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How to Find Personal Trainer That Suits You: Top 5 Mistakes to Avoid!

how to find personal trainer
how to find personal trainer

How to find personal trainer that suits you? Before you spend any money on a personal trainer, read on!

It will help you spot the difference bet­ween a bad personal trainer and an AMAAZING trainer.

And trust us, having the best personal trainer can make ALL the difference in the world.

There’s nothing worse than spending 3+ months in a gym (and thousands of dollars) with a personal trainer, only to step on the scale or looking at your reflection on the mirror and realize that you haven’t made any progress.

It sucks.

We have worked with good trainers and bad trainers over the past 13 years.

Long story short, we know our stuff, and we’ll give it to you straight.

In this post we will uncover the good, the bad, and the ugly when it comes to personal trainers:

  • What do you really need from a personal trainer?
  • How to find the best personal trainer.
  • What are the signs of a bad personal trainer?
  • What certifications and qualifications should a personal trainer have?
  • How much does a personal trainer cost?
  • How to hire a personal trainer: next steps.

What do you really need from a personal trainer

The first important question you need to inquire when getting a personal trainer: do they match up with your fitness goals?

And that means we are going to have to pick some fitness goals at the start!

So start by picking your fitness goals and then determine if the personal trainer that you are teamed up with is the right fit for you. Like dating, you can meet somebody who is amazing and outstanding but not right for you.

If somebody is a competitive marathon runner, they might not be a great powerlifting coach, and vice versa.

So, start with your goals for finding a personal trainer:

  1. Are you trying to lose 10kg? 5kg? Get to 10% body fat?
  2. Are you trying to get stronger or hold your first pullup?
  3. Are you looking to run your first 10k?
  4. Do you just want to get in shape and feel better?

These fitness goals will largely determine the type of personal trainer that you are looking for.

MISTAKE #1: Not making sure your trainer has expertise in the area you want to train in.

Proficiency in one area does not necessarily make them a good fit in another area!

After that, you would want to think about what you NEED from your personal trainer:

  1. Are you looking to learn and master the basics main lifts (barbell squat, bench press, deadlift, pull up) ? Just a few sessions up front and a few later down the line to confirm you’re on the right path might be sufficient.
  2. Are you new to working out or looking to kick start your first 3 months of training with 2 to 3 sessions per week to keep you disciplined?
  3. What type of person are you? Do you need more hands-on guidance throughout your workouts, or more space to take ownership and thrive on your own? Do you need somebody who will cheer you on?

Once you set proper expectations with what you want and how long you need a trainer for, then you can pick out one that hopefully will work for you.

How to find the best personal trainer

how to find the best personal trainer

Once you find a personal trainer you are considering working with, the next step should always be an in-depth conversation.

MISTAKE #2: Aimlessly accepting what your personal trainer tells you without making sure that both of you fit together! 

They SHOULD be listening to you completely and hear your full story.

They SHOULD ask about any past issues with injuries or previous experience with fitness training. If you’re injured or have any shortcoming, they should know about this so they can create a great training program just for you.

They SHOULD ask you about your nutrition. If they don’t ask about your nutrition, you’re going to be wasting your time.

They SHOULD practice what they preach. They don’t have to be an Olympian, but should have a healthy lifestyle.

They SHOULD tell you about their training specialty  and how they can help you. They should be able to share past successes of clients with you or point to their credentials and history of success.

They SHOULD set proper expectations. You won’t get ripped in a month, but they can let you know it could take many months to get in shape or build the right kind of habits.

What are the Signs of a bad personal trainer?

signs of a bad personal trainer

Beware the “entertainment exercise” trainers with an aimless routine that isn’t catered to your fitness goals.

MISTAKE #3: Thinking that the workout is more effective because it is confusing.

Many personal trainers are just trying to confuse you with unnecessary complex movements, and put all their clients through roughly the same one-size-fits-all training plan.

Why? Because they know it makes them look more knowledgeable without actually needing to do something effectively:

Tough workouts are great, but remember that while it’s easy to get someone very tired (“like doing 100 burpees!”), it’s harder to help someone slowly improve and build momentum.

Sure, it might elevate your heart rate and tire you out, but if it’s not building towards your fitness goals in a way that you couldn’t do at home, what are you paying for?

They might also have just obtained a basic certification and stopped their education there, relying on ‘conventional wisdom’ rather than doing the research and building the experience.

If your personal trainer says any of the following phrases, withdraw now!

  • You should not squat too low – it’s bad for your knees.”
  • “Use this machine; it’s safer for you than using free weights” (unless you have an injury)
  • “Yes, you should be using mostly your back. That’s why it’s called the back squat”
  • “These core exercise will burn fat from your stomach in no time” (You cannot spot reduce fat!)

I have overheard all of these sound bites from real trainers in real gyms, and it made me weep like the Native American in the 1970s pollution ad:

Your personal trainer should be results-focused, not focused on scheduling you a new session and keeping you around.

I often see clients working with personal trainers for months and months and that client never looks any different.

The personal trainer is just interested in cashing another check.

Remember, your personal trainer works for YOU: Don’t let them build a program that doesn’t actually fit your needs!.

Do they adjust your workout to take care of any pre-existing injuries you may have, or do they just give you an one-size-fits-all workout?

Are they encouraging or helping you succeed in the way you want to be encouraged, or are they scrolling through Instagram and Facebook on their phones while you’re doing your sets?

Are they putting in the time so they can see you get results, or are they putting in the time so they can check the box and collect your money?

You’re paying money for this person’s expertise and attention – it’s not too much to ask to find somebody who takes those things seriously.

What certifications and qualifications should a personal trainer have?

certifications and qualifications

There are a wide variety of personal trainer certifications and other “credibility indicators.”

The more traditional path – a degree in exercise and sport science or kinesiology may mean the personal trainer in question is knowledgeable about the human body.

However, that doesn’t speak to any experience they may or may not have coaching in real-world circumstances.

5 of the most popular personal trainer certifications are:

  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 on Exercise
  5. CrossFit

CrossFit certifications are completed in a single weekend. While a CrossFit certification does not make a trainer bad (there are plenty of excellent CrossFit coaches out there!), it does not guarantee excellence either.

MISTAKE #4: Blindly accepting a personal trainer’s credentials or discounting a personal trainer without certain credentials.

Certifications can be a starting point, but it shouldn’t be the determining factor.

One of the most important things to look for in your personal trainer isn’t a credential or certification at all, but real experience and an enthusiasm for helping you reach your goals.

For example:

Looking to powerlift or get into Olympic lifting? Look for someone who has successfully competed in their fields, or someone who actually coaches athletes who do compete!

Need to lose a lot of weight? Ask a personal trainer to share with you success stories from people who are like you.

In our view, finding a personal trainer with proven experience and a track record of performing or coaching (or both) in the area of your goals is the most valuable step you can take to ensure quality.

The credential is only a starting point.

Personal trainers are not cheap, but the benefits can be priceless.

Remember, you are not paying simply for their time with you. You’re paying for the years and years they’ve spent learning, training, and coaching.

It is the years behind the certification that makes their time so valuable, so expect the cost of a personal trainer to be significantly more than the cost of a basic membership at your gym.

How much does a personal trainer cost? Are Personal Trainers Worth it?

The cost of a personal trainer can vary dramatically depending on:

  • Where you train at (Orchard area or CBD area)?
  • The quantity and duration of your personal training sessions.
  • What kind of fitness training you are looking for (Functional training or Strength training)?

But you want specificity.

The personal trainers in Singapore charges from $100 to $250 for an hour session.

Here are the prices for working with a personal trainer in various capacities at generic commercial personal training gym in the CBD area (definitely on the more expensive end):

  • 4 sessions per month: $240 per session = $960/month
  • 8 sessions per month: $220 per session = $1760/month
  • 12 sessions per month: $200 per session = $2400/month

Is this pricing more or less than you expected?

Here is how much a personal trainer costs at:

  1. Commercial Gyms: Most big box gyms offer personal training:
    • Fitness First : you can expect to pay about $100 per session (60 mins).
    • Virgin Active: it’ll be about $85 per session (45 mins).
  2. Luxury Gyms: If you go to a more upscale gym like Ultimate Performance, expect to pay “luxury” prices of $250+ an hour.
  3. In-Home Personal Training. If you don’t want to head to the gym, you can actually have a personal trainer come to your home. The cost on this could be all over the place, but a rough average would be about $150 for an hour session.

Different personal trainers will have different qualifications and expertise, leading to vastly different training experiences.

This can be really important.

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

Cost is not the right metric. VALUE is the right metric!

Depending on your goals and the results you’re after:

  • $80 per session might be overpaying for a lousy trainer who gives you a generic workout and doesn’t care about you.
  • $125 per session might be a STEAL if it’s an amazing trainer that gets to know your life and your personality, motivates you in the way you need to be motivated, and helps you get past a plateau when you stall.

That’s why remembering your “get in shape” goals is critical when buying a personal trainer.

If you’re looking to do 5 sessions to improve your powerlifting technique, that’s different than hiring a trainer to be with you in person 3x a week to get you to the gym.

HOW TO THINK ABOUT HIRING A PERSONAL TRAINER: 

You’re not just paying for an hour of somebody’s time.

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

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

Somebody who gives you the confidence you’re training correctly.

So a trainer can be AMAZING and worth every penny, IF you have the right one who also takes an active role in your nutrition and your sleep habits.

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

What about the other 165? That’s where the progress happens! And your coach should be helping you there too!

How to hire a personal trainer

HERE’S MY ADVICE: Give your new personal trainer 5 sessions before making a decision that things aren’t working out (sessions are often sold at a discount in a package).

The first session is often exploratory, explanatory, and introductory, and the personal trainer needs to test your limits and movements to build upon that.

This isn’t a “get fit quick” strategy, but rather one that could take months and months for you to find the right person to aid you on your journey.

Don’t expect miracles in a day!

A few words of wisdom if you do hire a personal trainer:

DO NOT USE YOUR PERSONAL TRAINER AS AN EXCUSE: Too many people will hire up a personal trainer and give no effort in the gym or the kitchen.

Then, when they fail to see results they can turn to their friends and say “man, my personal trainer is terrible, THAT is why I’m not losing weight/getting stronger/etc.”

This happens so much more often than you’d think.

A personal trainer is a guide, like Morpheus. You have to take the pill and walk through the door yourself.

MAKE CRITICISM CONSTRUCTIVE CRITICISM: Often when the personal trainer asks them to do something (walk every day and eat more fruits and vegetable), the client/trainee comes back with 1,001 reasons why they can’t do that.

No compromise or discussion of possible solutions. This stinks.

Instead of saying “no,” offer an alternative solution and negotiate a plan: “I don’t really like broccoli, do you have a way to make vegetables taste better?”

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

IF YOU ENJOY WORKING WITH YOUR PERSONAL TRAINER: Let them know and continue working with them.

The more information you can give them on your progress, the easier it will be for them to alter your program as you go on.

IF YOU DON’T ENJOY WORKING WITH YOUR PERSONAL TRAINER: That’s okay too. Not all relationships end in marriages.

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

I think you can be honest with them and let them know that it’s not a good fit and you will not be continuing to work with them.

Good trainers at this point will ask what they could have done better.

Personal trainers who are simply after your money may guilt trip you or beg you to stick around. Try somebody new and keep the search going.

REMEMBER: this is a lifelong quest, and you’re on the hunt for a great guide to help you on your journey.

They won’t do the work for you, and they can’t work miracles.

Have proper expectations, do what you’re told, and this could be the best investment you’ll make in your entire life!


Our personal training allows you to meet your lifestyle needs and is flexible to fit into your busy schedule. Feel free to contact us for details.