Should you hire a Personal Trainer?

Should you hire a Personal Trainer?

Step into any gym and you will be greeted with a staff of people who want to help you reach your goals. Most of these people have personal weight loss success stories and others are professional athletes or aspiring to be one. As a personal trainer, I have a behind the scenes look into the world of fitness and training clients for a wage. Is it really worth it to hire a personal trainer? If you do hire one, should you go with a corporate commerical gym trainer or an independent studio trainer?


I started my fitness journey back in senior year of high school which I have suffered with my weight ever since I was 12 or 13 years old. It seemed like after I entered puberty, my metabolism shut down and my appetite increased. Anyone who has ever suffered with weight problems knows that it can take a toll on your self-esteem and self-confidence. I always wore hoodies when I was in high school to try to mask my fatness. I had such low self esteem that I couldn’t even look you in the eye or shake your hand. I thought I was inferior to everyone around me and not deserving of even being looked at.

Now your story of getting in shape might be different then mine, but I have been in your shoes and experienced the turmoil that being out of shape causes. Not only was I teased and bullied, but my relationships with my friends and family also went down the drain. It wasn’t until senior year that I decided “enough is enough” and “I’m never going to be out of shape ever again”.

Fast forward two years later and I was working at Bally Total Fitness as a AAAI/ISMA Certified Level 3 Personal Trainer. Now the question ‘should you hire a personal trainer’ depends on several factors. A few things you should look for in a trainer, whether that be at a commercial gym or at an independent studio will differ from person to person.

The first and most obvious determining factor of whether this person would be a good trainer is how they look. Now I am not saying to find the hottest male or female trainer but look at their physique. Do they have the look you want or don’t they? You should take advice from someone who you want to look like and is living proof. If they have the body that you want but you don’t, obviously they are doing something that you don’t know about. If you want to look like a bikini model, take advice from someone who has that look. If you want to be a football player or a bodybuilder, take advice from someone who has that particular look.

The next component to a good personal trainer is knowledge and application. What I mean by this is during the consultation, ask the trainer ‘how did you become a trainer’ or ‘what made you get certified’. These are important questions to ask your trainer before shelling out any money for their services. Do they walk the walk and talk the talk or do they just talk a big game? Are they living proof of the techniques and rules that they practice during their workouts and nutrition regimens? Do they sell you only necessary products or are they out to sell you every item in the gym?

Personally when I was working as a trainer, I didn’t do much product sales since I didn’t believe it was necessary to a quality physique. Supplements are exactly that. They are to supplement your diet, not to replace it. I would typically have a potential client track their eating and workout habits in a log for at least 3 days and analyze. Afterwards I would take before photos and then analyze each muscle group to see what we need to bring up. After that, I go deeper into each individual part of that particular muscle. For example, if I have a client who is lacking in their shoulder definition, is the long head, medial head, or posterior head that is lacking. From there, I match their goals to their workout plan. I take multiple measurements with a skinfold caliper, scale, and measuring tape to get their dimensions. Afterwards, I will analyze their eating habits and figure out what types of foods they crave and make simple substitutions and alterations in their diet to where they get to enjoy those same foods but with different ingredients or smaller portions. Finally, I take them through a simple baseline workout to gauge their fitness level through strength, endurance, and flexibility.

As you can see there are many components to being a good trainer. Do I claim to be the best or to be the most knowledgeable? No. I’m still learning after 8 years and I will continue to learn. But what you need to do is find that one individual who is hungry to be a better trainer each and every day. Rather than just trying to make a sale with you.

When deciding to go with a commercial trainer or an independent, there are many benefits and negatives to both. If you go with a commercial gym trainer, these individuals are typically paid hourly or salary and need to meet a sales quota to either keep their job or to continue to make more money. They will probably try pressuring you into buying from them or to buy a product. The benefit to a commercial trainer, is that the faculty they work at has more equipment and resources. They also have a larger selection of locations and products. An independent trainer is typically not on salary or hourly. They are normally independent business owners or are paid based on how many clients they can bring into the studio. They have to go out and get their clients rather than the clients coming to them since that studio is typically in one location. They are more likely to want you to hit your goals instead of just making a paycheck and the relationship you have with them will be more personal. Almost all of small business owners or independent trainers have some sort of a personal success story and can relate better to you and what you are feeling. The downside to an independent is that there is typically one facility, less members, and less products or equipment. Some independents are mobile and will train you in the comfort of your own home or virtually through the internet.

I have personally worked as a commercial and independent trainer and I would say from my perspective, the commercial gym is better from an employment standpoint since I am guaranteed a paycheck. When I was an independent trainer, I had to go out and market myself and get my own clients.

At the end of the day, your decision to hire a trainer is up to you but you want to make sure that the person you hire knows what he or she is doing and has your best interest in mind. If they are pressuring you into buying from them or to get an entire supplement stack, steer clear. Even while working at the commercial gym, I was never a ‘used car salesman’ and try to sell you every item or service we had. Even though I had to meet a sales quota, I flat out refused to sell items I didn’t believe in. I even taught functional training classes for free and didn’t market the class unless I was required. Several times while training a client, I did the workout with them so I could experience what they were going through as well to relate better with them. It is amazing how easy it is to get certified as a trainer so please be wary of the person you hire. Trust your gut and make your decision based on the relationship rather than the price. I charged nearly $120-150 per session when training my clients when working at Bally Total Fitness. But whether I was a commercial trainer or an independent, I was very thorough with my clients and followed up with them weekly.

If you do not want to take the time to teach yourself about health and fitness, this blog is completely free and I might suggest some products or services but I am in no way trying to sell just anything. I only have products and services in my store that I have either personally used myself or that I have studied in depth about. If you do want to educate yourself rather than hiring a trainer, I think that would benefit you in the long run. The reason is because no one knows your body better than you. The fitness industry is not an exact science so there isn’t a ‘one size fits all’ approach. Learn more about your body and the way your body reacts to different types of stimuli. What works for me may not work for you. This is why I took the time to continually follow up with my past clients and make sure that there is  measurable results, no matter how big or small. My recommendation for learning more about fitness, nutrition, and supplementation is to try BodyByBoyle. This website is a resource for several personal trainers to stay current in the industry. But it isn’t just for trainers. People at different activity levels and experience would get some new information from this website. From NFL Combine to bodybuilding to just getting healthier, everyone would learn something new from trying out this website. To be honest, this website would probably serve you better than hiring a trainer. Not only that but it’s much cheaper!


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