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How to Pick Your Perfect Personal Trainer or Fitness Program!

Most people getting into fitness are apprehensive and even a bit demoralized-all they know is that they’re unhappy with themselves but don’t know where to go from there.

This uncertainty usually draws people to their peers, social media and Google for help with their health and fitness-all of these sources offer only generalized information that may or may not be applicable. This abundance of non-specific information can either cause further uncertainty, or create pressure to buy anything fast…Unfortunately, both of these roads take you nowhere good.

The uncertainty of which option you need to choose to achieve your fitness goals often causes people to make no choice and do nothing, which obviously gets you nowhere.

Simultaneously, the pressure to pick and attempt just any exercise program can lead you to attempt something that will cause injury or further disappointment in yourself.

So, what are you supposed to do once you decide to embark on a fitness journey-how do you know which course of action to take???

First off, it is imperative that you have a well-defined goal at this point. The details of this goal are what is going to guide you on your fitness journey.

To set a well-defined goal, check out our blog on SMART Goals to help you set a goal that has all of the components you need to embark on a fitness journey.

Once you’ve got your SMART Goals set, you’re going to want to do research and compile a list of 10 trainers or programs that you feel meets all of the following baseline qualities:

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#1: Resonates with your goals and values…

This is where solidly knowing your goals comes into play!

If your goal is to build strength, look for a strength training coach or exercise program…

Don’t get sucked in by a weight loss program because you start to feel a little insecure while looking at all of the pictures of skinny women.

Staying true to your goals is what is going to help you find the personal trainer or fitness program that brings you to success instead of disappointment!

While you’re here, take time to consider the values that are represented in the coaches or programs you are considering!

If you value body positivity you are not going to feel motivated to achieve while working with a personal trainer that acts adverse to a certain body type. Yes, you can absolutely be picky about the values of the people you work with or the exercise programs that you choose! There are hundreds of thousands of fitness professionals and programs out there and you deserve to find the right one for you!


#2: Exudes respect and acceptance for all bodies and people…

While I know it is not the case, I believe that all fitness professionals should be inclusive, respectful and accepting of all bodies and people.

To have a person bring their insecurities and weaknesses in their body to you for help is an honor and should be treated as such.

It is my opinion that the leader of your fitness journey (health coach, personal trainer, nutritionist-even doctors) should recognize and respect deeply the responsibility they take on when working with you-especially if they will be coaching you in a personal, one on one capacity.

A coach or program who objectifies the body, disrespects the feelings (physically and mentally) of their client, and disregards the lifestyle of their client is a fitness professional red flag.

Instead, look for coaches and programs that seem willing to respect and acknowledge the population they want to help. For example, a good coach may make the effort to create short-but-sweet workouts for their busy client to do with their spare 30 minutes in the morning. Alternatively, a less respectful coach may demand that you find time for 2-hour workouts 5 days a week.

Another (awful) example I’ve experience in personal trainers who are not inclusive and respectful is a trainer refusing to coach their client in building upper body mass because it’s not feminine. Unless this is the specific request of the client, this is not okay for a personal trainer or program to endorse.

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3: Practice what they preach and train for what they know…

This is an important one because it often misconstrued…

Should you expect that every fitness professional is lean with abs?

No. Not every fitness professional works their bodies -or even their clients- towards the same goals.

And they should not be expected to because they are also people with their own personal aspirations, knowledge and experience that is of value to their clients.

What you should expect is that your fitness professional is offering services that they themselves can perform.


For example, I would personally be skeptical of a personal trainer who only did running for exercise, but offered to help me improve my Powerlifting PRs. Or an exercise program for helping you to run a marathon, written by a trainer who had never run anything longer than a 5K.

A good personal trainer or exercise program sticks within the realm of what they know so that they can more effectively help people. An even better personal trainer specializes their education and practice so as to provide maximum benefit to a specific population (such as we are Women’s Fitness Specialists).

Okay so know you have a list of your top 10 potential personal trainers and exercise programs-this may be all of one or the other, or it may be a mix of trainers and programs.

If you have a mix, your next step is to separate the two and decide right now: are you more likely to reach success with a personal trainer/nutritionist, or an online exercise program?

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Now that we’re down to one list, let’s turn inward towards your intuition: look at the faces of the trainers or people behind the programs and start eliminating the ones that don’t give you the best vibes.

Look at their credentials, their client reviews, pictures of results and eliminate the ones that don’t impress and inspire you.

If you are working from a list of personal trainers, set up consultations with your top 3-5 trainers to help you make your decisions.

If you are deciding on an exercise program, continue eliminating based on your intuition, your objective assessment, and what is affordable and realistic to you until you have 1 left.

Once you decide all that’s left to do is to put your plan in action-either by committing to 2 sessions a week with your coach, or by starting your exercise program and nutritional changes.


Having taken this moment to find the personal trainer or program that you resonate with most will be the most valuable thing you can do on your fitness journey.

You will find yourself much more likely to accomplish your goals, implement healthier habits on a day-to-day basis, and enjoy yourself on the way!

Remember: you are always worth it!



This was written by Elexis Smolak CPT, CNC, founder of Adapted Fitness and Master Trainer. Learn more or schedule a virtual coffee at