7 Qualities of a Good Personal Trainer


With the New Year people are looking for personal trainers. Here are qualities or markers of a good personal trainer. Do you have all 7?

1. Credentials and Education

I’m going to begin with what I see as the most obvious area to maintain, and yet sometimes the most challenging.

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A trainer’s continuing education is pivotal to their career. It’s how certification is maintained and what helps represent credibility. All certifications require a certain number of CEU’s to be completed every 1-2 years.

This time span is quite manageable and gives trainers plenty of notice to schedule recertification events, conventions or specific training.

However, as anything in the body goes, use it or lose it. If during CEU’s is the only time a trainer expands their knowledge, then they become a little less appealing to a client.

Without realizing it, a client will notice if a trainer spends more time actively and regularly improving their knowledge of fitness and wellness. It will be seen in how the trainer competently answers questions, comfortably and confidently can speak on different topics, and is always bringing new material to their sessions.

A client will always feel more inclined to hire a trainer that seems to have more experience. True understanding and knowledge is one way to bring that experience and qualification.

2. Demeanor

Something that might be less obvious, is how a trainer presents themselves. This one is short and sweet.

There are 3 main points to check off:

  1. Voice and conversation:

-Trainers are all talk. Most of a trainer’s time with clients is spent on the gym floor conversing with them. It’s important to have a steady and clear tone, enunciate, and practice clear communication. Engage with your client, regardless of your day or mood. Don’t mask kind words with a bored tone.

  1. Attire:

-Regardless that a trainer’s suit is gym clothes, it is not an excuse to look sloppy. Clean and neat hair, well-maintained gym wear and an overall put together appearance is important to convey professionalisms in what can be seen as an unprofessional environment.

  1. Attitude:

-Trainers have chosen a profession of helping people. Clients look to us for inspiration and the motivation to keep working for their goals. It’s professionally irresponsible to not practice a positive and upbeat attitude and mentality, along with doing it authentically.

This is not an easy task, and I hope to not make it sound that way. A trainer’s job is challenging, physically and mentally. Being that light and motivation for our clients is a large part of what we do. It’s maybe the best part, but not without its trials.

3. Strengths and Weaknesses

When a client is looking to hire a trainer they may ask what the trainer can bring to the table. Most likely this will be followed by what might be their weaker areas. So as the clients ask the trainer, so must the trainer ask themselves.

Not only will personally answering these questions show a trainer what they are doing well with and what needs some extra attention, they will also be more self-aware. This is appealing to potential clients.

Seeing a professional that is not only confident in their strengths but their understanding and awareness of their weaknesses, is reassuring. It shows that the trainer is actively improving their practice and qualifications.

4. Results

This one comes without question. Trainers are expensive and new clients want to be sure they are getting effective services. Consequently, it can be the most daunting question.

Results and effectiveness is what a trainer is all about. Pair that with a collective misunderstanding hiring a trainer is the only requirement to achieve fitness goals. You won’t always see cohesive results.

Trainers tend to see their general fitness clients 3-4 times a week. Even on the more optimistic range of 4 times, there is still 3 whole days that a trainer has minimal influence. This job is incredibly tough because a trainer is directly involved in helping individuals change old habits and thought patterns. Without a client already being personally ready to make these changes, it can be challenging to help them get the results they want.

Understanding that, this particular checkpoint can be a little tricky for answering to yourself and clients. It can be disconcerting that some of a trainer’s clients haven’t made a significant physical transformation.

However, more often than not a significant mental and emotional transformation has occurred. These kinds of results, however, are just more difficult to convey to new clients, and even sometimes to the client themselves.

However, continue to give the best effort, and use these few tips to check in on effectiveness

– Research and explore new methods of effectiveness. Reach out to a fellow professional or past teachers. Continue to practice and learn new approaches and modalities.

– Schedule check in’s with your client. Create opportunities to discuss how they are feeling within their sessions and what they feel they need more help with

– Keep variety in sessions. Stay updated on new methods and movements so the client stays engaged and properly challenged

5. Practice what you Preach:

There’s that saying, “those who can’t do, teach.”

This is not true in the personal training field. In fact, it’s the opposite. It is because the trainers do, that they teach. That is how most trainers got into the industry. They were already so personally passionate about fitness that they wanted to make a career out of it, and share that passion.

However, trainers are still human and occasionally fall prey to Netflix binging and bad eating choices. This is perfectly A-Okay. Seriously, life is all about balance. It is allowing space to be a little “too” comfortable and enjoy a delicious snack here and there.

The trouble comes when these choices become more habit than the occasional Sunday afternoon. It is not easy to be a credible and effective trainer when personal lifestyle choices don’t match with what is being advised to clients.

A personal choice was made to become a trainer, a job that centers on health and wellness. It is the trainer’s responsibility to practice what they believe in. To be a sort of inspiration and model to help shape a client’s own expression of a well-full life.

This will be different for every trainer. There are so many different methods and paths for a healthy lifestyle. The key is to be honest with oneself in practicing their version of a wellness-oriented life.

6. Does the Trainer Love it?:

If I were looking to hire a trainer, I would look for someone who absolutely adores their job. This is because they will be the best trainer. Individuals who love what they do, are certainly more probable to be exceptional in their work.


Please don’t misunderstand. I don’t believe a trainer must love their job every single moment to be a truly passionate trainer. It’s just checking in and knowing that the work makes you happy. That this is how you want to be spending your time.

A trainer can be a very impactful person in a client’s life. For this reason, it’s the love and passion for the work that makes a good trainer into an incredible one.

Love what you do, because if you don’t why do it? Being a trainer, and writer for this blog throughout the past year has been such a rewarding experience. I can’t imagine any other path or profession for myself.

7. Style:

As a trainer, it is good practice to be knowledgeable in all areas or styles of training. Functional, sport specific, injury rehab, bodybuilding, special populations are all common methods of personal training. However, as a trainer’s career develops a specialty tends to develop as well. A lot of this depends on a trainer’s personal fitness background and history. This, I believe, is a positive aspect.

As a trainer in an industry of niches, it’s greatly advised to find yours. It is beneficial to a trainer’s career to know what they do well and build that clientele base. It might not be effective talking to a potential client that want’s to gain 50 lbs. of muscle when the trainer is usually working with endurance athletes.

Even though trainers exist within an industry that believes they “should” know everything about fitness, that doesn’t mean that will be the most successful path for a trainer. Find your personal style and method. Hone these skills and use them to be the best trainer out there.

These 7 markers are invaluable to your success and ability as a personal trainer for the coming year of 2018. They are considerations new clients will contemplate, and so you should as well.

To all my fellow NFPT trainers, I hope you have had an abundant year. Here’s to being even better than we were before!


Start 2018 with the latest health and fitness information. Check out Erin’s blog on the 2018 fitness trends.

[info type=”facebook”]Make new friends this year. If you’re an NFPT trainer, join the Facebook Community Group to mingle with others. If you’re not certified yet, come talk with NFPT here, we would like to meet you![/info]


Alex has her A.S in Exercise Science and is a certified Personal Trainer with NFPT and NSCF. She recently traveled to India to gain her 200 hr yoga teacher certification where she studied the ancient practice at its origins. Alex has spent time teaching yoga in Spain while volunteering at a yoga retreat and is currently working at her local college instructing two fitness courses. Alex wants to share with her clients and students the mental, physical and emotionally healing qualities of exercise and movement. She believes everyone should have a healthy relationship with their bodies and strives to thread that concept throughout her career.
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