PersonalTrainerMantoWomanclientI’m going to start off here by saying that yes, I do get asked about this topic more often than not. Social gatherings, parties, business networking meetings, or just bumping into people at the grocery store who are curious. What should I look for in a great Personal Trainer that qualifies them for me to hire them.

Here I will present the top 10 things, traits, behaviours, qualities, and characteristics that gives you the green light to go ahead and hire this person on the spot.

10.     Education:  The trainer you’re about hire should possess at least an honours degree in this related field. A Bachelor’s degree in Kinesiology, Human Kinetics, Exercise Physiology, or a related College degree in Exercise Sciences.

9.     Commitment:  In a Big Box Gym environment you may encounter a fitness professional that has an established reputation, and has a moderate to heavy client load. This individual is likely to be very committed to staying where they are if they are being compensated well and are being treated well by the ownership or management.  Its always a good idea to ask  your prospective trainer up front, if they have any plans of moving off to sunny California, or Venice Beach to evolve their training practice.  You should feel secure enough in your initial interview to ask whether this trainer is planning on leaving before your “paid in full” contract has ended?

8.    Personality:    Does the prospective trainer have a likeable, magnetizing personality.  In other words, do they pass the “elevator test”?   If  you had two minutes alone with this person in a confined space, would you want to hear what they have to say?  Do you like their energy, their vocabulary, their manners, demeanor, etc.  Are they respectful, considerate, polite, professional (more on this later), and overall a nice person to be around?

7.    Professionalism:   Does your prospective trainer possess qualities of a professional?  Punctuality, great presentation skills, organization, resourcefulness, effective communication skills, (both written and verbal), great listening skills, do they respect your limitations and sensibilities?  Do they have your best interests at heart and as a priority?

6.    Integrity:     This one should be a “no-brainer”!  The prospective trainer should do what  they say they’re going to do. There is no room for empty promises, or presenting information which isn’t based on solid evidence.  This person’s behaviour should match what comes out of their mouth, how they treat other clients, their co-workers and people out on the street.

5.     Passionate:    When is the last time you saw a clown at the Circus behave like a sad-sack of potatoes?   I”m going to categorize this particular quality as inherent or innate.  This trait here is likely something that you can’t coach or teach.  They either have joy in their heart working with and helping people, or they’re taking some kind mood altering psychotic drugs to transform them into Richard Simmons.  Passion for one’s profession is a non-negotiable quality that should be reflected in the trainer’s overall affect.

4.     Does the Trainer portray their role?    That’s right, do they have the goods that represents what they’re selling?  In other words, does this person keep themselves in good or excellent shape?  Do they take pride in their physique, lifestyle, eating habits, stress levels, etc.  Your prospective trainer should at least practice habits that are considered congruent with their profession.  Eating healthy, exercise regularly, manages stress fairly well, has a network of compatible friends and family (not always), and is committed to a healthy and fitness oriented life that decrees “Take care of your body now, so it can take of you later”.  They also will possess a mindset that sees the solutions to problems versus just the problems themselves.

3.    Resourceful:   Does your prospective trainer consider themselves to be a student of their profession, or do they “know it all” already?  This sort of falls into the integrity category somewhat.  If this person claims that they know more that their position and education holds, do they have the evidence to support this? For example, a client may ask their trainer if they know anything about “intermittent fasting”?  A prideful and less honourable fitness professional may claim that they do and start spinning a “yarn” of BS that in fact be quite captivating, but entirely true, or what the client is looking for.  Instead, the “student” acknowledges that they don’t necessarily have the answer at their finger tips, but will follow up with the client at a later time once they have done their research and have studiously ascertained a valid and well thought out for the client to understand.

2.    Experience is worth a ton of Cure!!    This trainer has seen and worked with many people and has taken into consideration the vast array of personality types, different learning types, body types, mindsets, behavioural and lifestyle preferences, time constraints, work schedules, conflicting priorities, etc, etc.  This fitness professional has worked with real people with real problems like injuries, medical conditions (osteoarthritis), perhaps thyroid issues which can stall weight and fat loss, or chronic pain issues.

PersonalTrainerWomantoManclientDoes your Trainer have a “client-centered”  approach and methodology, or does he or she have a “coach-centered” approach and methodology?  In other words, it their mind, is it all about the you, the client, or them, the Coach?  Here’s how you might able to discern between the two schools of thought at the onset of your making a decision whether to work with this person or not?   If your prospective trainer uses language like ” I think that this approach works best, I have found that this approach works well, based on my experience, this is what should happen, Taking a page out of the military, the client-centered coach deliver a series of no-pain, no-gain boot-camps where clients are given tough love and are taught to pay for their laziness and dietary transgressions with push-ups, cardio, and burpees. This style of coaching features the coach as: Expert, Drill Sergeant, and Dictator. In this model it’s their job to tell clients what to do.

This style of coaching features the coach as: Expert, Drill Sergeant, and Dictator. In this model it’s their job to tell clients what to do.

Sure, some coaches are at least polite about it. But, no matter how nicely they command, this approach remains coach-centered. It’s all about the coach and what they know. And it’s the opposite of client-centered coaching.

As a prospective client, we know you have you’re own abilities and reasons for change.

You have you’re own limits, beliefs, preferences, backstories, and motivations. Some of these will be so far outside the prospective trainer’s scope that he or she couldn’t possibly have “out of the box” advice for you.  Your client-centered coach should ask more questions, listen to your answers, and focus more on what is going on in your life.

In doing so, this prospective coach will actually uncover your unique abilities, reasons, and motivations (which will often be very different from theirs). A client-centered coach can help clients identify their own individual limiting factors. And then — more excitingly  be able to help you (the client) propose you’re own solution(s) to your own problems.

After all, we believe what we hear ourselves say, right?

Client-centered coaching is about collaborating with clients and creating action plans based on what they feel they can do, not what the coach thinks they should be doing.

So, there is my Top 10 countdown and criteria what my clients were kind enough to report back to me as some qualities they appreciated with my style of coaching.

I wish you the best of luck in your interviewing process of screening out the Coach-centered Trainers out there and empowering yourself moreso in a more collaborative partnership with a more selfless, client-centered coach.

For those interested in such a coaching relationship, please feel free to contact me at for more information.


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