Since originating in California, working out with a personal trainer (PT) has shown to be quite beneficial for many people. That being said, there are different trainers for different fitness needs, whether it be building muscle, losing body fat, or training for a specific sport.

The question is- how do you work with a personal trainer in order to achieve maximum fitness benefit? The jargon that is frequently thrown around referring to positive fitness benefits is “results” or “gains”. In order to achieve said “results” you actually have to have an idea as to what “results” you are trying to achieve. Consulting with a personal trainer can aid you in choosing a specific fitness goal with a plan to achieve it.

Although many people hire a personal trainer just to say they have a “trainer”, as it is fashionable and gives the impression of being a serious fitness enthusiast, delusion and unrealistic expectations are not uncommon in the fitness industry. We can thank infomercials, Instagram and charlatans altogether for this. Knowing the ins-and-outs of working with a quality PT will make better use of your money. Once you have a better idea as to what to expect when working with a quality personal trainer, you will be better off in finding a trainer that’s a perfect match for you.

So if you don’t know where to start, here is a somewhat comprehensive list you will need to keep in mind in order to choose the best personal trainer for you.

WHAT’S THEIR EDUCATION BACKGROUND?
Education is varied when it comes to becoming a personal trainer. Some people will have a master’s degree in Exercise Physiology, for example, while others may just have one certification from the YMCA. In North America, there are a few governing bodies when it comes to obtaining certification courses; for example, Can-fit-pro (Canadian Fitness professional) in Canada, as well as NASM (National Academy of Sports Medicine) and ACE (American Council on Exercise) in the United States.

DO THEY HAVE ANY EXPERIENCE?
Education without experience is not a good combo when looking for a personal trainer. It’s similar to getting financial advice from a banker who just graduated school- you’ll get lots of school jargon without any real world advice. I’s always best to work with a trainer who has enough education and experience.

WHAT’S THEIR SPECIALTY?
Because, the fitness industry is an ever changing market that gets saturated quite easily, trainers have specialized in different areas in order to dominate a trendy/ niche market; it could be training with TRX, boxing, posture work, post-rehabilitation, running, calisthenics, Pilates, Yoga. Etc.

WHAT TYPE OF FACILITY DO THEY WORK OUT OF?
Some trainers work out of a big chain gym, while others work out of an independent/boutique gym. Whether you want to train at home, outside or in a condo gym, you need to inquire as to whether the PT can accommodate you.

ARE THEY A PART-TIME OR FULL-TIME TRAINER?
Some trainers have other jobs and train people part time, while other trainers work full time in the business, and work personal training as a business. It doesn’t necessarily mean that one type of trainer is better than the other, however treating training people as a business may show a little more commitment to client satisfaction.

HOW MUCH DOES THE TRAINER CHARGE?
Trainers with more experience under their belt tend to charge more for one-on-one personal training than beginner PT’s. However, if you are looking for a better bang for your buck, or you don’t like the constant direct attention on you, you may opt for small group personal training. Ideally, the trainer will group many people with the same goals together.

ONLINE (VIRTUAL) TRAINING
If you are self-motivated to work out, you may just need an online trainer/coach, where you will “check” in on a regular basis, get a “refresh” on your program, or possibly a new program altogether. The price is way cheaper, plus you are not limited by where you live when choosing your PT. This can be a slippery slope, however, so buyer beware, as anyone can call themselves an online trainer-all you need is a social media following.

WHERE TO FIND A PERSONAL TRAINER (PT)
Personal trainers are very ubiquitous nowadays, so it can be easy to find prospective trainers, depending on what you are looking for.
At your local gym- Either the gym matches new clients with trainer, or you can meet directly with them on the gym floor, or they rent office space within the gym
Via social media-There’s Google (type in personal trainer, your city); a Blog, YouTube Channel, Facebook or Instagram page, etc. Some certifying agencies have a trainer listing on their site to easily search for trainers certified by them (e.g.: canfitpro.com /ACEfitness.org)
Since the personal trainer market is super saturated, trainers need to spend time marketing themselves in order to get a good stream of prospects that could lead to clients.

HOW OFTEN SHOULD YOU TRAIN WITH A PERSONAL TRAINER?
Accountability is a two-way street, meaning the client need to be just as accountable for their own success as the trainer. Unfortunately, a lot of training services involves some form of “kindergarten” or “babysitting services for grown adults, as clients are not held accountable for their progress. This is fine, if that is what you are looking for.
If you train with a trainer only once a week, and don’t work out on your own, the chances of you injuring yourself due to overuse/ overtraining or bad form is a lot less, however your improvements or “gains” may be non-existent. Working out on your own, plus consulting with a trainer once or twice a week is an example of a good game plan for continual fitness progress.