A great certified personal trainer can make a profound difference to their clients’ experiences, acting as a knowledgeable and engaged personal support tutor to understand what each person wants to achieve and helping them design a sustainable and bespoke road map to get there.

However not every personal trainer is right for every client, and vice versa.

The one-on-one nature of personal training means that the skills and knowledge you need might differ from the next person – perhaps you need a health and fitness industry pro with an understanding of how to improve your health around medical conditions, for example.

Nonetheless, there are some key requirements I’d recommend every personal training client prioritise, such as choosing a trainer with verified personal trainer qualifications to help them train safely, at their own pace, and with a firm focus on their health rather than solely their physical fitness.

What Qualifications Should a Certified Personal Trainer Have?

There is a significant contrast between a fitness instructor who is qualified to lead group classes, a gym instructor who helps new clients learn how to use the equipment, and a personal trainer with world-class training offering tailored personal training courses to match the specific needs of their clients.

How does a certified personal trainer differ from a gym instructor? To become a personal trainer with a recognised certification approved by the Chartered Institute for the Management of Sport and Physical Activity (CIMSPA), a fitness professional needs to study a broader curriculum and understand topics such as:

    • Weight management and nutrition
    • Personal training programming and coaching
    • Core training and advanced resistance training
    • Coaching for behavioural change

There are multiple other modules included within a personal training course, but this gives a flavour of the depth of knowledge a personal trainer needs to have – ideally, a level 3 qualification which builds on the foundational concepts in earlier tuition at the start of a personal training career.

Many clients also look for personal trainers with real-world experience, a track record of happy and successful clients and the personality they need to feel supported and motivated to work hard to reach their goals and fitness aspirations.

Over the last decade, I have worked with over 300 clients with a diverse array of goals, with years of knowledge about the best ways to train and motivate each individual and a further five years of fitness training beforehand – some of my transformations and proudest achievements are documented through my gallery!

Skills All High-Quality Certified Personal Trainers Should Possess

So, if you’ve found a fitness training provider with internationally recognised qualifications who can offer personal training courses, what characteristics will make that personal trainer a brilliant match for you?

Many personal trainers believe clients assess their abilities based on appearance and fitness. Still, the reality is that communication is far more paramount and provides the dialogue and rapport that is so indispensable, particularly for older adults or those brand new to health and fitness who need patience, reassurance and encouragement to learn new skills.

Personal training courses offer a practical assessment of know-how but can’t teach some of the most crucial skills, such as:

    • Listening – hearing what will benefit your client most on their fitness journey, investing the time to grasp what the best possible health and fitness would look like to that person.
    • Dedication to the craft – I believe that clients achieve the best results when supported by expert tutors committed to CPD courses and e-learning to keep up with the latest techniques in fitness instructing, such as new ways to track and measure health, body fat, mobility, strength and stamina.
    • Moving at your own pace – rushing to try and master a movement or rack up heavy weights can be disastrous, so your personal trainer should adapt every PT course to your ability and what you are comfortable with, progressing at a challenging but manageable pace.
    • Regular check-ins – the time personal trainer professionals spend with their clients is valuable, and hearing how you’re feeling, sleeping, and moving is as important as checking whether you have hit your latest fitness targets.

The saying that abs are made in the kitchen may be corny, but sadly it’s also true! Certified personal trainers should be able to offer advice and all the tools you need to make lifestyle changes, whether that’s drinking more water, getting plenty of sleep or building in recovery days to support a healthy and well-balanced diet.

If you can match the time you spend in your local health club or gym with the focus you invest in your nutrition, you’ll stay on track and achieve better results faster.

Practicalities When Choosing a Personal Trainer

Any reputable personal trainer should have decent personal trainer insurance and the necessary business skills to keep your programming up to date, with the frustration of not being able to make prompt payment due to late invoices or having limited payment options disrupting your focus on your training.

It’s also worth checking that a personal training business is appropriately registered, whether they are operating from leisure centres or commercial gyms or providing personal training at your own home or at a private facility.

As a self-employed certified personal trainer, I train clients at the fantastic Elitas Fitness in Chichester, but I also offer online coaching for PT clients who prefer to train independently and benefit from guidance as they move closer to their fitness goals.

The bottom line is that fitness qualifications are essential, but the other basic entry requirements, such as being an effective communicator, are just as meaningful to finding a fully qualified personal trainer who will exceed your expectations and make your aspirations a reality.

If you’d like to become a certified personal trainer client, I’d suggest meeting face to face for a good chat and using that as a basis to make a decision about whether you have the right connection to work together, leveraging their personal training qualifications and skills to enhance your wellness, confidence, strength and resilience.