Whether you’ve been working out for years or worked out a day in your life, hiring a certified personal trainer (CPT) could be exactly what you need to help you reach your goals and take your fitness to the next level.
To help you better understand the benefits of hiring a trainer, what to expect from a personal trainer, and how to choose the right one for you, we’ve answered these questions plus some of the most frequently asked questions when it comes to hiring a personal trainer.
Why Should I Hire a Personal Trainer?
Hiring a personal trainer might seem like something that’s only accessible to the rich and famous, but it’s not! There are many good reasons to hire a personal trainer. Here are just a few reasons to hire a personal trainer:
• Get a customized training plan: For most gym-goers, figuring out which exercises to do and where to start can be the most intimidating part of going to the gym. Working with a trainer can take the guesswork out of it as they work with you to construct a plan that’s tailored to your needs.
• Form check: Personal trainers know how to properly perform exercises and can help make sure that you are exercising safely and with good form to reduce your risk of injury. It’s also a great way to learn how to work out properly so that you can feel more comfortable working out on your own.
• Accountability: Knowing that someone is waiting for you at the gym and that you are paying for that time with them can be a great motivator to get to the gym for your workout. Your personal trainer can also help to make sure you stay on track during your sessions so that you get the most out of your time spent at the gym.
• Try new exercises: Tired of doing the same exercises over and over? A CPT can introduce you to new exercises and equipment to keep things fresh as you crush your goals.
• Push past plateaus: Fit pros know how to appropriately change the intensity of your workouts in a safe and structured manner to keep you advancing. Plus, you’re likely to push yourself a bit harder with a trainer than you might on your own!
What Do Personal Trainers Do?
The goal of a personal trainer is to use their knowledge and expertise to help a client reach their health and fitness goals as efficiently, effectively, and as safely as possible. Personal trainers are armed with scientific knowledge and practical know-how related to exercise and human movement such as resistance training, flexibility, cardiovascular fitness training, core training, balance training, and plyometric training concepts.
When you first meet with a personal trainer, their job is to assess where you’re starting, gather information about your overall health and lifestyle, and learn about your current goals. They will use all this information to come up with a personal fitness plan that’s designed to meet you where you’re starting and gradually help you build toward your goals.
How many times a week do I need a personal trainer?
Current physical activity guidelines recommend 150 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic activity per week and muscle-strengthening activities on 2 or more days a week to work all major muscle groups (CDC 2022). The number of times per week that you work with a trainer will depend on your goals, your budget, and your schedule.
If you have general health and fitness goals, then training 2-3 days per week for at least 30 minutes per session will help you meet the current physical activity guidelines for muscle strengthening. For muscle building, weight loss, or performance goals, more days of training may be required to help you reach your goals. If your budget doesn’t allow for more than 1-2 sessions a week with a trainer, you may be able to have your trainer write you a workout for the days you go to the gym solo.
Can a Personal Trainer Help Me Reach My Goals?
A personal trainer can work with you to create a workout plan designed to help you reach your goals. They can make sure that you’re working at the correct intensity, doing the right exercises with good form, and offer accountability and encouragement to help you stay consistent in the process. They can also help you troubleshoot along the way if you seem to plateau, or you aren’t seeing the results you thought you would.
A note on meal plans: While personal trainers can give you basic nutritional guidance according to current nutritional guidelines, they cannot legally give you a meal plan to follow as it is outside of their scope of practice. Some personal trainers get additional certifications in nutrition to be able to guide you with nutrition, but only a Registered Dietician can prescribe a meal plan.
How do I choose a Personal Trainer?/What Should I Look For?
When searching for a personal trainer, you’ll certainly want someone who is credentialed to help you, but you’ll also want to look for someone who is a good fit for you when it comes to location, personality, training style/training philosophy, and niche. Here’s what you need to know when you’re looking:
• Credentials: A qualified personal trainer will have a current NCCA-accredited certification in personal training. You may also ask the trainer what type of continuing education they take or other certifications they hold to learn more about their educational experience.
• Location: Trainers can work at home (yours or theirs), virtually (live or by writing a program for you to take to the gym with you), in a big gym, in a small studio or boutique, or even in a park! Have an idea of the part of town that will work best for you (especially if you will be traveling before or after work when traffic tends to be at its worst), and which type of setting you prefer. Larger settings may provide more “perks” for its members, like classes included in the membership, while smaller settings offer more privacy for personal training.
• Personality: You can’t always judge a book by its cover, as they say, but finding the right personality fit will matter when you choose your personal trainer. It helps to find someone that you enjoy spending time with since it will make the experience much more rewarding and enjoyable. Need a cheerleader? A drill instructor? Is someone chatty, or quiet? You’ll get a feel for their personality when you meet the trainer, but it might be good to consider your needs before heading into the consultation.
• Niche: Some trainers will take on any client, but many personal trainers serve a niche population, for example, adults over the age of 65, women between the ages of 30-60, adults with goals to improve movement and feel better, athletes, runners, etc. The benefit to hiring a personal trainer who serves clients with goals that are like yours is that they will have experience in helping others reach those goals and are prepared to help you as well.
The bottom line is that each personal trainer will vary by experience, location, personality, and training niche, so don’t be afraid to shop around until you find the right fit for you.
Personal trainers help you reach your health and fitness goals by creating a plan that’s designed to help you reach your goals as efficiently, effectively, and as safely as possible. With online and in-person options available, personal training is now more accessible than ever. Whether you need a plan, guidance with form and exercise selection, accountability, or just an extra push, hiring a certified personal trainer can take your fitness to the next level!
Thinking about becoming a personal trainer? NASM’s Certified Personal Trainer course has all that you need to jump-start your fitness career. Get a leg up in the industry by getting certified by NASM.
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (2022, June 6). Physical activity: Adults. https://www.cdc.gov/physicalactivity/basics/adults/index.htm