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. chocolate-covered katie on March 8, 2011 at 10:52 am

    Ummmmm how did I miss this breakfast cookie dough cereal?

    As the BIGGEST cookie-dough-lover ever, I must go check it out! Like now.

    Adios, Gina! 🙂

  2. Lindsay @ LivingLindsay on March 8, 2011 at 10:53 am

    Thanks for the tips! I’ve been thinking about finding a trainer for my husband, but I know it has to be a good match for him. Don’t you just LOVE the Alexia sweet potato fries? We had the waffle ones last night, but I haven’t tried the chipotle….yummm!

    • Fitnessista on March 8, 2011 at 11:04 am

      they’re SO good. i could probably eat the entire bag, no prob

  3. Kara on March 8, 2011 at 10:55 am

    It might be wrong, but I always noticed that the trainers with the rocking bods were the busiest and the ones who looked a little like “before” pics didn’t get as much business. I’ve never had a trainer, but I’d probably go for the one with a rocking body too, just because I wouldn’t go to a overweight heart doctor, you know?

    • Fitnessista on March 8, 2011 at 11:03 am

      i just meant body type. don’t be scared of a body builder type if you don’t want to look like a body builder kinda thing. not physically fit is a totally different story.

      • Kara on March 8, 2011 at 11:13 am

        Gotcha. I’d totally request the hottest guy they have. That would be motivating for me. Can’t show weakness in front of the hot guy 🙂

        • Lisa on March 8, 2011 at 3:21 pm

          haha, so true! I could never do this though, because I am horribly unattractive when I workout (read: covered in sweat, grunting and all red and blotchy).

  4. natalie on March 8, 2011 at 10:58 am

    thanks so much for this post! i have been considering getting a personal trainer and this really helps!

  5. Stefanie @TheNewHealthy on March 8, 2011 at 10:58 am

    These are great tips! I’ve never actually had a personal trainer–but I will certainly keep these in mind if I choose to! A Jillian Michael’s type trainer who would kick my butt would probably be my style! 😉

  6. Sabine @ thefruitpursuit on March 8, 2011 at 11:00 am

    loved this post!


    • Fitnessista on March 8, 2011 at 11:01 am

      i don’t know. it’s crazy talk, really.

  7. Holly @ Couch Potato Athlete on March 8, 2011 at 11:03 am

    Thanks for the tips Gina — there are a bunch of trainers at my gym — and they are all different! I have thought about hiring a trainer for a few weeks — just to make sure my form is good, etc, but I haven’t made the leap yet. I’m still scoping them all out 🙂

    Would you give up all nut butter or just AB?

    • Fitnessista on March 8, 2011 at 11:07 am

      just almond butter. i would die without all of them, haha

  8. Allison @ Food For Healing on March 8, 2011 at 11:17 am

    awesome tips! its good to know definitely if someone is looking, and you know what your talkin bout!
    i haven’t thought about lent yet, oops!

  9. Michelle on March 8, 2011 at 11:17 am

    This is an awesome post! Thanks for doing it! 🙂 I’m hoping to run a marathon in late 2011/early 2012 so i’d want to work with a trainer for a month or two this summer to learn about strength training.

  10. Abby on March 8, 2011 at 11:20 am

    Hi Gina! Just a quick question: I remember seeing a bridal boot camp type workout on here a while back but now I can’t find it. Am I just crazy, or did this really exist on your blog? If so, where is it? Thanks a bunch!!

    P.S. Not the almond butter!!! haha

  11. Sherri O. on March 8, 2011 at 11:25 am

    Hi Gina! I had hired a personal trainer once when I was a member of a big fitness club in So. Cal. I was so frustrated with him because I was paying him money and all he was interested in was the next hot body that came in through the door. He would tell me certain things to do and while I struggled with the exercise, he was puffing out his chest and trying to hit on the women. Such frustration that I cancelled my whole gym membership.

  12. Danielle on March 8, 2011 at 11:43 am

    I met my personal trainer when I took a Pilaga class from him. I totally loved his training style, he was was really friendly but knew how to push us and never made you feel uncomfortable when he was helping adjust my form. I was putting off getting a trainer because it is expensive, but after he joined my boyfriend’s gym as a trainer I couldn’t put it off anymore!

  13. Valerie @ City|Life|Eats on March 8, 2011 at 11:49 am

    I need to try this approach to cookie dough cereal. And thanks for all the tips on personal trainers – I have never considered getting one because of cost, but I still appreciate the tips a lot.

  14. Krista @ Journey to a Healthy Berg on March 8, 2011 at 11:52 am

    I liked this post, thanks for all the tips!

  15. Sara on March 8, 2011 at 11:54 am

    Thanks for the insight! Those Alexia fries are my fave, by the way. So good!

  16. hippierunner on March 8, 2011 at 11:57 am

    I want to be a personal trainer someday and this was helpful!

  17. Katie on March 8, 2011 at 11:57 am

    I give you so much kudos if you give up AB for lent! I am still trying to figure out what to give up, I was going to give up wine But my bachelorette party is next month before lent is over , so no bueno!

    I never had a personal trainer, great tips girl!

    Have a beautiful day! xoxo <3

  18. SaraRM on March 8, 2011 at 12:00 pm

    I was lucky enough to work with a S&C coach of football at my alma mater to get in shape for my wedding. I can honestly say he completely changed my life. I learned so much from him and really found out that working out and being healthy is fun and doesnt have to be “work”. Long story short here I am 3 years later I have decided to start training myself. And thanks to your “why im a personal trainer” post I finally stopped dreaming and started working towards becoming a CPT with NASM.

    Side note: Ive never seen you mention ACSM… what are you thought about that one. Isnt it one of the most recognized certs?

    Good luck on the AB!!! I know it would be a sacrifice but isnt that the point?! 🙂

    • Fitnessista on March 8, 2011 at 1:00 pm

      yes, acsm is another excellent cert. i just threw out a handful- there are quite a few good ones out there

  19. Heather (heathers dish) on March 8, 2011 at 12:01 pm

    I have and it was amazing…it was a free session before I became a trainer and his style was hardcore bootcamp meets loving father figure. Crazy awesome 🙂

  20. Katelyn @ Chef Katelyn on March 8, 2011 at 12:02 pm

    I love! I need a personal trainer, it would be way better motivation when I’d rather be napping!

  21. M on March 8, 2011 at 12:20 pm

    Hi Gina – As a person who earned a Master of Science in Exercise Physiology, I think that it is crucial that you did not mention ACSM. The ACSM is the gold standard of certifications, and people should look for more than a CPT. An exercise specialist certification or something equal would signify that the trainer has at least a Bachelor’s degree in an exercise related field. You just cannot learn all that you have to in a single certification class.

    • Fitnessista on March 8, 2011 at 12:59 pm

      i just threw out a handful- didn’t forget that one intentionally. it’s up to everyone to research their trainer’s certs and see if it’s reputable

  22. Natalia - a side of simple on March 8, 2011 at 12:20 pm

    I’ve been wanting to try Alexia’s fries for so long now but their price tag is kind of holding me back. Plus, I don’t know which to try first! Any recommendations for a grocery shopping splurge?

  23. Tiffany T. on March 8, 2011 at 12:24 pm

    I had a personal trainer for three months and when I first started, I was given this former college football player who relied on his looks to get clients. He did a great standard workout but wasn’t attentive and I ended up scraping my knee really bad during a sprint since I wasn’t warmed up enough after doing squats and lunges.

    After that, I switched to an older woman who was incredibly toned and fit, very petite too. We had a great time during our sessions and she would constantly switch things up and work me based on what I had been doing that week at the gym. I loved working with her and if I didn’t move, I would have still worked with her. She taught me so much about nutrition and fitness!

  24. Amanda on March 8, 2011 at 12:25 pm

    In a crazy fit, I entered a personal training contract that I really, really don’t want. I only ever used two of the 48 sessions. Any advice for getting out of a contract?

    • Fitnessista on March 8, 2011 at 12:58 pm

      once you signed that line, all bets are off :/ i’ve been there, and its no fun!

  25. Geneviève on March 8, 2011 at 12:31 pm

    I have a (reader! 🙂 ) question for you: I work out later in the day (it’s the only free time in my day), which means that I stay up a max of 2-3 hours afterwards (often 2 hours). I keep reading everywhere that one should eat after working out, but I’m usually not very hungry, and mostly, I don’t really want to eat a “mini-meal” before going to bed. What do you think about not eating after working out? Big deal or no thang? 🙂 Oh, still loving your blog btw 😉

    • Fitnessista on March 8, 2011 at 12:58 pm

      i think you should definitely eat something after working out- an egg or small smoothie would even be fine. something 🙂

  26. Kim on March 8, 2011 at 12:36 pm

    I had a not-so-good experience with a personal trainer. I got one of those packages you mentioned from a big chain gym. She went over really basic machines with me that I already knew how to use, she looked around and didn’t talk to me except to say how many reps she wanted me to do, and then after our third session of this tried to push more on me. Since then I’ve used internet sources (like you!) and magazines. Next time I get a personal trainer, I won’t go through a big chain gym.

  27. Beth @ DiningAndDishing on March 8, 2011 at 12:37 pm

    I worked out with a personal trainer for a couple of months once. She was a nice lady but not quite what I was looking for. I didn’t feel like she really pushed me beyond the basics. If I go with a trainer again I will be sure to consider these tips!

  28. Katie on March 8, 2011 at 12:38 pm

    Wonderful post! 🙂 I worked all last year with a trainer who was a good friend in college. He was wonderful, but in the end I realized that working out in a gym really wasn’t my thang. I ended up canceling the training package (with 3 more sessions left) and eventually my gym membership. I did recommend him to my coworker who was looking for a trainer at the same gym. She loves him and is really happy with her decision. He was always so friendly and really pushed me (I was drenched in sweat at the end of every 30-minute session).

    I’m glad I worked with him because I really learned a lot about myself. I’m more of a yoga, dance, and outdoorsy kinda gal. 🙂

    • Katie on March 8, 2011 at 12:43 pm

      Oh I forgot to mention that the sheet of paper he would give me each month talking about how many calories, fat grams, protein grams, and grams of carbs I could and couldn’t eat got thrown in the trash. 😉 I know it was part of his job, but that part didn’t work for me. Seriously, eating over 200 grams of protein per day?? Yuck! And no carbs after dinner?? Get real. 😉 He was, however, very knowledgable and that sort of diet would be perfect for someone else. I’m not a diet person.

  29. Christin@purplebirdblog on March 8, 2011 at 12:40 pm

    My experience with a personal trainer started out okay, but he often missed appointments and occasionally would come in smelling like cigarettes (and also once with glitter on his face… turns out he had been at the strip club which was why he was late to our appointment)! O.o I terminated that relationship.

  30. Laura on March 8, 2011 at 12:41 pm

    Great post! A good personal trainer can totally change your life.

    I started working out with a personal trainer the summer after my freshman year of college. My mom and I signed up together at our local gym, but my mom ended up chickening out so I went alone. The trainer was amazing, and I ended up working with her all summer. While I didn’t necessarily lose weight (I didn’t really need to), the composition of my body completely changed and I lost 2 sizes. Plus I gained a completely new outlook on weight training and nutrition. My mom ended up trying it after I went back to school and had even more amazing results. Seven years later both my parents are training with the same women, who is now a close friend of theirs. I’m actually moving back to my hometown this summer for grad school and one of the things I’m most looking forward to is working out with her again!

  31. Ashley on March 8, 2011 at 12:49 pm

    I’ve never had a personal trainer. They offer them at my school but it’s a bit $ so I’ve never considered it. If I do I’ll remember these tips! Great post! 🙂

  32. jenna on March 8, 2011 at 12:49 pm

    your eats lately have looked so delicious!!! you inspired me yesterday to run out buy some shrimpies! they were amazing! 🙂 Now, i just need some cookie dough cereal in my life!

  33. Linz on March 8, 2011 at 12:51 pm

    First of all, I would be super impressed if you gave up the AB for lent. Get it girl, it will taste that much better when you bring it back in.

    Before I started working out with my trainer, I told the folks at the gym I was looking for someone who would push me to the max without yelling at me or making me cry. I got what I wanted and 2 years (and lots of fat lost) later I still love my trainer.

  34. britt will be fit on March 8, 2011 at 12:54 pm

    cute bowl!!!

  35. Tracey @ I'm Not Superhuman on March 8, 2011 at 12:59 pm

    Thanks for the great tips. My hesitation in getting a trainer at the gym is making sure the person know exactly how to train someone with an injury. I can’t tell you the number of times I’ve seen trainers helping people do leg extensions with a ton of weight. Every orthopedic surgeon I’ve met with (and unfortunately that’s a lot) agrees that’s a great way to ruin your knees.

  36. Angela @ Eat Spin Run Repeat on March 8, 2011 at 1:21 pm

    Great tips Gina!! I got a bit lucky with my choice of trainer – I knew his certifications beforehand and knew that he was employed through my gym, but had never seen him in action with other clients because he was brand new to the gym I go to. I took a bit of a risk by purchasing sessions, but I’m SO glad I did because he’s awesome and I’ve had some great results so far.

  37. Annette @ EnjoyYourHealthyLife on March 8, 2011 at 1:25 pm

    I agree with these tips- be careful of qualifications and watch them in action before choosing. Too often at my gym (Where I teach BodyPUMP,Zumba,and Pilates) I see trainers who are chitchatty and may be bugging the client. Make sure personalities match!!!!

  38. Laura on March 8, 2011 at 1:29 pm

    Only had a personal trainer as a freebie when I joined a gym. I think I would need to be like Charlotte in SATC where she has to hire a lawyer that she isn’t attracted to because she wants to be tough when taking on Bunny. I think I would need a trainer like that. No distractions, just butt kicking 🙂

    I love Alexia’s Sweet Potato Fries, sooo good.

  39. PB Addict on March 8, 2011 at 1:39 pm

    These are really useful tips – thanks for posting! I had a consult with a trainer at my gym before but he was way too pushy into buying packages that cost at minimum $5000 a year and seemed reluctant to negotiate a small fee for a shorter period of time, so that was discouraging.

  40. MMiller on March 8, 2011 at 1:40 pm

    I had a 3 session pkg with a personal trainer once. He was a really nice guy and basically just measured my fitness level and gave me a program to try to follow! It was great to get me started, knowing the proper way to use the equipment the best way possible for me! But he was very concerned with pushing me as I was just getting over some health issues! It was just a special with the gym I had joined at the time, so I jumped at the chance!

  41. Danielle @ InDeesKitchen on March 8, 2011 at 1:48 pm

    Great tips!! Thank you 🙂

  42. Laura @FoodSnobSTL on March 8, 2011 at 1:48 pm

    I got a free training session when I joined my gym, and I said no at least three times about buying a package. The problem is that the trainer still words at the gym so I see her every time I go. I hate feeling like i have to avoid her so I don’t have to say no again. I know it is her job, but I will never do the free sessions again.

  43. Shanna @ Shanna LIke Banana on March 8, 2011 at 2:04 pm

    I’ve hired two personal trainers. A guy before my wedding who got rid of over 5% bodyfat in 2.5 months and a girl who did nothing for me because she was too busy on FB the whole time. Argh.

  44. Runeatrepeat on March 8, 2011 at 2:09 pm

    I love that Pitbull song!!!

  45. Lauren on March 8, 2011 at 2:19 pm

    I finally made some amazeballs and I loveeeeee them! Thanks for sharing your great idea!!

  46. Colleen on March 8, 2011 at 2:52 pm

    I worked at the front desk of a big name chain gym and you are dead on with the pushy trainers! They would do ANYTHING for a sale, and promised unrealistic results to a lot of people. The scales in our gym were even 6 pounds too heavy to make people think they weighed more than they did and motivate them to get a trainer!

    • Fitnessista on March 8, 2011 at 3:14 pm

      REALLY? ahhhh!

  47. McPinks on March 8, 2011 at 2:53 pm

    Great post! – But as someone who’s about to get her certification soon and hopefully start working and helping people how do you suggest someone with no experience gain some if no one will hire them???

    Everyone has to start somewhere.

    • Fitnessista on March 8, 2011 at 3:14 pm

      thats how i had to start, too, and to be real, i wasn’t very good when i started. you’ll learn by shadowing others and practicing– train your friends!

      • McPinks on March 8, 2011 at 3:28 pm

        Yeah – I have some friends lined up for that! I don’t expect to be amazing at first either but gotta build up the confidence somehow!

  48. Michelle @ Turning Over a New Leaf on March 8, 2011 at 2:58 pm

    I had a trainer for about two months. She does figure competitions as well. I actually really liked her personality, and I think we meshed well. My employer (a university) has an option in our corporate wellness program that they have three certified trainers (who also happen to be faculty/staff) who offer discounted rates for personal training. $10/hr!! It’s pretty awesome! Unfortunately, I couldn’t afford to continue. 🙁

  49. Ashley on March 8, 2011 at 3:09 pm

    Great tips, Gina! I’ve only used a trainer twice ever (got 2 free times when I joined a gym), but it was definitely one of those cookie-cutter everyone-gets-the-same-workout type of things. I learned a little, but it wasn’t right for me longterm.

  50. Maxine on March 8, 2011 at 3:19 pm

    Thank you for posting this! It is not cheap to work with a trainer so you want to find the best one and it can be tough to read past the lipservice. To make my final decision, I went a step further and asked the trainer to provide me with a reference from a current or past client who had the same goal as mine (mine was to rehab patello femural syndrome).

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