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Over the weekend a friend of mine asked me about hiring a personal trainer (she lives a few hours away from me)

My friend has put everyone else first for the last decade and has finally carved out some time for her fitness and health.

After a brief discussion about details like rates, contracts, trial membership/sessions and billing, we talked about what I consider the most important details when joining a fitness & nutrition coaching facility or personal trainer.

Here’s what we discussed:


Number one has nothing to do with programs, knowledge or personality.

If you are looking for a physical location for your fitness training it needs to be convenient. You decide what convenience is, but 15-20 minute drive time from your home is probably the top end. (If you live in a rural area, you’ll likely have a different idea of what “convenient” means.)

You may also want to think about choosing a place close to your work if that helps with the convenience factor. If 5 am is the only time you can carve out of your schedule, you need to find a trainer/facility that has this availability.

Convenience plays a big role in consistency and your trainer knows this.

First Impressions

As you start to research and reach out to facilities and trainers, I feel a few things should take place at the beginning of the process.

  • Filling out a Health questionnaire – some kind of information gathering form asking you about your current health, injuries, limitations, past history of exercise and of course your goals! Movement assessment – This isn’t a workout per se, but a session that looks at the basic fundamental movements that are the foundation of a good training program.
  • Face-to-face conversation – your assessment (we call it a Breakthrough Strategy Session) is probably the first time you are getting to know your potential trainer and vice versa. This is a person you may be with a few times a week. If you commit and work with this person(s). You should feel comfortable from the start.
  • Sales pitch – You’ll probably get the trainer’s sales pitch during this meeting as well. If your trainer is making lots of promises and things that sound too good to be true, they probably are. Fat loss, building strength, and living a healthier lifestyle takes effort and time. Six-pack abs in 6 weeks isn’t happening. The details should be transparent and easy to understand.

I would proceed with EXTREME caution if you saw an ad/offer about a trainer or facility that told you one thing and then once you were in person, you start getting a bunch of requirements and rules for that offer to be valid. Honesty is the best policy!

Culture of success

Your trainer should always have a true concern for your progress. If you choose a fitness training facility, the owner, trainers, and other clients should all be sharing in this “culture of success.” Ask if you can meet and talk to a few of the trainers and clients to get an idea of the culture.

Learning to embrace and enjoy fitness may take a little time. That’s why it’s important to find a coach or facility that provides you a positive environment that’s enjoyable.

Education, experience, certifications

Just because someone is fit doesn’t make them a good trainer. A good trainer has taken steps to improve and get better at their craft.

  • College degree in Kinesiology, Exercise Science, or a similar field.
  • Certified by one of the major recognized certification organizations (NSCA, ACSM, ACE, NASM). Anyone can go online and become a “certified” personal trainer in about an hour. A trainer saying they are certified doesn’t mean a whole lot in some cases.
  • Experience teaches you more than any book or degree can. I have an edge on the young, passionate trainer without any experience, but he or she deserves their chance to gain some as well. Young and passionate may be what you need. Don’t let lack of experience be the deal breaker if you like everything else in the person.


There are a lot of fitness professionals out there helping people improve their health and strength. Unfortunately, there are also a bunch of knuckleheads.

I’ve been in this industry for 12 years. I’ve made mistakes along the way, but I have always been professional.

  • I have never canceled a session on a client.
  • I have always been on time.
  • I take pride in my work.
  • I treat people with respect.
  • I’m honest and open-minded.
  • I lead by example.

Don’t forget the little things like a firm handshake, eye contact, and being polite. You can save yourself a lot of time and money by not overlooking the importance of working with someone who is professional.

Continual growth and improvement

A good trainer, like any profession, needs to continually improve.

None of us have this down pat. A true professional is always trying to improve, so they can deliver a better service to their clients.

Things you can ask your potential trainer or current trainer:

  • How often do you read books on fitness, nutrition and health, and business?
  • What are you doing for continuing education this year (conferences, online courses, mastermind groups, mentoring)?
  • Do you network with other fitness professionals? Hiring a trainer is a smart fitness and health investment.

Choose wisely.

Keep moving,

Coach Dom

At Breakthrough Fitness, we help busy people across Oviedo become STRONGER. HEALTHIER.

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