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Have you finally decided to get a personal trainer and start doing some exercise? Excellent, that’s the way to go! However, it’s often difficult to choose a trainer who’s right for you, as there are so many of them.

How not to go wrong?

Training under the supervision of a professional trainer is beneficial for both beginning and advanced athletes. The trainer comes up with a meaningful training plan to help you achieve your goals, work on your weaknesses and develop your strengths, checks your technique, helps you eliminate pain and muscle imbalance, shows you some new exercises, and is your guide to the world of sports.

A good trainer, in fact, has several roles:

  • physiotherapist (one of these responsibilities is to find the causes of your movement-related problems and to resolve them)
  • doctor (some illnesses are related to the conditions of your locomotion system)
  • nutrition consultant (without proper food you can’t achieve the desired performance or lose/gain weight)
  • psychologist (your trainer should help you with the mental part of your training, e.g. boost your confidence, minimize the effect of negative thinking on your performance, etc.)
  • scientist (reading studies on training and nutrition should be your trainer’s daily routine)
  • friend (yes, a slight overstatement, but still you should get along well on a personal level and you should trust your trainer)

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Why get a trainer, though?

If you’re just a beginner, it’s always good to attend at least several training sessions with a trainer. They will diagnose your locomotion system, so you’ll learn what to work on, what your health problems are caused by and what prevents you from performing better. They will create a reasonable training plan based on your particular goals. They will also come up with exercises tailored to your needs and will make sure you do them correctly.

After completing several sessions with a trainer, you may feel there’s no need to continue, and that you can easily obviously continue on your own. The very opposite is true, though. Ideally, everybody should have their own personal trainer their entire life. This is why it’s good for you to train with a trainer all the time, or at least occasionally. A correctly chosen trainer will keep setting and modifying your training plan so you stay motivated, improve, and achieve your goals. And most importantly, the trainer will keep making sure your training is helping you, not hurting you.

Unfortunately, not every trainer fits the description above. Here are some tips for avoiding the ones that don’t.

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“Unsuitable” trainer

I usually categorize “bad” trainers into two groups.

he first group is for the trainers who are simply bad for everyone. Mostly, these people have passed a fitness instructor course in some dubious trainer school; they’re not interested in exercise very much and tell people to do whatever comes to their mind in the moment. They usually hang around infamous gyms, but sometimes you can come across them in the well-known ones as well (hard to say how they got there, though).

You can recognize them by the way they chitchat about some trivialities while their clients are walking on the treadmill. Then there’s a ten-minute “try as many tools as possible” exercise and again some walking on the treadmill. Such trainers create the workout plan on the spot during the session while sending at least twenty text messages, calling grandma, and finishing their lunch and dessert.

The second group of trainers is made up for ones that may be an excellent choice for some, but not for you. Mostly, you don’t get along on a personal level or you don’t like their training style. As an example, women usually dislike weightlifting, so trainers who like their clients to do some weightlifting aren’t suitable for women who start shaking the moment the see a dumb-bell. However, they may be excellent for certain women who do enjoy weightlifting.


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How to choose the right one?

Diagnostics and availability.

A true trainer always does a diagnostic test, screening or something like that prior to starting a training plan. It shows whether you are physically all right, if you have any potential deficiencies, e.g. insufficient mobility, weakened muscles, etc. Such a trainer should ask about your health, previous illnesses or physical activities, diet, and about how you spend your leisure time.

Later on, when creating your training plan, the results of the diagnostic test should be considered a priority, while your goals should come second. If, for example, a guy comes in wanting to be able to deadlift 200 kilograms but doesn’t have his body core strong enough or fails to correctly activate his buttocks, he needs to be taught all these first and only then start to work towards his deadlifting goal. Lots of clients find this hard to accept and prefer getting somebody else who’ll do the deadlifting with them from the very first session. Try to get over this and remember that gradually raising the level of difficulty and a healthy, working training plan will take you much further (and with lower risk of injury).

Actively interested in sports.

The trainer should do some physical activities (if healthy enough). Also, it’s important that they used to do the sport they are now training (this applies mainly to specialized trainers, e.g. triathlon, swimming, etc.).

Asking questions all the time.

How are you feeling, do you see any results, are you in pain, how do you feel after the previous training session, how do you feel in general, and what have you eaten? These are the kinds of questions you should be hearing from your trainer a lot. Don’t consider it an interrogation, as all these questions improve your trainer’s services. Do some asking as well. Why are we doing this exercise? What is this good for? How is this going to help or improve me? Why am I lifting this weight and why this particular number of repetitions? A good trainer always has answers, gives them and is happy to see that you’re interested in the training.

Clients’ reviews.

Ideally, the trainer has an official website where you could find reviews from previous or current clients. If there’s no website, just go ask around the gym or ask the trainer directly to put you in touch with some of their clients. If the trainer is confident in their abilities, they should be willing to offer this information.

Certified, yes, but…

Here you can’t really rely on “the more, the better”. Each trainer should have a fitness instructor certificate (in the Czech Republic, it’s a precondition to get a trade licence), and should continue developing their skills and knowledge. What matters is the quality of courses and seminars the trainer has attended. Hopefully, they’re more than just attendance certificates for them to show off on the “shelf of fame”.

Custom training plan.

The trainer should plan training sessions directly for you based on your fitness, health, etc. If you come to the training and see your trainer doing what you did yesterday, only now with some other client, it may be a reason to worry. Also, the trainer should plan the training sessions ahead of time, but should be able to modify them based on your current needs (e.g. one of your arms hurts, you’re tired, etc.).


One of the very important things. Even the best and widely recognized trainer won’t be right for you if you don’t get along well. Does your trainer seem weird, too strict or negative to you? Or you don’t feel good around him/her? Go find someone else who will help you stay motivated.

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