer who can provide you with essential knowledge, structured methods, effective tools, and skills to consistently progress in your weight loss journey.

Instead of depending solely on motivation and willpower, the emphasis should be on addressing your habits. By doing so, you’ll reduce the reliance on motivation and willpower, allowing weight loss to naturally fall into place.

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