How to Pick The Right Trainer

Author - Stephen Griffith C.S.CS


A few years ago I purchased an off brand bike. On my first ride the pedal snapped off, and I careened into a ditch off the side of the road.  

Bloody and bruised I learned the valuable lesson that quality makes a big difference.

Reputable companies use quality control standards to ensure that the product you bought is the same product you were sold. Quality control also assures that the product is reliable and safe to use.

I bring this up because the fitness industry has no quality control. If you can pass a multiple choice test and have a few hundred dollars you too can be a personal trainer. I have seen too many people hurt by inexperienced trainers prescribing ill-advised exercise and I want better for you.

While there are many poor trainers in the industry, there are also many good ones. Ones who got into the industry for the right reasons and are passionate about their craft. Working with a good trainer is the best way to get fast results while learning how to take care of your body.  

Today I want to show you what to look for so you can choose a quality trainer and avoid getting hurt or wasting your money. 

First, let's look at the key qualities that make for a good trainer.

Key Qualities

The Trainer Cares

You don’t want a trainer that views you as a paycheck. You want a trainer that cares about your well-being and success.  A trainer that cares will always look out for your best interest. They will strive to provide an excellent service by putting the extra effort to make sure you have everything you need for success.

Dedication to their craft

All the best trainers I know are passionate about their craft. A good trainer is always looking to learn and improve so they can best serve your needs. A good trainer knows his craft and knows how to teach it.  


Often people will choose a trainer based on aesthetics - “that guy looks like how I want to look”. However, there are many trainers in the industry who look the part but can't coach it.  A good trainer should be able to  communicate his craft clearly to you.

Listen to how the trainer speaks. Can you understand what is being said?


Integrity is the quality of being honest and having strong moral principles. A good trainer is one that is always looking out for your best interest - not trying to sell you supplements you do not need.


There are many ways to motivate - from positive feedback to the boot camp style “My grandma lifts heavier weights than you!”. Regardless of style, every quality trainer possesses the ability to keep you the trainee motivated and engaged in the program.

Finding the right fit

Less important than having the best trainer is having the right trainer. Finding a trainer that's right for you will ensure your sessions are enjoyable, engaging, and something you will stick with.

Know thyself

The first step to finding the right trainer is knowing what you want.

  • Start by asking yourself what your goals are, and what you would like to achieve.
  • Ask yourself what traits are important to you in a trainer?
  • Ask what kind of training you enjoy or would like to learn?

Once you know what you're searching for, it will be much easier to find a trainer who fits your needs. Below are a few things to consider.


Every trainer has a certain philosophy that guides their decisions. My personal philosophy starts with the Hippocratic oath of “do no harm”. I focus on mastery of the fundamentals, gradual progress, and helping my clients reach a point where they can feel comfortable and confident coming into the gym and working out on their own. I believe that for true success one must take a holistic approach which includes, movement, nutrition, rest, and stress management.

Other trainers have different philosophies. Some may focus on machine and bodybuilding techniques. Others may focus on high-intensity training. What's important is finding a philosophy that makes sense to you and your needs.


If you have a specific goal like running a marathon, using kettlebells, or upping your deadlift, then you will want a trainer who has a specialty in that domain. They will be better able to teach you the skill and navigate the nuances of the activity.


Next, ask yourself about the type of personality that jives with you. Do you need a trainer who is patient and a good listener? One that will be your own personal cheerleader?    Or do you want a boot camp style marine barking orders at you? Find what fits you.

How to Find the right trainer

Many gyms will offer a complimentary session. To make the most of these start by knowing what you want beforehand. Be upfront and clear so the manager can set you up with the right person. You should approach getting a trainer like any other large purchase. During the session do your due diligence and ask questions.

Actions speak louder than words and the best way to find a good trainer is to watch the trainers at your gym train. Are they attentive to their clients, are their clients engaged, are they coaching the movements or standing idly by counting reps. Listen and watch -  if you like what you see request a complimentary session to try it out. Ask about other clients they've trained that are similar to you. Additionally you may ask to talk to their clients and ask for their opinions.

Closing Notes

A good trainer is like a GPS. You pick a destination and we help provide you with the most efficient route. When you make a wrong turn, face a detour or encounter an unforeseen obstacle, we use our knowledge to adjust the route and keep you moving forward. No need to get lost and waste your time.

Use the information in this article to help you distinguish between a quality trainer who's the right fit for you. Don't make the mistake of choosing the cheaper option thinking all trainers are equal or you'll end up with me off the side of the road.

Stephen Griffith