How to Choose a Personal Trainer

There are thousands of personal trainers in London. How do you go about choosing the best personal trainer for you? Generally, the more they charge, the more experience and qualifications they’re likely to have, so don’t always go for the cheapest.

Here’s a checklist of things to consider when choosing your personal trainer:

1. Qualifications

Ask what qualifications your personal trainer has. Make sure you double check that these qualifications are genuine. Ask for a photocopy of his/her main qualification certificate. Ensure that the trainer is qualified in First Aid, and that their skills are up to date. First Aid skills should be refreshed every 3 years. Check that your trainer has done his refresher course! Also ensure your trainer has qualifications in nutrition (see point 7 below for more on this).

2. Experience

If your personal trainer is well qualified and enthusiastic, don’t reject them purely on the basis that they’re newly qualified. Base your judgment on a face to face consultation (for which you may have to pay a small fee). If there is a consultation fee, make sure they’ve confirmed their qualifications to you by email/phone first. Many trainers have their own website, so check and compare trainers this way too. When it comes to experience, choose a trainer who has knowledge in the area you want to focus on, whether it’s running, muscle-building, core strength, or boxercise. Even if the trainer is newly qualified, they should at least have had several years personal experience of these activities if they’re going to train you effectively.


Ensure your personal trainer is insured for Professional Indemnity (also known as public liability). Ask for a photocopy of their insurance policy, and give the insurance company a quick ring to make sure the trainer is insured with them.

4. References

Ask for references from other clients to satisfy yourself that your trainer is professional, effective (do they get results, ie- are they good value for money), and reliable (good timekeepers, do what they promise they’ll do).

5. Face-to Face Initial Consultation

Check that your personal trainer will give you a thorough initial consultation face to face before you commit to any future sessions. This ensures that he has a thorough knowledge of your medical history and exercise history and goals, before he formulates a fitness programme for you. Don’t take on a trainer who won’t do a thorough initial consultation at the outset. This should include the trainer taking your blood pressure. Crucially it should also include analysis of nutrition. The best exercise programme in the world will be seriously thwarted if your nutrition is not on track.

The face-to-face initial consultation also gives you the chance to see whether you like the trainer, and that their approach and personality appeal to you. Do you want someone who’s quite strict and military, or someone who is gentle, encouraging, and explains things well? You need to consider what personality of trainer will motivate you the most. Also consider whether you’d prefer a male or female personal trainer.

6. Home Visit or Gym

Decide whether you want your personal trainer to visit you at home, or whether you’d prefer to meet them in a gym. If you want the trainer to visit you at home, then it’s doubly important to check qualifications and references, from the point of view of your safety and security. If you choose to train at the trainer’s location, make sure visit the location before you make a decision.

7. Nutrition Advice

Exercise and good nutrition are equally important. You can’t out-train a bad diet. Check that your personal trainer has qualifications in nutrition, and that they will advise you on nutrition as part of the training package. Ask your trainer how much ongoing nutrition advice they’re prepared to give you at no extra charge.

Final Word

A good personal trainer will help you make faster progress than you could if you always trained alone. However, don’t rely on just one personal training session a week for all your exercise. You need to be exercising on your own (or with a friend) at least twice between your weekly personal training sessions for optimum results.

Dominic Londesborough is a personal trainer in London with 11 years experience.