finding the right person to trust with your health

By Stephen Brandis

Choosing the right coach to work with you is a big deal. Here’s an example.

Breanne is a preschool teacher who introduces children to the alphabet and sharing skills in a nurturing way. When she started her personal training, the trainer emerged like a drill sergeant on loan from boot camp—very different from her personal style. Did she love him or leave him? She loved him because she knew she needed that extra push.

When you decide to invest in a trainer, there is the potential that he/she can change your life.

To find the right trainer for you, answer these six questions.

What motivates you?

Your trainer should fit your personality and be able to cater to your personal preferences. You will be spending a lot of time working alongside this person–both inside and outside of the gym–so it’s important that you have a good rapport. Are you the type of person who prefers positive reinforcement and encouragement or do you prefer the drill instructor type that can push you to your limits?

What did you find in the reference check?

Do you know anyone who has worked with the prospective coach before? Do they have positive testimonials? Try to get a feel for the trainer by talking to people who have worked with him/her.

  • Are they professional?
  • Mindful of your specific goals/needs?
  • Dependable?
  • Will he/she create personalized programs that can benefit you inside and outside of the gym?

How convenient is it for you?

If you are someone on a tight schedule, then finding a coach that is conveniently located and can train at a time that works best for you is going to be crucial to your success.

  • Are you able to commit to training 2-3 times a week?
  • Will you be able to train at a time you know you can make it or is there a good chance something can come up that will prevent you from getting to your session?
  • Is it a reasonable distance from work or home? If you are stuck driving 30-45 minutes and cannot seem to make it on time or find yourself having to cancel often, then a more conveniently located gym or online training may be a better option.

Can the trainer meet your specific needs?

You should be confident that your trainer can manage all aspects of your program so you achieve the desired outcome. The only way this can be achieved is if he/she can cater to your specific goals and concerns. If you mention a specific issue such as chronic knee pain, a competent trainer will be able to work around it or refer you to a qualified health provider if needed.

Which qualifications should you look for?

Education for trainers is, for the most part, unregulated. There is no “FDA” for the fitness industry, so anyone can call themselves a coach–even if they do not hold any certifications. However, there are a few things you can look for to be sure that your trainer is educated appropriately.

  • Does he/she have a degree from a university in exercise science, kinesiology, or a related discipline? This is not required, and there are plenty of incredible coaches out there without those types of degrees, but this can provide you with assurance that they have a baseline of knowledge in the realm of exercise.
  • What certifications does he/she have? When trainers have a valid certification from a reputable organization, it shows they are committed to their craft and are dedicated to continuing their education. Some reputable organizations are ACE, NSCA, NASM, and ACSM.
  • Is there a certain way or training style you would prefer? If you are a golfer and want to have more of an emphasis on being able to play more rounds or increase your driving range, then you want to train with a TPI certified fitness instructor.

What is the trainer’s philosophy?

  • What beliefs or principles guide your trainer’s interactions with his/her clients?
  • Is he/she completely absent from your life outside of the gym, or truly committed to instilling long-term changes in you? A good coach should embody the philosophy that permanent change and success does not happen overnight; they need to be dedicated to helping you develop better movement patterns, healthy eating habits, positive ways to manage stress and to train your mind to overcome in all areas of life.


Hiring the right trainer is a great investment that can radically change your life, but it can be a daunting task. Take time in your search–you have the right to be picky. Make sure you choose someone that will ignite your drive to succeed in your goals and aspirations–not someone who will lead you nowhere.


Start living healthier by grabbing your Nutrition and Fitness Guide for Busy Professionals

About the Author

Steve Brandis, Personal Trainer Wilmington performance Lab

Stephen has been in the fitness industry since 2012. He entered the field with a base knowledge of strength and conditioning and simply wanting to help people get into better shape. Now his passion is to help individuals move better, feel better, and exude confidence, and tenacity not just in the gym but in every aspect of life. In his spare time he can be seen roaming around Wilmington on his road bike exploring new areas and businesses, trying new brews from the local breweries, or being more inconspicuous, spending time at home working on various projects.


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