What is a Personal Trainer-and Should You Hire One

personal trainingIn this article, the focus is on certified personal trainers. Although there may be some non-certified skilled and knowledgable un-certified personal trainers out there, having a certification from a highly accredited fitness education company, like NASM (National Academy of Sports Medicine), ISSA (International Sports Science Association), and AFAA (Athletics and Fitness Association of America), to name a few, places certified personal trainers at a much more qualified level than un-certified personal trainers.

The final exam, with any of the highly reputable platforms, is extremely difficult. Only 65% of the people who attempt the NASM certification exam, pass on their first try.

I am studying for the personal training certification through NASM now. The chapters I’ve studied thus far are challenging, to say the least.

Once I pass the exam, I will have the knowledge and skill to work as a certified personal trainer. So…what is a personal trainer, and should you hire one?

A certified personal trainer is a fitness expert that has the ability to perform individualized assessments and design safe, effective, and scientifically-based exercise and conditioning programs that are customized for each client. These clients must present with no medical issues that have not been cleared by their doctor.

The exercise programs are designed only after the personal trainer

1. Gathers a health history and a physical activity readiness questionnaire (Par-Q),

2. Identifies any barriers to exercise and comes up with a strategy to overcome such barriers,

3. Has helped the client set some fitness and health goals

4. Discusses what, if anything, the client has tried in the past.

Qualifications of a Personal Trainerpersonal training

The qualifications of a good personal trainer begin with certification. When the personal trainer obtains their certification from an accredited agency, like NASM, he/she has the knowledge and skills necessary to be considered an expert in fitness. This certification should be from a national certifying organization.

A personal trainer must be able to provide guidance to help clients set personal fitness, health, and performance goals. Then the personal trainer designs a customized exercise program that gives the client a path to follow that leads to the accomplishment of said goals.

A qualified personal trainer will know how to first use a health history questionnaire to uncover any medical issues that may need to be addressed before beginning an exercise program. Once medically cleared, the client will partake in a physical assessment that lets the personal trainer know what level of training the client should begin with.

A certified personal trainer will have the practical and scientific knowledge to tailor fitness training programs for clients based on the clients’ assessment results, likes and dislikes, goals, and abilities.

Certified personal trainers must have a working knowledge of the muscles, joints, and nerves involved with each movement. A qualified personal trainer will be able to recognize muscle imbalances in their clients and work on correcting these imbalances before moving on to other muscle movements.

To be qualified, the personal trainer must be able to design exercise programs that help to correct any issues related to posture. Once the posture is corrected, then the personal trainer will design another exercise program that focuses on the client’s goals.

The qualified personal trainer will know how to help their clients set “SMART” goals. S.M.A.R.T stands for Specific. Measurable. Attainable. Realistic. and Time-specific. An example of a smart goal is “I want to lose 30 lbs. in 4 months”. It is specific, measurable (how much weight to lose in how many months), attainable (it is safe to lose 1-2 lbs per week and it can be done over 4 months), realistic (it is definitely doable), and time-sensitive (4 months).

The personal trainer will help the client make both long-term, and short-term goals. Long-term goals would be goals set to be met anywhere from 6 months out to several years. Short-term goals include daily and weekly goals as well as any goals that will be attained before 6 months.

To be qualified a personal trainer must be able to demonstrate the correct alignment of the body parts as he/she performs any exercise that has been made a part of a client’s exercise program. Also, he/she should be able to identify when a client needs their form corrected, both preventing injury, and getting maximum benefits of each exercise.

Certified personal trainers will, over time, be able to test the effectiveness of the programs they design by taking before and after pictures and accurately documenting milestones in their clients’ progress notes.


Different Types of Personal Trainers

Personal trainers all come in different sizes and shapes. Some personal trainers only work online. Some have both online clients and in-person clients.

Many personal trainers only work with specific populations. Some may only work with athletes (this usually requires a specialized certification called Performance Enhancement Specialization certification). These personal trainers work with athletes who want to be able to perform their sport at the optimum capacity. The trainer will include power exercises to help the athlete.

There are personal trainers that work only with people in a specific age category, like 30-40 year-olds, or only people over 50. Many elderly people can benefit from simple exercise programs that are designed to increase strength, flexibility, and balance. This will enable the older person to be able to live without assistance of some type.

There are also personal trainers that specialize in weight loss. These trainers are able to design individual fitness plans that help the client burn fat and tone muscle. Some personal trainers are also certified nutrition coaches, which comes in handy here.

I named a few different types of trainers. There are many more. By narrowing down the population of people to work with, a personal trainer can give more personalized services to their clients.

Benefits of Hiring a Personal Trainer

Many people can benefit from hiring a personal trainer, who is able to meet the client where the client is at. In other words, a personal trainer can work with clients that are starting from different levels of fitness.

However, the majority of personal training clients come from a sedentary and deconditioned population. This leaves much room for the personal trainer to make a difference in the lives of their clients. This is exciting to me. I aim to be a personal trainer that can provide life-changing results from the exercise programs I design.

Hiring a personal trainer is a good idea for many people. Some people lack the motivation to keep them exercising regularly. A personal trainer requires that their clients check in for progress updates and to make any changes to their exercise programs. This will provide clients with accountability. Everyone can use some accountability.

A personal trainer helps a client figure out their “why”. As in “why should I exercise”? The client will discover that there is a long list of reasons why they should exercise regularly.

Some people may need to hire a personal trainer temporarily. These people know how to exercise, they just don’t know how to design an exercise schedule that will give them the best results. Once a trainer helps the client reach some specific goals, the client is able to continue working out on their own.fitness

In order to prevent injuries from performing exercises the wrong way, or performing exercises that are too advanced, many people hire a personal trainer to teach them how to properly perform the movements of each exercise safely and effectively. Personal trainers help their clients with proper body mechanics during exercises. You could do 100 squats incorrectly and it will be less effective than doing 15 correctly.

A personal trainer will also help his/her client identify barriers to regular exercise and comes up with strategies to overcome these barriers. For example, a client that is super busy states that they don’t have time to exercise. The personal trainer can design a program that has the client performing specific exercises for 10 minutes 3-5 times a day. This will make regular exercise possible for the busy client.

Personal trainers are needed today more than ever. With technology taking away physically active jobs, and desk jobs limiting the physical activity that is needed to maintain optimal health, too many people are living sedentary lives. A personal trainer will help the client meet their health and fitness goals by meeting them where they are.

The American Heart Association encourages Americans to perform 150 minutes of moderate cardio activity a week, and strength training 2-4 days a week. Too many people are overweight or obese in our country. Americans need to get moving.

Costs of Hiring a Personal Trainer

The cost of a personal trainer varies. An online personal trainer is cheaper than an in-person personal trainer. It depends on how many live sessions are done per month or week. It also depends on whether it includes nutritional coaching services.

In-person services can range from $80-$220 per hour. Online services are usually paid monthly or weekly. The average cost of a personal trainer that provides a one-hour consultation to start is from $60-$250 for the initial consultation. Then it depends on the package one may select. The average cost per month for an individualized exercise and nutrition program that includes weekly check-ins and one live hour-long session per month is from $150-$250 per month. The prices go up from there as you add on more live online sessions. The average cost of each one-hour online live, or on-the-phone session ranges from $180- $300.


From the research I did, I saw that one can customize each program to create a package that includes an exercise program, nutritional coaching that includes at least one online live session, and weekly or daily check-ins. Most personal trainers charge around $250 a month. I found one that charges $985 a month. There was nothing special about those services either. It included weekly online live sessions for 30 minutes.

If you are trying to decide if you should hire a personal trainer, consider the information provided in this article. As I mentioned earlier, I am working on getting certified through NASM. Once I am certified I will be able to offer my services to online clients. I look forward to helping you make choices that will positively change your life.

If you have any questions or want me to discuss a specific topic please let me know in the comments section below. Thank you for visiting my website.


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