How to Find a Good Personal Trainer or Coach: 5 Mistakes to Avoid!

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Before you fork retired immoderate rate for a individual trainer, publication this guide!

It’ll thief you spot nan quality betwixt a bad individual trainer and an AMAZING trainer. 

And spot us, having nan correct trainer tin make ALL nan quality successful nan world.

There’s thing worse than spending 6+ months successful a gym (and thousands of dollars) pinch a trainer, only to recognize that you haven’t made immoderate advancement connected nan goals you person – building muscle, losing weight, etc.


someone singing "The Worst"

I’ve worked pinch bully trainers and bad trainers complete nan past 16 years, person worked pinch nan aforesaid online individual trainer since 2014, and we person a squad of 15 individual trainers connected Team Nerd Fitness who person trained 15,000 1-on-1 clients.

Long communicative short, we cognize our stuff, and we’ll springiness it to you straight.

Whether aliases not you want to cheque retired our 1-on-1 Online Training Program, this guideline is going to thief you pinch each nan details.

In this guideline we’ll screen nan good, nan bad, and nan disfigured erstwhile it comes to individual trainers – some in-person and online:

What do you request from a individual trainer

As Coach Matt explains successful nan video above, nan first mobility you request to inquire erstwhile hiring a individual trainer: do they lucifer up pinch your goals?

And yep, that intends we’re going to person to prime immoderate goals successful nan first place!

So commencement by picking your goals and past find if nan trainer you’re paired up pinch is nan correct fresh for you. Like dating, you tin meet personification who’s astonishing but not correct for you.

A gif of Chandler saying "kill me"

If personification is simply a competitory marathon runner, they mightiness not beryllium a awesome powerlifting coach, and vice versa.

So, commencement pinch your goals for uncovering a individual trainer:

  1. Are you trying to suffer 300 pounds? 20 pounds? Get to 10% assemblage fat?
  2. Are you trying to get stronger aliases clasp your first handstand?
  3. Do you want to go a competitory powerlifter?
  4. Are you looking to run your first 5k?
  5. Do you conscionable want to get successful shape, consciousness better, and enjoy exercise?

These goals will mostly find nan type of trainer you’re looking for.

MISTAKE #1: Not making judge your trainer has expertise successful nan area you want to train in.

Expertise successful 1 area does not needfully make them a bully fresh successful another!

After that, you’ll want to deliberation astir what you NEED from your individual trainer:

  1. Are you looking for a powerlifting coach to show you nan basics (squat, deadlift, bench) truthful your shape is right? Just a fewer sessions up beforehand and a fewer later down nan statement to corroborate you’re connected nan correct way mightiness suffice.
  2. Are you caller to moving retired aliases looking to footwear commencement your first 2 months of training pinch 2 sessions per week to support you disciplined?
  3. What type of personification are you? Do you request much hands-on guidance passim your workouts, aliases much abstraction to return ownership and thrive connected your own? Do you request personification who will cheer you connected aliases do you request reliable emotion from personification to telephone you connected your bullshit?

Once you group due expectations pinch what you want and really agelong you request a trainer for, past you tin prime retired 1 that hopefully will activity for you.

How to find a bully individual trainer

A individual trainer stretching retired a client.

Once you find a trainer you are considering moving with, nan adjacent measurement should ever beryllium an in-depth conversation.

MISTAKE #2: Blindly accepting what your trainer tells you without making judge you fresh together! 

They SHOULD beryllium listening to you wholly and perceive your afloat story.

They SHOULD inquire astir immoderate past issues pinch injuries aliases acquisition pinch exercise. If you’re injured aliases person immoderate deficiencies, they should cognize this truthful they tin create a awesome programme for you.

They SHOULD inquire you astir your nutrition. If they don’t inquire astir your nutrition, you’re going to beryllium wasting your time.

They SHOULD believe what they preach. They don’t person to beryllium an Olympian, but should person a patient lifestyle.

They SHOULD show you astir their expertise and really they tin thief you. They should beryllium capable to stock past successes of clients pinch you aliases constituent to their credentials and history of success.

They SHOULD group due expectations. You won’t get ripped successful a month, but they tin fto you cognize it could return galore months to get successful style aliases build nan correct benignant of habits.

That’s what to look for. These are nan things we specifically attraction connected pinch our 1-on-1 online coaching program. We emotion helping group successful a measurement that fits their lifestyle, astatine a gait that they consciousness awesome about, while really having fun.

What are nan Signs of a bad individual trainer?

Our Lego friend is terrified of bad individual trainers.

Beware nan “entertainment exercise” trainers pinch a regular that isn’t catered to your goals.

MISTAKE #3: Thinking a workout is much effective because it’s confusing.

Many trainers conscionable effort to confuse you pinch needlessly analyzable movements, and put each their clients done astir nan aforesaid cookie-cutter plan.

Why? because they cognize it makes them look knowledgeable without really needing to do thing effectively:

“Now equilibrium connected this bosu shot while doing these dumbbell squat lunge curls and opinionated connected 1 ft pinch your lingua out! Muscle confusion!

I dream you saved immoderate power for nan statement machine.”

Make judge nan training from your PT matches your goals!

Tough workouts are great, but retrieve that while it’s easy to get personification tired (“go do 100 burpees!”), it’s harder to thief personification slow amended and build momentum.

Sure, it mightiness elevate your bosom complaint and tyre you out, but if it’s not building towards your goals successful a measurement that you couldn’t do astatine home, what are you paying for?

They mightiness besides person conscionable obtained a basal certification and stopped their acquisition there, relying connected ‘conventional wisdom’ alternatively than doing nan investigation and building nan experience.

If your trainer says immoderate of nan pursuing phrases, tally for nan precocious hills:

  • “Yeah you don’t want to squat excessively debased – it’s bad for your knees.”
  • “Use this machine; it’s safer for you than free weights” (unless you person an injury)
  • “Yes, you should beryllium utilizing mostly your back. That’s why it’s called nan backmost squat”
  • “These (ab) workout will pain fat from your tummy successful nary time” (You can’t spot trim fat.)

I person overheard each of these sound bites from existent trainers successful existent gyms, and it made maine weep for illustration nan Native American successful nan 1970s contamination ad:

Your trainer should beryllium results-focused, not focused connected scheduling you a caller convention and keeping you around.

I often spot clients moving pinch trainers for months and months and that customer ne'er looks immoderate different.

The trainer is conscionable willing successful cashing different check.

Remember, your individual trainer useful for YOU: Don’t fto them build a programme that doesn’t really fresh your needs!.

Do they set your workout to return attraction of immoderate pre-existing injuries you whitethorn have, aliases do they conscionable springiness you a cooky cutter workout?

Are they encouraging aliases helping you win successful nan measurement you want to beryllium encouraged, aliases are they scrolling done Instagram models connected their phones while you’re doing your sets?

Are they putting successful nan clip truthful they tin spot you get results, or are they putting successful nan clip truthful they tin cheque nan container and cod your money?

You’re paying money for this person’s expertise and attraction – it’s not excessively overmuch to inquire to find personification who takes those things seriously.

Getting successful style requires you to spell erstwhile you don't consciousness for illustration going

What certifications should a individual trainer have?

A individual trainer high-fiving a client.

There are a wide assortment of individual trainer certifications and different “credibility indicators.”

The much accepted way – a grade successful workout subject aliases kinesiology whitethorn mean nan trainer successful mobility is knowledgeable astir nan quality body.

However, that doesn’t speak to immoderate acquisition they whitethorn aliases whitethorn not person coaching successful real-world circumstances.

Here are 6 of nan astir celebrated individual trainer certifications:

  1. NSCA: National Strength and Conditioning Association
  2. ACSM: American College of Sports Medicine
  3. NASM: National Academy of Sports Medicine
  4. ACE: American Council connected Exercise
  5. NPTI: National Personal Training Institute
  6. CrossFit

T-Nation provides a rundown of nan pros and cons from a trainer’s position that we consciousness is besides useful penetration from a client’s perspective. Be judge to cheque them retired if you want to study much astir what’s down your trainer’s certification.

CrossFit certifications are completed successful a azygous weekend. While a CrossFit certification does not make a trainer bad (there are plenty of fantabulous CrossFit coaches retired there!), it does not guarantee excellence either.

Here are our thoughts connected CrossFit.

A certification from NPTI – nan National Personal Training Institute – is simply a credential gained from going to a schoolhouse for individual training (rather than attending a azygous people aliases taking a test).

While nary certification tin afloat committedness excellence, we judge trainers pinch NPTI certifications are worthy your consideration.

CAVEAT TO ALL OF THIS: Plenty of trainers who person NO certification are incredible, and plentifulness of different trainers person nan astir elite certifications and are unspeakable trainers.

MISTAKE #4: Blindly accepting a trainer’s credentials aliases discounting a trainer without definite credentials.

Certifications tin beryllium a starting point, but they shouldn’t beryllium nan determining factor.

One of nan astir important things to look for successful your trainer isn’t a credential aliases certification astatine all, but existent acquisition and an enthusiasm for helping you scope your goals.

For example:

Looking to powerlift aliases get into Olympic lifting? Look for personification who has successfully competed successful their fields, aliases personification who really coaches athletes who do compete!

Need to lose a batch of weight? Ask a trainer to stock pinch you occurrence stories from group who are for illustration you.

In our view, uncovering a trainer pinch proven acquisition and a way grounds of performing aliases coaching (or both) successful nan area of your goals is nan astir valuable measurement you tin return to guarantee quality.

The credential is only a starting point.

Trainers aren’t cheap, but the benefits tin beryllium priceless.

Remember, you aren’t paying simply for their clip pinch you. You’re paying for nan years and years they’ve spent learning, training, and coaching.

It’s nan years down nan certification that makes their clip truthful valuable, truthful expect nan costs of a trainer to beryllium importantly much than nan costs of a basal rank astatine your gym.

How overmuch does a individual trainer cost? Are individual trainers worthy it?

This Lego wants to cognize really overmuch individual training costs.

The costs of a individual trainer tin alteration dramatically depending on:

  • Where you unrecorded (in an costly city, mini town, etc.).
  • The amount and long of your training sessions.
  • What benignant of training you are looking for.

But you want specifics.

The mean North American trainer charges $55 for an hr session.[1]

That’s an “average” truthful let’s break it down a little.

Here are nan prices for moving pinch a trainer successful various capacities astatine my generic commercialized gym successful nan NYC area (definitely connected nan much costly end):

  • 4 sessions per month: $95 per convention = $380/month
  • 8 sessions per month: $85 per convention = $680/month
  • 12 sessions per month: $79 per convention = $948/month

This is what 1 tin expect to salary for individual training adjacent NYC.

Is this pricing much aliases little than you expected?

Here is really overmuch a individual trainer costs at:

  1. Global Gyms: Most large container gyms connection individual training:
    • LA Fitness: you tin expect to salary astir $60 per session.
    • 24-Hour Fitness: it’ll beryllium astir $80 per session.
    • Anytime Fitness: arsenic small arsenic $35 a session.
  2. Luxury Gyms: If you spell to a much upscale gym for illustration Equinox, expect to salary “luxury” prices of $110+ an hour.
  3. In-Home Personal Training. If you don’t want to caput to nan gym, you tin really person a individual trainer travel to your home. The costs connected this could beryllium each complete nan place, but a unsmooth mean would beryllium astir $65 for an hr session.

Different trainers will person different qualifications and expertise, starring to vastly different training experiences.

This tin beryllium really important.

MISTAKE #5: Thinking “more expensive” automatically intends “better results.” 

Cost is not nan correct metric. VALUE is nan correct metric!

Depending connected your goals and nan results you’re after:

  • $30 per session mightiness beryllium overpaying for a crap trainer who gives you a generic workout and doesn’t attraction astir you. 
  • $100 per session mightiness beryllium a STEAL if it’s an astonishing trainer that gets to cognize your life and your personality, motivates you successful nan measurement you request to beryllium motivated, and helps you get past a plateau erstwhile you stall.

That’s why remembering your “get successful shape” goals is captious erstwhile buying a individual trainer.

If you’re looking to do 5 sessions to amended your powerlifting technique, that’s different than hiring a trainer to beryllium pinch you successful personification 3x a week to get you to nan gym.


You’re not conscionable paying for an hr of somebody’s time.

You’re paying for their years of experience, schooling, training, and expertise.

You’re paying to outsource ALL of your fittingness questions to personification who knows what they’re doing.

Somebody who gives you nan assurance you’re training correctly.

This Muppet knows spot training will thief him summation musculus and suffer weight.

So alternatively of “I americium paying this trainer for 1 hour, this is excessively expensive,” what you’re really paying for is confidence, momentum, and (hopefully) results.

As personification who has worked pinch an online trainer since 2014, I would salary immoderate magnitude of money to my coach (just don’t show him that) because I emotion getting results aft years of struggle.

How does an in-person trainer comparison to our online coaching program?

Our pricing comes successful astatine a less-expensive value than 4 sessions per period pinch a trainer.

In summation to building you a workout programme for nan month, we besides thief you pinch your nutrition, mindset, and goals, and reply each nan questions you have.

There are very existent pros and cons to hiring an online individual trainer, truthful make judge you publication that adjacent section.

So a trainer tin beryllium AMAZING and worthy each penny, IF you person nan correct 1 who besides takes an progressive domiciled successful your nutrition.

After all, workouts only dress up 1-3 hours per week.

What astir nan different 165? That’s wherever nan advancement happens! And your coach should beryllium helping you location too!


This Lego jock is fresh for his individual training.

Warning: I’m going to beryllium somewhat biased successful this area, but I’ll stock nan honorable pros and cons of online training:

As I’ve mentioned, I’ve been moving pinch an online trainer since 2014, and it’s allowed maine to prove an net troll wrong and past lose 22 pounds successful 6 months while getting ace strong!

Here are nan Pros of Online Personal Training:

#1) Freedom to fresh your schedule. With an online individual coach, you tin train erstwhile and wherever you want to fresh your schedule – your coach builds nan workout programme for you up of time, truthful you tin fresh it successful astatine your convenience.

Compare this to a accepted coach, and you’re astatine nan mercy of their engaged schedule. If they only person clip Friday greeting astatine 8am, and you’re not a greeting person, conflict ensues.

#2) Persistent worldwide accountability. I’m borrowing this building from a NF Coaching Client, Jeff (his occurrence communicative is great). No matter wherever successful nan globe you are, your online trainer comes pinch you.

Which intends nan accountability ne'er stops. If you recreation for work, your coach tin scheme for that and build you a typical recreation routine. Getting relocated for work? No problem – your coach will still beryllium there.

#3) Nutritional guidance. With astir accepted individual trainers, you prosecute pinch them only during your scheduled visits: they thief you activity retired and that’s astir it.

With an online individual trainer, you’re connected whenever you person entree to nan internet. And I would ideate that MOST online coaching programs, activity pinch you connected nan astir important portion of nan equation: eating healthier!

AKA everything that happens successful nan 23 hours extracurricular of nan gym.

#4) More cost-effective. Most in-person individual trainers are expensive, particularly if you activity retired pinch them 2 aliases 3 times a week.

That’s because if your trainer is moving pinch you, they can’t activity pinch anybody other astatine nan aforesaid time.

When you activity pinch an online coach, because you aren’t training pinch them 1-on-1 successful nan gym, they tin supply much cost-effective guidance.

When you facet successful their readiness via chat and their thief connected habits and your nutrition, you’re looking astatine a life-changing acquisition if you find a coach that fits your personality.

#5) It mightiness beryllium the only option. With truthful galore gyms closing because of nan pandemic, you mightiness not moreover person overmuch of a prime here. Here’s our guideline to staying successful style (while staying inside) if you request to train from home. 

When comparing online coaches versus regular coaches, I’m going to stock nan cons arsenic if you person nan action betwixt a GREAT online coach and a GREAT in-person coach.

Neither of those is guaranteed.

Here are nan cons of an online coach erstwhile compared against a real-life equivalent:

#1) Your coach can’t do nan activity for you. There’s thing stopping you from skipping a workout and lying to your online coach that you did it. Nobody wins successful this scenario, but I tin wholly spot it happening.

So yeah, an online coach can’t prime up nan weight for you, and they can’t outcry astatine you to put down nan donut. You person to do nan work!

#2) No real-time feedback and instant shape check. If you’re learning really to powerlift, aliases you’re going for a peculiar dense lift, having a coach correct location is HUGE.

They tin show you to move your squat somewhat wider. They tin guideline you done nan activity and consistently punctual you – moreover erstwhile tired – to support awesome form.

Although we do form-check videos, wherever we person coaches and clients nonstop clips backmost and distant to each other, it’s not nan aforesaid arsenic having personification critique you successful real-time.

If you’re looking to nail a peculiarly challenging lift, aliases study a vulnerable gymnastics move, moving pinch a trained master successful personification is invaluable.

#3) The worth of sunk cost. If you salary for a period of online coaching, there’s thing inherently motivating you to spell to nan gym erstwhile it’s acold and you’re tired – your coach can’t outcry astatine you, and you’re not letting anybody down successful nan infinitesimal erstwhile you don’t make it.

Compare this to moving pinch a existent coach successful person.

You paid $100 for a session, and if you don’t show up, that money is *POOF* gone. So you show yourself, “I already paid for this, and my coach is gonna beryllium mad, I should astir apt go.”

And past you go. And you’re truthful gladsome that you did.

Wayne stoked he made it to nan gym coming to meet his individual trainer!

Although your online coach tin announcement that you haven’t signed successful connected your app, and they tin inquire what’s going on, this is aft nan truth compared to an in-person coach getting stood up.

There’s a batch to see erstwhile debating in-person training vs. an online individual trainer.

I wouldn’t opportunity 1 format is intelligibly amended than aliases superior to another. It really depends connected what you’re aft and nan circumstances of your situation.

MY PERSONAL EXPERIENCE: I’ve been moving pinch an online trainer since 2014, and it’s genuinely been life-changing for me.

I had immoderate goals that had evaded maine contempt a DECADE of effort, and it took a awesome coach to coax retired nan correct strategy. It’s really I opportunity (jokingly) that I went from Steve Rogers to Captain America.

And it was my coach’s programming that sewage maine a 420-pound deadlift astatine a bodyweight of 172 pounds:

Rebel Leader Steve showing really to do a 420 lb deadlift astatine nan gym.

I’m not gonna group immoderate powerlifting records, but I’m healthier, happier, and stronger each and each month, and I’m damn proud of that.  

For personification that can’t spend a top-of-the-line master coach for each session, having an online coach to build your programming and guideline your nutrient choices is simply a verrrrry adjacent second.

How to prosecute a individual trainer

It's now clip to bargain stuff!

HERE’S MY ADVICE: Give your caller individual trainer 5 sessions earlier making a determination that things aren’t moving retired (sessions are often sold astatine a discount successful a package).

The first convention is often exploratory, explanatory, and introductory, and nan trainer needs to trial your limits and movements to build upon that.

This isn’t a “get fresh quick” strategy, but alternatively 1 that could return months and months for you to find nan correct person to assistance you connected your journey.

Don’t expect miracles successful a day!

A fewer words of contented if you do prosecute a trainer:

DO NOT USE YOUR TRAINER AS AN EXCUSE: Too galore group will prosecute up a trainer and springiness nary effort successful nan gym aliases nan kitchen.

Then, erstwhile they neglect to spot results they tin move to their friends and opportunity “man, my trainer is terrible, THAT’S why I’m not losing weight/getting stronger/etc.”

This happens truthful overmuch much often than you’d think. A trainer is simply a guide, for illustration Morpheus.

Morpheus is benignant of for illustration a individual trainer, he'll show you nan measurement but you person to do nan work.

You person to return nan pill and locomotion done nan doorway yourself.

MAKE CRITICISM CONSTRUCTIVE CRITICISM: Often when nan trainer asks them to do thing (walk each day, throw distant junk food, eat a vegetable), nan client/trainee comes backmost pinch 1,001 reasons why they can’t do that.

No discuss aliases chat of imaginable solutions. This stinks.

Instead of saying “no,” connection an replacement solution and discuss a plan: “I don’t really for illustration broccoli, do you person a measurement to make vegetables sensation better?”

In different words, don’t look for problems, look for solutions.

IF YOU ENJOY WORKING WITH YOUR TRAINER: Let them cognize and proceed moving pinch them.

The much accusation you tin springiness them connected your progress, nan easier it will beryllium for them to change your programme arsenic you spell on.

IF YOU DON’T ENJOY WORKING WITH YOUR TRAINER: That’s okay too. Not each relationships extremity successful marriages.

Some first dates suck, and immoderate trainers aren’t what you need.

I deliberation you tin beryllium honorable pinch them and fto them cognize that it’s not a bully fresh and you will not beryllium continuing to activity pinch them.

Good trainers astatine this constituent will inquire what they could person done better.

Trainers who are simply aft your money whitethorn guilt travel you aliases request you to instrumentality around. Try personification caller and support nan hunt going.

REMEMBER: this is simply a lifelong quest, and you’re connected nan hunt for a awesome guideline to thief you connected your journey.

They won’t do nan activity for you, and they can’t activity miracles.

Have due expectations, do what you’re told, and this could beryllium nan champion finance you’ll make successful your full life!

Trainers successful nan Rebellion, what did I miss?

Those who person had acquisition moving pinch Trainers, immoderate contented to stock from your experience?

One last note: Going to a gym is intimidating, particularly if you’re starting out.

If you are successful a location wherever location aren’t immoderate awesome trainers, you don’t person entree to a gym, aliases you’re conscionable not fresh to activity pinch personification successful person, see checking retired our Online Coaching Program!

Schedule a free telephone to study much by clicking connected nan image below:

Nerd Fitness Coaching Ad

If you person questions astir what you request to look for erstwhile it comes to training pinch a coach successful person, aliases moreover questions astir moving pinch an online trainer, time off them successful nan comments beneath truthful I tin chime in!



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