Certified Personal Trainer

Trainers Hiring Trainers?! Yes, We Do That!

Stacey Penney
Stacey Penney

By Stacey Penney,MS, NASM-CPT, CES, PES, FNS

Personal trainers need motivation to exercise, too. By working with another trainer, they can polish their instructional techniques and attain their own fitness goals.

It may seem like an odd working relationship, a personal trainer hiring their own personal trainer. Most “non-trainers” and trainers alike raised their brow when this conversation started, while others nodded in agreement and shared their own reasons for hiring a personal trainer.

Why would a personal trainer hire their own trainer? Don’t they know how to design an exercise program and what to do?

Personal trainers hire their own trainer for the same reasons as anyone else-motivation, accountability, encouragement, or to conquer new goals and training plateaus. Maybe it’s also to learn new techniques, hurdle over a bout of program design block, or a brush up lesson in empathy.

According to research by Ratamass et al., (1) exercisers working with a personal trainer had higher 1 Repetition Max (1RM) and Ratings of Perceived Exertion (RPE) scores than those exercising on their own. For example, Rachael D’Angelo, MS, NASM CPT, CES, PES, shares, “I find that when I work out without a trainer I don’t push myself nearly as far; I look at my workout and know how hard they are and I tend not to give 100%.  So I love working out with a trainer for the extra motivation in addition to learning and sharing new ideas with each other.”

Personal trainers have many of the same challenges as their clients when it comes to reaching goals. Jonna Ennis, an NASM CES in San Diego, Cali., has hired different personal trainers over the last decade for different reasons, including getting back into pre-pregnancy shape after the birth of her children, or most recently, to prepare for an upcoming competition. Ennis adds, “I like someone who motivates me, inspires me, and most of all pushes me farther…”

Working with a personal trainer can also be an incredible learning experience. Before incorporating new equipment choices or techniques into a client’s program, being able to correctly use them and cue for safety and effectiveness is paramount. It is also an opportunity to share ideas on how to progress (or regress) exercises to address different phases in the OPT ™ Model. Additionally, it reminds the personal trainer what it feels like to experience something new.

What Do Personal Trainers Look for When Hiring a Trainer?

Personal trainers also consider the same qualities and attributes as non-trainers when they hire: credentials, experience, certifications, recommendations, and how well they work together in the initial session. If personal trainers aren’t getting what they need in the relationship, they won’t come back either (2). Switching the perspective–the personal trainer as client–can be a unique challenge, not only do they want a fun and progressive workout, they may also question why they are doing an exercise and critique their trainer’s program design.

So go ahead, let your clients know you also have your own personal trainer. They’ll appreciate that you are human and sometimes you need a little fitness motivation, too.


  1. Ratamass, N.A., Faigenbaum, A.D., Hoffman, J.R., & Kang, J. Self-selected resistance training intensity in healthy women: The influence of a personal trainer. J Strength Cond Res 2008; Jan 22(1): 103-111.
  2. Clark MA. NASM Essentials of Personal Fitness Training 4th Baltimore, MD: Lippincott Williams & Wilkins; 2012.

Tags: Certified Personal Trainer

The Author

Stacey Penney

Stacey Penney

Stacey Penney, MS, NASM-CPT, CES, PES, CNC, is the Content Strategist with NASM and AFAA. A 20+ year veteran of the fitness industry, she's worked with the top certification and continuing education groups. At NASM and AFAA she drives the content for American Fitness Magazine, blog and the social media platforms. Stacey received her degree in Athletic Training/PE from San Diego State University and an MS in Exercise Science from CalU, plus credentials in Health Promotion Management & Consulting (UCSD), Instructional Technology (SDSU), group fitness and yoga. Previous San Diego Fall Prevention Task Force Chair, she’s developed continuing education curriculum for fitness organizations in addition to personal training, writing, and co-coaching youth rec soccer.