How to Hire a Personal Trainer

It’s almost a new year, the time when tons of people get really gung-ho about losing weight, joining a gym, running in the park and hiring a personal trainer. Most people, even savvy New Yorkers, need to know the specifics of hiring a personal trainer as the fitness industry has changed radically in the past few years. Hiring the right personal trainer, not just any trainer, can be a decision that will either enhance the rest of your life or quickly end in frustration and wasted time and money. How do you know what to look for when hiring a personal trainer?

Unlike any other city in the world, New York City is unique.  It’s and fast, furious and fabulous. We are discerning, demanding and expect the best.

However, New Yorkers can also be like the rest of the country in that they still believe in exercise methods and diet concepts that are outdated, ineffective and downright unhealthy.

Many New Yorkers are overwhelmed, overworked, underslept, underfed, chronically dehydrated, exhausted and addicted to caffeine.

We might not have a lot of obese adults in Manhattan, but love handles, manboobs, pooch belly, spare tires, flabby arms and struggling to get going in the morning are all very common, unhealthy and signs of an imbalanced lifestyle.

For people that live in the ‘city that never sleeps,’ it is wise to find a professional who understands our unique lifestyle and can adapt a fitness or wellness program to help us get the best results and not simply beat us up in the gym. Exercise does not always have to be hard to be effective.

This is a new era of fitness and wellness coaching and the old days of dieting and ‘no pain, no gain’ although still popular, are not healthy.

Here are a few tips that will help you find the best personal trainer who can help you get the best results if you live in New York City.

First, the best way to find a trainer is to get a referral from a friend who is satisfied with their experience and who has results to show that their personal trainer is expert.

But if you don’t have a friend who is working with a personal trainer, follow my top 11 tips for what to look for when hiring a personal trainer in the ‘city that never sleeps.’

1. Website – it is now 2009 and even teenagers are internet experts with their own websites. A professional trainer should have a website or at least a webpage with some information about his education, experience and their specialty. Go online to find a trainer in your area. Look for testimonials and see if the trainer has worked with people like you and knows how to get results.

2. Consultation – You should meet with and discuss your goals, needs and ultimately see if there is synergy. If the prospective trainer is not listening at least 80% of the time during the consultation – find a better personal trainer.

3. Audit – you should be able to see what the trainer does and how they work with their clients. It is a good idea to arrange this before hand so you can see your potential trainer work with someone. This way you get an accurate idea of what you will be doing together.

4. Specialized – does this personal trainer specialize in your particular needs or do they specialize in 12 different areas (not a good sign)? There are many areas of specialization, from sport specific, corporate wellness, gender, pregnancy, age, lifestyle, holistic health, mind body fitness all the way to injury type or certain health challenges.  It is critical for you to get the best trainer who specializes in your specific issues so you get the best results.

5. Customized – An expert personal trainer should design a program based on an individualized assessment. If the trainer does not perform some sort of structured assessment of your current stress levels and physical readiness, find a better trainer.

6. Education – there are over 200 fitness certifications today and most of them are meaningless. Everyone you ask will give you a different opinion. Certifications don’t guarantee anything.

I know trainers who are great people, and well educated, but have poor communication skills and don’t know how to get results. I know real experts who have no formal education at all, are brilliant and get amazing results. The most respected organizations, in my opinion, are CHEK, GIFT, PICP, FMS, NASM, NSCA, IYCA, MAT, ART and Dax Moy (in the UK) to name a few good ones. A college degree in exercise, sports science or kinesiology may also have some relevance, but again, you have to look at the whole picture, not just their degrees or certifications.

7. Experience – more important than their education, is how much and what type of experience does this personal trainer have? Just because someone is employed at New York City’s ‘best’ health club and looks good in a polo shirt means nothing. Find someone with experience working with people who have a similar health status and goals as you.

8. Personality – look for someone who you will enjoy working with and is professional, intelligent, with excellent communicator skills. Find someone who is compassionate, but not a push over. You want someone confident, not cocky. You want to enjoy your session and leave feeling better than when you came in, but don’t let it turn into a ‘hang out’ session.

9. Support & Accountability – find someone who will keep you accountable and knows how to keep you on track without making you feel guilty.  Find out what type of support does they offer? Do they have a blog where you can share your experiences with other clients? Do they offer workshops, materials, a manual, email or phone support?

10. Price – In this department, I often say ‘you get what you pay for.’ These days, there are ‘celebrity’ trainers who are clueless at fitness & nutrition, they just happen to be liked by a celebrity who (also knows nothing about health & fitness) endorses them. Most often but not always, you get what you pay for. Find out what value they bring to their clients? What services do they offer and what kind of support? Don’t ask how much your trainer costs. Ask how much it will cost if you don’t hire a coach. Ask yourself, what are your health, vitality, well-being, appearance and longevity worth to you?

11. Results — Finally, you want to find someone who knows how to get results. This is the bottom line. This should be evident on their website and when speaking to their clients. Regardless of their website or credentials or marketing slogans, how good are they really? Talk to their clients and meet people who can verify the quality of work and the results they provide.

Take these rules into consideration when looking for a personal trainer in New York City, this will help you find the right match and develop a successful long term relationship that pays off big time.

Antonio Valladares is a New York City based Certified Personal Trainer, Corrective Exercise Kinesiologist, Licensed Massage Therapist, Nutritionist. He has specialized in a holistic or whole person, approach to women’s fitness and fat loss since 1994. Check out Antonio’s women’s fitness & fat loss website:

Check out a video of Antonio’s personal training clients CLICK HERE



3 Comments on How to Hire a Personal Trainer

  1. These personal trainer tips are right on!
    This is great input on making a choice, also great for trainers to keep in mind as they do their job. Too many consumers either fail to think about what makes a good personal trainer; or they simply don’t know. Therefore, they are not matched up with the best fitness pro for them.

  2. Cool site you have, the articles here are very helpful. Thanks! :D

  3. Sweet, that’s exactly what I was looking for! You just saved me alot of work :)

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