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How To Choose a Good Personal Trainer?

October 1st, 2007 · 8 Comments ·

For beginner who just joined a gym, one of the easier ways to kick start the workout is to engage a personal trainer, provided if you can afford. Getting a good personal trainer is crucial. In this article, let me share with you the top 8 tips to help you selecting a good solid personal trainer.


1) Has the trainer been certified?
It is true that some trainers learn from their experience, but you should give priority to a licensed instructor than someone who is uncertified. A qualified trainer will not only help you to achieve your fitness goals, but he will make sure your workout are conducted is safe and effective.

Certification means the trainer has proven his knowledge in the areas of exercise science including anatomy, basic nutrition and instructional methods as well as in emergency procedures and basic first aid.

Unfortunately, there are many personal trainers who are not qualified. For your safety, you should find out the instructor’s certification status before embarking on an exercise program with that person.

I am not saying certification is everything. In fact, I dare not say that certified trainer is definitely better than those who is not. My point is, if you are new and if you do not know the trainer’s background, a better bet will be on his certification. In fact, in this case, go for those who have industry widely recognized certification than those with in-house certification by the gym.


2) How long has the trainer been doing personal training?

Where did they learn their practical skills? The longer the trainer is in the industry, the more experience he has.

Some started just like you and I, working out for health. Then, they became part-time trainers before pursuing it as full time career. They are actually better personal trainers because they have gone through different stages and have a better understanding in what a students wants.

3) Do you get along well with the trainer?
You should feel comfortable with and be able to communicate openly with your personal trainer. Is he or she professional, yet personable? Is he or she non-competitive, fun and genuinely interested in helping you?

Some female gym goers prefer female personal trainers because of the close physical contact they may have. Nothing wrong with that. As long as you are comfortable, choose whoever you want.


4) Does the personal trainer keep on insisting you to buy supplement from him?
It is common for the trainer to recommend supplement if they believe that you need it. However, be wary of any personal trainer who pushes supplements or even things like steroid without any solid reasons. They most likely want to make quick money from you.

5) What are the trainer’s rates?
Rates vary depending on the trainer’s experience, length of session, and geographic location. In Malaysia, it is about RM85 to RM120 for a Personal Training (PT) session (USD25 to USD35 with exchange rate of USD1 to RM3.4). For example, it is about RM2,100 for 25 sessions.

As a layman, for comparison purpose, I knew:

  • One-to-one home tuition for secondary school kid is about RM30 to RM50 per session in Klang Valley
  • One-to-one driving lesson is about RM40 to RM60 per session
  • One-to-one golf teaching is about RM80 to RM150 per session

Looking at the figures, it looks as if the charge for personal training is only slightly cheaper than learning golf.


I have no doubt on the effectiveness of having a personal trainer to guide you and motivate you. But, personally, I think that the package is pretty expensive for Malaysia standard. It should not be more than RM60 per session.

The main reason the rate is high because the gyms get a cut from the package. I was told that, it takes as much as 50% from the money. Assuming you pay RM100 for 1-hour session, RM50 goes to the instructor and RM50 goes to the gym. Therefore, if you get a freelance certified personal instructor and not from the gym, you know how much you can negotiate.

To see results, you probably need about 15 to 20 sessions. Assuming you go to gym 3 times a week, 20 sessions will only last you for less than two months. So, make sure you consider that before you decide your budget.

6) Can the trainer accommodate your schedule?
Some people like to exercise in the morning, while others prefer evenings. An inflexible or unavailable trainer can lower your motivation level. The more flexible he is, the more likely you are to exercise.


7) Does the trainer have experience working with clients in your age group, or with individuals who have specific needs or circumstances similar to your own?
For example, if you suffer from back problem or pregnant or have never exercised, you want a trainer experienced in appropriate exercise programming for these concerns.

These trainers should come out with a different programs to suit your needs. Only experienced trainers will be able to do so. Others will just have one program fits all approach.

8) Will the trainer give you the other clients’ name as references?

You should contact references for any trainer you are considering hiring. Find out if the clients were pleased with their workouts. Were their individual needs and concerns addressed? Was the trainer on time, neatly groomed and well prepared before each session?


Final Words

The above list is not fool proof, but I hope that it will help.

Remember, personal training contributes about 20 percent of the success – whether you want to build up muscles, slim down or to tone your muscles. The remaining 80 percent depend on you.

If you choose not to go to gym often, not to take the right diet, not to learn more about the correct way of using the machines, even if you have Arnold or Stallone as your personal trainer, you are still going no where.


It is your money and it is your body. Just make sure you will not regret if you do use personal trainer’s service.



Category: Gym Going

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8 responses so far ↓
  • sylvesteR // Oct 2, 2007 at 1:30 AM

    I would say I have less confidence in True Fitness personal trainers; they do not have the buff kind of physique, not to say they are not qualified or anything, it’s just not convincing enough to attract people in signing up for their package, at least that’s what I think.

  • Reggie Soang // Oct 5, 2007 at 8:44 PM

    Hey Mun, great website! I enjoy your information very much. I just got certified a month ago and currently working hard to keep up with my education in personal training and getting more experience. I totally agree with what you said in your entry about choosing the right personal trainer. Not only have you helped many people who are looking for educators in fitness, but you have also reminded me to stick to my responsibilities as a certified trainer. I have a blog on fitness as well. If you have a change, please visit my site and give me some feedback. I look forward to reading your entries everyday and exchange personal feedback to each other. Have a great one, my friend!


  • Simon Paul // Oct 7, 2007 at 1:20 PM

    Referring to Sylvester’s post, I would like to add something here. You can’t judge by their looks most of the time, however, it is true that a certified personal trainer should look fit enough to be one. I have a PT friend who looks like a potato, really, a potato. But that didn’t change the fact that he knew more about health, fitness, bodybuilding and supplements than I do. The best than you can do is to make friends with the members, exchange informations about workouts, supplements, body limitations on workouts and make studies of how your body works best. A PT can only guide you if you’re lacking of details and knowledge about Bodybuilding & Fitness, but only you who can build the confidence in you. Well for my case, I always looked at myself in the mirror and be proud that I’d improved as I’ve done something, rather than those out there who are not. Keep it up and be your best… :)

  • San Diego Personal Training // May 26, 2008 at 1:59 AM

    Apart from having the right credentials, find one with the right amount of attitude and oozing with passion for what he or she do. Certifications can be done in time but passion for helping others change their lives through fitness is another thing.

  • Jerrican Tan // Jun 9, 2008 at 7:34 PM


    Great write up on the above! Yup, certifications plus experience plus personality rocks! :-)

    A certified personal trainer should be able to design a safe and effective programme so his/her client can adhere to it. It is not about the best/whacko/vigorous training program, but it is about whether how effective an exerciser can stick to it yet getting results without any injuries, death or harm!

    A professional certified PT will also act on highest ethics. Among a few ethics, I can provide you a few which are, that they never recommend supplements, never provide detailed nutritional plan and never diagnose any medical issues. They are just exercise experts and NOT rehab person. That is the scope of practice of a personal trainer.

    Hard to find a professional certified personal trainer? Yes, you are right, there are probably less than 100 of them in Malaysia who have international NCCA-accredited fitness certifications. Can’t blame the problem though as we are new in the industry, and I believe the clubs are trying to make little changes to increase the standard of personal training in Malaysia. :-)

    Jerrican from FIT Malaysia

  • Nilesh Babu // Oct 28, 2009 at 11:20 AM

    i am planning to get a personal trainer – and visited ur site for tips! glad what i found! thx 4 the tips!

  • shil // Jan 21, 2010 at 3:16 PM

    do you have any contacts of personal trainers

  • L.Vikenasvaran // Jan 11, 2011 at 6:07 PM

    hi mun how r u pal? It is a timely advice that i got from your website about the selection criteria b4 hiring a personal trainer. For your info i just got registerd with fitness first and after twice free personal training conducted the personal trainer approached me and explained about the 30 sessions package that would cost
    me about rm 2625. This trainer is very young with merely 23 years of age and it seems he got the physique to convince me. Should i consider to have a personal trainer? What do you think?

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