• Tom Toth

Top 3 Things to Look For when Hiring a Personal Trainer

Updated: Apr 30, 2019

If you're looking for a personal trainer, here's the 3 major characteristics you should look for.

Why hire a personal trainer?

With the new year coming up, you might be thinking about hiring a personal trainer to jump-start your New Year’s resolutions about fitness and nutrition. A good trainer can help you get fit, lose weight and get your eating on track. They can also provide the mental support you might need to push through those tough days when a workout is the last thing on your mind.. Good trainers  know when to push you, and when to back off (recovery days are thing, people!) But what should you look for in a good trainer? After all, trainers are not cheap and making most of your hard earned money is important. Having been in the fitness industry for over 15 years, there are three attributes that I have identified that are common in all really good trainers.

1. Good trainers are busy

This is true for any industry, but especially so for a primarily referral-based business like personal training. If a trainer is really good, he will have lots of referrals from existing clients. Unfortunately this makes it difficult sometimes to find a common schedule with a potential new client, such as yourself. It’s worth figuring it out, though. The benefits of hiring someone who is really good at their job always outweigh the time-management difficulties you may encounter.

2. Good trainers never stop learning

The fitness and nutrition industry is evolving at a rapid pace, and new science emerges all the time. Just consider the controversy over fat consumption, for example.

The truth is that not all long-term trainers really enjoy what they are doing. Some are simply stuck and just put in the hours. You want to find one who considers fitness his or her calling. These are the people who have an entire library of work-related books, who have dozens of certifications and who can’t stop talking about the cool stuff they just read on some other trainer’s blog. Not only are they the smartest folks around, they also tend to infect their clients with their enthusiasm for exercise and living healthily.

3. Good trainers ask lots of questions, all the time

My standard opening line, practically every training session that I do: “So how are things feeling mentally, physically, emotionally?” I then ask a few more detailed questions based on the answer to that generic one. Good trainers cater each workout to the client’s current state of being, while working from a program outline. I’ve had lots of training sessions where the plan went out the window as soon as my client walked in through the door, bearing the mental burden of bad news or a sleepless night.

The most important time a trainer needs to ask lots of questions, though, is when they are about to start working with a new client. A good trainer will assess a new client in multiple ways, not just physical fitness. Time management, sleep habits, nutritional status all affect whether someone’s fitness goals are achievable, or even realistic. Without a lot of questions, the trainer will have little idea of what he’s working with, and therefore will be mostly shooting in the dark when forming a training and nutrition plan.

How to find a good trainer

The easiest way is to ask for referrals from friends or family, of course, but just because they like a trainer, does not mean he or she will be a good fit with you. You can post in a local social media circle or Kijiji, and interview a few of the applicants. Ask lots of questions: experience level specific to your needs, how many hours he or she is working, which certifications they hold. It’s also okay to change your mind after starting with someone. It’s hard to know sometimes whether trainer-client relationships will work, even if on paper everything looks compatible. Remember, your trainer may be by your side for many years. Finding the best candidate might take some effort, but it is extremely worth it in the end.

If you live in mid-town Toronto, and are looking for an experienced trainer, contact me at or 416-528-5463. With my 15 years of full-time experience, a wall full of certifications and a vast array of clients from every walk of life, I'm sure I can help you out.

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