What Makes a Personal Trainer Great?

Read Time: 7 Minutes

Personal training has always been a passion of mind. I started training myself at 12 years old without truly understanding the power of staying fit and healthy. In fact, as kids, most of us were always outside and active. This meant that we were burning hundreds of calories daily without much of an effort.

I was so in love with how I felt after a training session that I would admire my small gains in the mirror prior to leaving the fitness center in my apartment complex. I would also take pride in training my friends because they realized that I was becoming stronger over time.

As the year’s went on, my friends trusted me to create full exercise regimens for them to use depending on their goals. Even though I was not a certified personal trainer (and as of this writing, I’m still not a certified personal trainer), they believed I knew how to manipulate the body to respond in a way that you can become physically stronger.

To this day, I still have close friends and acquaintances who choose me to be involved in one of the most important shifts of their lives: getting fit. I take great pride in ensuring that I focus on proper form and sustainable execution of each rep, set, and exercise. However, I’ve noticed some fitness professionals who have more book-based knowledge than myself but aren’t as passionate as I am with making sure the clients achieve the best results.

In my humble opinion, you must have certain intangibles as a personal trainer to allow your client to achieve success. Not just success once in a while or when they’re in your presence. I am talking about sustained success. That means you’ve done your job so well that the same client you had in January will no longer need you for the same goals in August.

You would have helped them to build a foundation that provides them with the stability to build upon their new self and achieve more. If you’re like me, then you don’t want just an average trainer who looks at their position as a “job”. You want a companion to lead you on this journey.

But what makes a personal trainer great? What should you look for the next time you fill out a membership application and request the services of a personal trainer? Let Achromous Fitness be your guide for that answer! 


Let’s talk about being flexible and I am not talking about your body. I am talking about the dedication your trainer has to your success. Granted, personal trainers are busy people, too. They don’t want their time wasted by trainee’s who are not be dedicated or have an excuse for every workout regimen prescribed for them.

However, if you have dedicated yourself to becoming a stronger or more fit person and you’ve demonstrated your dedication by showing up and being results-oriented, then your trainer should match your energy. Let’s face it: shit happens! Emergencies are a part of everyday life and at times we must deal with them at short notice. You will need a trainer who understands the predicament you might be in at any given time.

Your trainer may even help advise you with your situation and motivate you to pull through rather than letting you believe you’re alone. A trainer is supposed to be “personal” with you. Of course, there are boundaries that you should set. However, building a professional and personal bond with your trainer is the only way to be held accountable and achieve the goals you want.


It goes without saying, but your trainer should be knowledgeable on the subject. My preference is to have a trainer who is certified, however, it isn’t a requirement for me. Just know that if we’re doing leg curls on back day, I am going to have questions. Your trainer should understand your goal and develop a training regimen that will help you achieve that goal and that goal alone.

Your trainer should know that Rome wasn’t built in a day and your body is no different. There should be a structure in place to achieve those mini milestones first before increasing the difficulty or changing any part of the regimen. Rep mastery is vital! Your trainer should want to encourage you to come back for more not scare you off after your first visit.


The last thing I want is my trainer to mix me up, a 32-year-old male, with a 76-year-old female when it comes to providing me with a specific exercise regimen. Though my body is beat to hell, I think I can still handle some heavier weights. Your trainer should be organized from the time you walk through the front door for a session until the time you leave.

After your first testing session, they should know exactly what your strengths/weaknesses are. They should understand your mobility, how you process information and exercises and what you need to work on, without them present, to get closer to your goals. Most trainers have a file, electronically or on paper, that they can reference for your specific workout. You’re going to want to measure your progress as well to ensure the goals your trainer has set for you are being accomplished.


“Do I look fat in these leggings?”

“…a little…”

Sometimes, well all the time, honesty will help you grow. I get it. You must understand that everyone who walks into a gym is there to improve on something or release something. For me, I am in there to improve my physique and my mental fitness as well as release stress after a long day’s work. That means that EVERYONE is a work in progress. Everyone is looking to become fit, strong or healthy.

The best thing your trainer can do is be honest about your current condition and constructively help you by providing professional advice or tips to help you grow outside of the gym and the trainer’s session. You don’t want your trainer telling you what you want to hear. You also don’t want your trainer to be a total asshole. A nice balance would help your growth tremendously and you both will be happy with the end result, even if the journey is difficult.


I am known as a “personal” personal trainer. Ask my beautiful wife, ask my friends and my clients I’ve trained in the past. I try not to invade their personal space. However, when I am training, I love to teach as well. This allows my clients to learn exactly what they’re working on and why they’re using that particular exercise to work on it.

I speak my clients through the repetitions to ensure they’re placing emphasis on the muscle group that is being worked and direct them to make subtle changes in order to focus on form and execute the exercise properly. I do all of this at a relatively light weight for the client since form is much more important than weight. Once my clients have mastered the form, we can increase the weight.

Your trainer should have this in mind as well.

They shouldn’t be close enough to you that you can smell what they had for lunch. However, your trainer should be paying close attention to how you are lifting. He should also explain why this exercise will help you to achieve your goals. Make sure your trainer is paying close attention to you as you’re lifting. Feel free to ask for feedback after a set to ensure your form is solid before moving up in weight.


As I mentioned before, in all of this, your personal trainer is your friend. I love training clients that are open to learning and motivated to change their old habits in order to improve. I always ask my clients “why waste your money with me if you’re not dedicated to change? This is a long-term investment for yourself and this is a lifestyle change.”

Your trainer doesn’t need to know your social security number or even be a part of your social life. However, it does help to let them in and allow them to understand what may be preventing you from creating a healthy habit to accompany your lifestyle change. Most trainers truly care for their clients and what them to succeed. However, most trainees will never stick to their regimens or remain in shape for the rest of their lives.

It is important that you build a lifestyle around your new healthy life. This isn’t a diet or a challenge. It’s a lifestyle. Once you understand that type of mentality, the process will become clearer and your ability to succeed will be enhanced.

Tell us your personal trainer horror stories! This can be from the perspective of a trainer or trainee. The best story we receive will be featured on the next episode of The Achromous Podcast!

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