When it comes to regular exercising, a personal trainer will keep you motivated and accountable. A personal trainer can help maximise your time spent exercising, prevent injury and achieve consistent result usually much faster than you can on your own. Our guide on how to find a personal trainer will help you pick the perfect personal trainer for your needs.

Personal trainers are even more vital if you’re exercising when you’re over 50. As we age, our metabolism slows, making it hard to lose weight. Bone density can lower, and our bodies are more susceptible to injuries. By finding a personal trainer that understands the impact of exercise on the older body, you can reduce injury risk and improve the effectiveness of personal training.

Why hire a personal trainer?

Hiring a personal trainer has lots of benefits. The best personal trainers act as a mentor, coach, support buddy and critical friend.

Personal trainers understand your body. A personal trainer will help shape an exercise programme tailored to your fitness level and goals. Personal trainers can help you set appropriate goals and targets based on your fitness and exercise style, helping you get the best from your workout. A good personal trainer won’t simply take on the role of a drill instructor. They will offer a safe, effective and fun way to improve fitness.

Personal trainers can help with diet and nutrition. They are able to advise on diet, help you stick to a healthy lifestyle to achieve your fitness goals. A good personal trainer will understand the science of exercise and nutrition and be able to advise you when and what to eat and its impact on your anatomy.

Personal trainers help you get the best from gym equipment. All gym equipment requires skill and technique to operate effectively. Used poorly, gym equipment won’t provide the desired results at best, and may lead to injury at worst. Working with a personal trainer one to two times a week for an hour at a time can help you master your workouts, so you use gym equipment more effectively when exercising on your own.

Looking to join a gym? Read our guide Gyms near me – how to find the best gym.

How to find a personal trainer

Choosing a personal trainer can be challenging, with lots of personal trainers offering similar claims and services. It’s worth taking the time when hiring a personal trainer to make sure that you choose the right personal trainer for your needs. Increasing fitness safely is paramount. Both you and the personal trainer will be committing to a long-term relationship that can take months before you see results. Making sure you find a personal trainer who will motivate and educate you is vital.

Our guide below covers how to find a personal trainer, including location, recommendations, experience and style to lesser-known aspects such as insurance and qualifications.

Hiring a personal trainer – location

Where you plan to exercise is important. If you’re using the local park or surrounding area and are happy to exercise outside – whatever the weather – then look for a local personal trainer who knows the area well. Good personal trainers can suggest running routes or places to train in privacy. A few will also help you work out at home if you have space.

Many personal trainers are available via your local gym. If you’ve been searching for a ‘gym near me’ and considering joining a gym you can work with a personal trainer there. You will need to be a member of a gym to visit with a personal trainer, so it’s worth checking out if the gym itself is a good choice.

Read our guide to finding a gym near me – how to find the best gym.

Find a personal trainer – recommendations

Before you hire a personal trainer, look for recommendations from friends, family, colleagues or other members at the gym.  A personal trainer should be able to provide testimonials and case studies – either on their website or provide details of past clients that you can talk to – and obtaining them should be easy. Ask for recommendations from people with a similar fitness level or age as you so you can get a good idea as to how effective the personal trainer will be with you.

If a personal trainer won’t provide recommendations and is reluctant to introduce you to other clients, think twice before hiring.

Find a personal trainer – qualifications and experience

It might seem obvious when hiring a personal trainer, but you need to check that a personal trainer is qualified to train you. They should be an experienced fitness instructor, with a knowledge of anatomy, physiology and nutrition.

Look for a personal trainer who has the qualifications in the area of training you need, along with solid, proven experience. There are a wide range of UK qualifications – from diplomas and certificates to university degrees – that personal trainers can obtain. Check their qualifications carefully as not all certifications are equal.

Ideally, you should look for a Level 3 Diploma in Fitness Instructing and Personal Training as a bare minimum. Some personal trainers will have university-level qualifications. Look for the letters BSc which stand for Bachelor of Science or even an MSc (Master of Science) after their names – it shows they have a solid knowledge of science.

It’s worth making sure they are members of the Register of Exercise Professionals (REPS) and are on the National Register of Personal Trainers (NRPT). The NRPT is the UK’s leading online personal trainer directory with over 850 qualified and insured personal trainers nationwide as members.

The Register of Exercise Professionals is the largest independent public register for the Health and Fitness Industry in the UK, with over 15,000 members signed up – many of these members are personal trainers.

Find a personal trainer – insurance

Check that your personal trainer has a first aid award, which must include a cardio-pulmonary resuscitation (CPR) certificate. A good personal trainer should have public liability insurance should anything go wrong and be able to show you an up-to-date insurance certificate.

Hiring a specialist personal trainer

Although all personal trainers offer general fitness programmes, many specialise in certain areas such as weight training or running. Some personal trainers will cater to older adults or specifically train women. Check out a personal trainer’s specialism as this means they’ll have more expertise and are likely to be more passionate about training in this field.

Coaching style

The approach a personal trainer takes with you is instrumental in how motivated you’ll be to exercise regularly. Get it wrong and you may dread sessions with your personal trainer – and ultimately give up. Different styles of coaching work best with different people.

Personality and training style are crucial things to consider when you are trying to find a personal trainer. A drill sergeant style instruction may work well for some people, while others appreciate a more empathetic, cheerleading approach. Either way, talk to the personal trainer to get an idea about their style or ask for a shorter trial session to see if their style works for you.

Overall, you want a personal trainer who is a good listener, sets reasonable objectives, and doesn’t promise unrealistically fast results. A good personal trainer will know when you can push it to a more challenging level and when you need to take a step back.

Interested in yoga for over 50? We’ve put together a guide to yoga for over 50 – 10 health benefits of yoga.

How personal trainers track and monitor progress

Hiring a personal trainer means you want to see results from your exercise. A key part of this is understanding how a personal trainer tracks and monitors your progress.

Look for the ability to create a personalized fitness programme when looking you find a personal trainer. A personalised fitness programme should help you achieve your goals, and include benchmarks such as weight loss, strength and muscle mass gain, and other metrics. Ask how often your progress will be reviewed, and how long it will take to achieve goals. Ask what progress you should be making at certain points along the way.

Find a personal trainer – availability

A good personal trainer is likely to be fairly booked up with other clients, which makes availability and fitting into your day a key consideration. Ask them about their schedule, hours they work, and how many clients they work with. A roster of clients that is too packed can lead to delays as they travel between clients.

It’s also worth asking how they handle cancelled appointments – including how much notice you need to give, and whether you need to still pay the fee. Some personal trainers may roll over an unused session to the following week, for example.

Costs of hiring a personal trainer

Although personal trainers typically charge around £30-£50 per hour, the cost of hiring a personal trainer will vary depending on your location. In London, personal training sessions can cost up to £150 an hour.

If you haven’t the budget for ongoing one-to-one sessions, ask about semi-private workouts. This typically involves training with one or two other clients – something between one-on-one training and a group class.  You can also ask about discounts for buying sessions in bulk.

Finally, consider a one-off session every month or so as an additional extra to your normal workout routine.  That way you can address specific health and fitness concerns, fine-tune your workout and help you track your progress.