Whether you have a specific exercise goal in mind or are just trying to lose excess weight, a personal trainer can be a valuable tool. Individuals with this certification are specialists in designing customized exercise programs and helping you work them into your fitness routine.

This article will detail the role of a personal trainer, discuss the benefits of hiring one, and help you find the person who is right for you.

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What Do Personal Trainers Do?

Personal trainers are experts in creating and implementing fitness plans that improve your overall strength, flexibility, and wellness. They can also customize a workout program to meet a specific goal, like completing a marathon, building your cycling endurance, or losing excess body weight.

In addition to building a regimen to meet your needs, your trainer will also guide you through the program in person to ensure that you complete it safely. Training sessions typically occur in a gym or a fitness studio, though some specialists will come to your home to assist you.

As you progress through the workouts, your personal trainer will also use their knowledge to advance or modify the exercises to ensure you meet your health goals.

To obtain this type of specialization, most personal trainers become certified by one of several fitness industry organizations (like the National Academy of Sports Medicine or the American Council on Exercise).

This process typically involves completing multiple hours of education on anatomy, safe and effective exercise strategies, and emergency management techniques. Some trainers also obtain their bachelor’s degree in an exercise-related field like exercise science or kinesiology. 

What to Expect

Personal training sessions typically last about an hour. During this time, previous exercises are reviewed and new progressions are frequently introduced. Depending on your goals, sessions may contain stretching, strength training, or cardiovascular exercise.

The Benefits of Hiring a Personal Trainer

Aside from improving your overall health and getting in better shape, hiring a personal trainer has multiple benefits.


One of the hardest things about meeting your fitness goals is remaining consistent. Outside stresses like work and family obligations can make it easy to skip a workout and lose your traction.

Hiring a personal trainer gives you someone to answer to and helps keep you accountable for exercising. Ultimately, this can mean the difference between making gains and remaining plateaued (staying at the same level).


Many people lose motivation when they exercise on their own, and they begin to reduce the frequency or intensity of their workouts. Partnering with a personal trainer can help you avoid this.

Finding a trainer who understands what keeps you interested in exercising can help ensure you don’t lose your drive over weeks or months.


Anyone with a keyboard or a smartphone can access a seemingly unending supply of information on exercise and fitness. Unfortunately, much of the advice or information available on the Internet is either false or unhealthy.

Hiring a personal trainer who is well educated on the structures of the body and the most effective fitness strategies helps to ensure that your workouts are safe and effective.


Keeping your workouts fresh helps you remain motivated and increases the likelihood of meeting your fitness goals. Working with a personal trainer gives you access to a vast array of techniques and can expose you to many unique ways to target a particular body area. It also ensures that no workout is the same as the one before it.


While some exercise techniques are more effective, there is no one-size-fits-all approach to fitness. Instead, your personal trainer will consider your individual personality and your specific goals and use them to create a customized fitness plan just for you.

They can suggest modifications to exercises that account for any limitations, co-occurring health conditions (comorbidities) such as arthritis, or medical restrictions you may have. This individualized approach to working out increases the odds that you will successfully meet your desired outcomes as time goes on.  


No matter where you live, chances are there is a gym or fitness studio nearby with a personal trainer available to help you. This makes it both easy and convenient to hire this type of specialist.

In addition, more and more personal trainers are making their services available online or via video chat. This makes their customized programming even more convenient than in the past.  

Goal-Oriented Workouts

If you’ve been working out long enough or are just starting out, you may lose sight of the reasons behind your desire to exercise. Hiring a personal trainer helps you focus on your “why” by keeping your sessions oriented toward your goals.

The objectives they develop with you are usually specific, measurable, and time-based, which helps you concentrate on the purpose behind your efforts. 

Nutritional Advice

On top of their knowledge of fitness, certain personal trainers are also able to provide specific nutritional advice. These specialists usually receive a separate nutritional certification after studying the science behind the food you eat, behavior change strategies, and weight assessment and management techniques.

It is important, however, to use caution before taking nutritional advice from a trainer. If you have specific health concerns or comorbidities, consider speaking to a healthcare provider for dietary advice or referral to a dietitian.

Is a Personal Trainer Right for You?

There are several things to think about when you’re choosing a personal trainer. These questions may help you hone in on a specialist whose style and techniques are right for you:

  • Does the gender of your personal trainer affect your comfort level?
  • Is the personal trainer easy to talk to and do they have a personality similar to your own? 
  • Is the trainer a good communicator when discussing unfamiliar concepts with you?
  • Is the personal trainer inquisitive about your own goals and motivations?
  • Do you feel motivated and excited by the program and exercises that the trainer is proposing?
  • Does the trainer have experience working with people who have goals that are similar to yours?
  • Does the trainer have experience in working with people who are similar to you in age or physical impairments?

How to Find a Qualified Personal Trainer

One of the best ways to find a personal trainer is by word of mouth. Try talking to people in your circle of friends or with common interests to see if they train with anyone whom they’d recommend. Most fitness industry organizations (like the National Academy of Sports Medicine or the American Council on Exercise) also have a search feature on their website that helps you locate a personal trainer.

Finally, calling around to your local fitness facilities can also aid in your search. Many locations offer a free initial consultation that can help ensure the person you are working with is the right fit for you.

Finding the Right Fit

In order to ensure your trainer is a good fit, make sure they are:

  • Available during the hours you’d like to exercise
  • Qualified and experienced in training individuals with similar goals
  • Responsive to your questions or input
  • Affordable
  • A good communicator
  • Motivating


Personal trainers are skilled in developing fitness routines and safely guiding you through them. They can help you accomplish a specific goal or just improve your overall wellness. Working with a trainer helps keep you motivated and can be very convenient. Finding a qualified specialist who matches with your own personality and needs is the key to achieving a successful outcome.

A Word From Verywell

Regular exercise is key to good health. Putting this into practice, however, is often another story. Working with a personal trainer could be right for you if you want a jump start or struggle to stay motivated. Finding the right individual can mean the difference between a fitness plateau and achieving your wellness goals.

Frequently Asked Questions

  • Do you really need a personal trainer?

    Personal trainers are rarely a necessity, but in many cases they’re a valuable tool. While you are certainly able to exercise on your own, oftentimes this results in stale workouts and minimal progress. Personal trainers help keep your workouts fresh and hold you accountable as you work towards specific fitness goals.

  • How expensive is a personal trainer?

    The price of a personal trainer varies widely depending on your location and their own experience. Most trainers range in price from $20 to $100 dollars per hour. Some locations may offer a discount if you buy sessions in bulk or prepay for the services.

  • What is a personal training session like?

    A personal training session should feel like you are completing a challenging workout. Most sessions contain stretching, strengthening, and cardiovascular components, though this can vary depending on your specific goals.

    Your trainer will also spend time outlining workouts for you to complete before you next meet with them.

By Tim Petrie, DPT, OCS

Tim Petrie, DPT, OCS, is a board-certified orthopedic specialist who has practiced as a physical therapist for more than a decade.


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