Reader’s Request: Hiring a Personal Trainer

Hi friends! How are you? Hope you’re having a fabulous morning <3

I started off my day with a bowl of breakfast cookie dough cereal.


-1/2 C gluten-free oats

-1 heaping T almond butter

-1 scoop Standard Process dairy-free (I’m out of Sun Warrior- thank goodness we’re having a promo this week)

-1 C almond milk

-organic frozen strawberries

Heating the cereal for about a minute defrosted the strawberries a little and made it extra glorious. I may be giving extra love to almond butter today… debating giving it up for Lent. We shall see, I just love it so much.

Recent eats:

Alexia brand sweet potato chipotle fries




Brown rice toast with almond butter


Dinner with the fam last night was a blasty. We talked houses 🙂 I actually took my little bro to look at another house we were interested in on the golf course, but didn’t love it as much in person. We’ll see what the Pilot says when I talk to him today….


How to Choose a Personal Trainer?


I received a few emails and comments about this one, so thought it would be a good reader’s request. While I’m not training right now –my other jobs are keeping me pretty busy- I’ve trained for about 4 years and have seen some interesting things. Hopefully this post will help you figure out what type of trainer you’d like to hire.

There are LOTs and lots of trainers in the sea 😉 Some are awesome and will teach you so much, some are jokers, and many are unqualified (scary, but true).


Here are some things to consider when you’re looking to hire a personal trainer:

1. Who do they work for?

Trainers are either self-employed, contracted by the gym, or hired employees of the gym. If you’re thinking about getting a trainer at a larger gym, be wary of the *packages* they’ll try to sell you. These trainers are often more like car salesmen than trainers- they make commission off the packages they sell and can be a little pushy.

2. What type of certification do they have? How long have they been training?

It’s scary, but quite a few gyms will allow their employees to train clients without any type of certification. Ask what type of cert the potential trainer has, and go home and Google it. Some reputable certs include: ACE, AFAA, NASM, NESTA, NCFS, ACSM (which I forgot to mention earlier and added in).

Experience is also a biggie. Get a trainer that isn’t a newbie. In some things, it’s ok to hire a newbie, but for the sake of your money and less risk of injury, get a trainer with at least a year experience.

3. Personality.

Personality is a biggie. Some trainers like to chit chat with their clients, others like to drill them like it’s a bootcamp. Some are more quiet, others are loud (and disrupt them entire gym). A good trainer will be able to adjust their training style to suit what you’re looking for. For example, I knew which clients wanted me to just hang out with them and push them to finish, and others who didn’t want to talk and just work for the entire hour. While you can adjust training style, you can’t adjust your personality. Make sure they mesh well.

4. Can you watch them in action before you decide?

If you’re considering hiring a personal trainer, be at the gym while they’re training and observe while you lift weights of ellipticize. Do they train all of their clients the same way? Look for another one. What’s their style like? Is their client sweating like they’re getting a good workout? Observe and determine if it’s the kind of workout that you’d like to do. One trainer that I worked with would do the exact same workout with every client. Everyone is different and has different needs, so this isn’t the best way to go.

5. Cost.

Cost per session can vary from $30/hour to $100+/hour. See what rates they offer and if there’s a better deal if you buy more than one session at a time. Often, clients can train with a trainer for a few months and then go out of their own to workout with proper form. I think it’s a great idea for everyone to invest in an excellent trainer for a few sessions and learn more about nutrition and form.


More tips:

– Don’t consider the trainer’s body type while making your decision. A good trainer will know how to give you the results you’re looking for. (For example, a muscle-y bodybuilder type may know how to give you the long and lean look you’re going for, while a less muscle-y person like myself can make you ripped if that’s what you want). Make sure the trainer knows what your goals are.

-Use your gut– you’ll know if it’s a good match. I’ve told you guys about this before, but my first trainer was a beefy man, without a certification, who told me I could only eat 1,000 calories per day. Needless to say, it didn’t last long, but I lost a lot of money by purchasing a huge package and then ending my contract. After that debacle, I found a female trainer (who does figure competitions), who was amazing and taught me SO much. If it doesn’t feel right, keep looking! Like I said, there are tons of trainers in the sea.

Hope this helped a little!

As always, send reader’s requests my way (fitnessista at gmail dot com).

See ya this afternoon!



Something to talk about: Have you ever worked with a personal trainer before? What was your experience like?

Zumba Song of the Day: “Ay Chico (Lengua Afuera)” Pitbull

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  1. Emma (Namaste Everyday) on March 8, 2011 at 3:26 pm

    I’ve always thought that hiring a personal trainer would be a great way to get into shape and learn moves that are good for my body. Thanks for the tips!

  2. Lisa on March 8, 2011 at 3:33 pm

    I used to have the best personal trainer till she moved! She was on time, helped me lose about 20 lbs, motivated me, and cheered me on. She also checked my food journal each week! I liked that each workout was different which kept things interesting. Can you clone yourself?

    • Fitnessista on March 8, 2011 at 4:44 pm

      I MISS YOU! i’ll be in valdizzy next week to see jeni’s baby- would love to finally see you!

      • Lisa on March 8, 2011 at 5:21 pm

        Sounds great. Hope Jeni & baby are doing well!

  3. Averie (LoveVeggiesAndYoga) on March 8, 2011 at 4:06 pm

    sweet potato chipotle fries look amazing!

    I love this post and all your tips, Gina!

    Going with your gut and trusting your intuition is huge. Agreed!

    I love the part about loud-talking trainers who disrupt the entire gym. Nothing like being the poor client of that trainer with 50 gym members staring you down b/c your loudmouth trainer does not have volume control and is being disruptive!

    And yes, there are always other fish in the sea when it comes to trainers. Look around, get personal recommendations, trust your gut, do your homework…all so important. not just with trainers, but in LIFE, too!

    I worked with a trainer very limitedly when preparing for my fitness competition. I met with him about 6 times total. I did everything on my own. I was too strapped for cash to pay him to workout with me or train me so I would go for an every other week check in session with him for an hour, ask my questions, and that was that. Great guy, but at $100 an hour, at the time, that was NOT in my budget other than twice a month.


  4. Katie~ Run For The Bikini on March 8, 2011 at 4:09 pm

    Thanks for this! I’m working on my ACE cert right now and it’s good to know what I can work on to make me the best trainer I can be 😀

  5. Matt Skeffington on March 8, 2011 at 4:31 pm

    If they don’t do a movement screening or assessment, find a new one.

    • Fitnessista on March 8, 2011 at 4:43 pm

      that’s an excellent tip

  6. wow thats so scary to think that people are out there being PTs without qualifications..there should be a place to report things like that..1000 calories a day is just so irrisponsible for someone to recomend

  7. LauraJayne on March 8, 2011 at 5:36 pm

    I LOVE the Alexia sweet potato fries – I’ve tried making my own, but they never compare – and while a little (maybe a lot) more expensive, they are totally worth it!

  8. Kristin @ Mugs & Pugs on March 8, 2011 at 6:13 pm

    I have worked out with a personal trainer before and really liked her. Her personality was great, we would chit chat some but she also ‘quietly’ challenged me which I liked. She was very encouraging and I definitely got a lot out of our sessions. I did not, however, feel like my body changed all that much like I expected it to. I wasn’t too bummed about it because I didn’t think I needed to lose a ton of weight. On a separate note, I will say that because of your blog my body has changed – for the better! I love your workout tips and workouts you suggest. I have been doing your workouts for nearly a year and have lost a pant size – maybe two – and roughly ten pounds! I have defined muscle in places I didn’t think I could, too! My intention in working out isn’t to lose weight, so that was great when that happened. I just wanted to be healthier and toned, and I have you to thank for that (and not my trainer!). Keep up the good work, I’m looking forward to hopefully another summer shape-up for this year! I’ve been meaning to write you for a while to say thanks, so I thought now was as good a time as any!

    • Fitnessista on March 8, 2011 at 7:29 pm

      wow, that is amazing!
      YOU keep up the good work- i had nothing to do with it 🙂

  9. Mel on March 8, 2011 at 6:15 pm

    I hired my first one on my 50th birthday. It just reinforced that I know enough
    to do the job on my own. It is a matter of doing the work and keeping the appt with myself. I also learned more about drop setting, super setting and how to get alot done in 30m. There were some machines in the gym I had never used and now I will begin to use on my own. This trainer was not anything like Jillian Michaels but I would like one that did more cardio with me, not just the wgts.

  10. Laura on March 8, 2011 at 6:30 pm

    I’ve hired a trainer on and off over the past few years as I’ve had the extra dinero to do so. I always liked having a guy because a lot of women can be too perky when it comes to the motivation thang. I don’t like that! The guy I see on and off (sounds like we’re dating!) is a bodybuilder but he also teaches boot camp classes and knows a lot in general about health and fitness. Plus, he’s funny which is a HUGE motivator for me. I like to at least be entertained as I spend a dollar a minute! My sister is also a personal trainer who is more into sports/functional training so I turn to her a lot for free advice. 😉

    I think your tips are good ones! Everyone is different so you really just have to get a feel for different trainers and see what works best for you.

  11. Erica on March 8, 2011 at 7:02 pm

    Will be trying that recipe for breakfast cookie dough cereal VERY SOON! And i love the tips for choosing a personal trainer. Very useful since I have contemplated the idea for a while!

  12. Lauren @NoFauxFood on March 8, 2011 at 8:40 pm

    I eat those alexia spicy sweet potato fries with sabra’s supremely spicy hummus. AAAAAHMAZING!!!!

    • Fitnessista on March 8, 2011 at 11:34 pm

      that sounds like an incredible combo!

  13. Chelsea @ One Healthy Munchkin on March 8, 2011 at 9:21 pm

    I’ve never had a personal trainer, but I was thinking about asking for a few sessions with one for my birthday. I feel like I need one in order to really learn how to do weights properly. Thanks for all the awesome tips! 🙂

  14. Tayla on March 8, 2011 at 10:35 pm

    Delightful article! As well as great blog post 🙂

    My sister found a really awesome, tough trainer who is 70..Trained football teams, and gives 30 min. killer sessions. I am joining her for the first time on Thursday. Curiously can’t wait 🙂

    Also, what is ‘standard process dairy free’? You may have said already, but I am slow ;/ thanks!

    • Fitnessista on March 8, 2011 at 11:26 pm

      it’s a type of protein powder my doc gave me. it tastes horrible haha

  15. Toronto Girl West on March 8, 2011 at 10:57 pm

    I’m a BIG believer that a great PT is worth his or her weight in gold! And that includes all those body building types that weigh a lot! 😛

    Seriously though, I worked with an AMAZING PT for years!!!! He helped me in a HUGE way and I could never re-pay him for what he did!!!

    Recently, I hired a new PT. She’s SUPER qualified and I had such high hopes. It’s turned out to be a giant fail. My biggest complaint is that I hired her to make me a meal and fitness plan (I don’t have issues with form, I just need someone I can check in on once in a while). Well it’s March and I have neither. To say I’m disappointed doesn’t even begin to describe the situation.

    Lesson learned.

  16. Alissa on March 8, 2011 at 11:09 pm

    I use to have an amazing trainer named Jen she was just what I wanted, a friend/person to talk to, really listened to what my goals were, taught me about diet, etc. She moved to a different gym and it went down hill from there. I was given to a newbie who was still in school and did the same work out each time, then she up and left and I was again past on. This time to a very nice guy but after a couple of session my work life got crazy and our schedules didn’t match up at all, due to him also still being in school. The problem was that he wouldn’t stop calling me to make appointments, I am talking about 3-5 times a week! It was crazy, the last straw was when I was in Fla. for my half marathon and he called wanting to know if we could set up an appt. I was like, um… you know the half marathon we have been working on, it’s tomorrow so no, but thank you. I have 100% completely stopped going to that gym and am looking for a new gym even though all my friends go to that one.

  17. s on March 8, 2011 at 11:10 pm

    yeaaa sun warrior promo!! (i swear, i read this entire post, i’ve just been waiting for a SW promo…)

  18. Talia on March 9, 2011 at 2:29 am

    When I moved to Los Angeles I joined a new gym and had a free training session that came with my new membership. The guy asked me a ton of questions about my workout history and i explained how I was working out hardcore about 1.5 hours a day 5x a week for about 6 months which i was REALLY proud of. He asked me how much weight I lost in that 6 months and I said about 10 pounds…doesn’t sound like a lot but I consistanly was increasing my weights and was getting stronger and more toned. He made me feel like crap by telling me that losing 10 pounds wasn’t that big of a deal. He did give me a great work out…and then tried to sell me a 2,000 dollar training package. Um thanks buddy!

    After a few months, I switched gyms and went to that free session as well…the guy asked me ZERO questions before he told me to go on a stationary bike (umm boring)! He told me to bike for 20 minutes and he would be back…well 40 minutes later he never came back and I saw him across the gym chatting it up with some chick. I was SO furious I just peaced out! AWFUL.

  19. Pinky on March 9, 2011 at 9:13 am

    Hi Gina, I’ve been reading your blog for a few months now and finally found the courage to comment. I love your workout tips and optimistic attitude. 🙂
    I hired my first personal trainer last summer because while I am petite like you and in decent shape, I found for the first time I couldn’t lose that layer around my tummy (cringe)! I did cardio on my own but really needed someone to push me to work on my core, and boy did I work. A friend of mine works at my gym and he matched me perfectly! My girl was super strict and pushed me hard, but still joked with me on the sides. I never wanted to quit because I felt I would dissappoint her.

    • Fitnessista on March 9, 2011 at 4:07 pm

      hey pinky,
      thanks so much for saying hi!
      you’re totally right- sometimes all you need is a little extra sumthin sumthin to get you the results you’re going for 🙂

  20. The Get In Shape Girl on March 9, 2011 at 6:22 pm

    As a trainer I understand the importance of also holding my clients accountable. Some trainer will do this, others won’t. I am constantly texting my clients randomly and posting on my FB status to make sure they are staying in check. I like to go the extra mile, some don’t.
    I also think it’s worthwhile to mention that your trainer should always be on time and shouldn’t continuously cancel and reschedule. I’ve gained clients because of other trainers at my gym not holding up their end of the deal for their clients.

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