How to spot a good trainer

How to spot a good personal trainer
Grow Like Oak

How to spot a good personal trainer

Are you on the look out for a personal trainer?  Maybe it’s your first experience with a trainer, or you’ve had a bad experience in the past.

A personal trainer will be your rock.  They’re the one you’ll trust with your body. The one you expect to give you sound advice on what you need now and down the line.  They’ll very likely become a friend, and you’ll go through some ups and downs with them.

I’ve been asked this question a few times in the past – What makes a good personal trainer & how will I know when I have my first session (which should always be complimentary by the way)?

So here’s the 5 things, in my mind, that you wanna see in your potential trainer:

1 – Enthusiasm 

Are they happy to see you when you arrive?  Do you sit down for at least 5 minutes and does he or she listen to what you have to say.

More importantly than your goals or your injury concerns, do they ask you about YOU?  And do they genuinely seem interested? If they care about you, you know they’ll care about your progress and the detail they put into your program.

2 – Goals 

Of coarse they need to know what you want to achieve.  In asking about your goals, do they dig a bit deeper down the rabbit hole?  I know you’ve only just met, but do they ask WHY you want to achieve these goals?  How it’ll make you feel when you get there?

This to me, indicates that they understand goal setting and the mindset of success.  A number on a scale is arbitrary.   The emotions behind your goals is what really counts.

3 – Injury 

Do they address injury? This is an important factor.  A trainer should already know about previous injury or slight niggles from the beginning, so that they’re already thinking about the direction your assessment takes.

From there they should be performing some form of movement screen to identify any discrepancies or imbalances. Do they check your range of motion and fundamental movement patterns?

It may only take a matter of minutes, but if they’re not doing this, and giving you a heads up of what they find, I wouldn’t be heading back for session two.

4 – Feedback 

Now this is a bit of a grey zone. We’re all different in the way we respond to a personal trainer. Some want to hear the science involved in it all, and others couldn’t care less.  Some respond to being pushed, while others don’t necessarily need that right now.

Is your trainer responsive and adaptable to what you’re giving back? There should  be a balance.  They should be telling you why they’re choosing one exercise over another, and providing feedback on what they see.  However, if it’s all talk and no action, you may not get what you came to achieve.

Lastly, is their feedback mainly positive?  Listen out for the do’s and don’t’s. You want your trainer to guide you with positive reinforcement even if your movement does resemble Quasimodo.

5 – The Wrap Up

Do they debrief after your session?  A good personal trainer will have a plan in their mind of where to go from here.  They should share with you what your first 6 weeks might look like and a rough focus the up coming 3 to 6 months.

If they refer back to your goals and some important things you mentioned earlier, you’ve got a trainer that cares.  eg: “We’ll work on strengthening your core because you said you get a bit of lower back pain, and it’ll also make you more powerful when you’re on the weekend hikes that you love”.


So that’s my top 5 things to look out for in a personal trainer.  Ultimately, I think you should go with your gut.  You can use these tips to confirm what you already feel about your potential trainer.   

‘til next time


Like an Oak, we grow slowly but surely



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