Personal trainers Jesse Kepka and Chad Austin have been training together for several years.

How to choose a personal trainer? First, get to know them

By Jesse Kepka
NASM Certified Personal Trainer and Corrective Exercise Specialist


Aside from looking for someone with necessary certifications and knowledge of the body and its ingenious mobility, I’d like to touch on an aspect of training that I find most people don’t expect. We want you to reach your goals safely and even surpass them. But there’s more.

The trainer to trainee relationship is a very unique one, and once you get past the obvious qualifications, the most important thing to look for is those who offer free or discounted initial sessions to make sure your personalities jive. Why? Because it’s an intimate friendship. If you don’t trust each other, it’s not going to work. One of you will eventually fire the other one and you’ll be back at square one. It certainly takes more than a couple of sessions to build a relationship, yes, but upon a few meetings, you can usually tell if they’re going to listen, understand, and lead with compassion.

Now, here’s what I mean about intimacy. I mean being honest about your body, sweating and grunting and spitting and struggling and coming through wins and losses. In my experience, hidden emotions from life happenings outside the gym tend to sneak into the workout when you least expect it, in a side-swiping manner. We are not therapists in any remote sense of the word, but it can definitely be an emotional process. This is where the trust comes into play, most importantly, leading with compassion.

Good trainers want so much to bring you across the finish line of whatever your goals are, so it should be about listening to you. It should be about celebrating every little accomplishment, every time you get just one more rep than usual, every higher jump, every extra punch. Understanding when you’re burnt out and you just need to walk it off. Understanding when you’ve had a hell of a night before and you just want to do ball slams for the entire session to exhale your frustrations.

Just as weaknesses come into the gym, the strengths gained leave with you and you feel it outside the gym in poignant moments. It crisscrosses and it’s amazing. Trust me. So take your time, be comfortable in being vulnerable (because that’s where we find growth) and find the jive.

…make sure your personalities jive. Why? Because it’s an intimate friendship. If you don’t trust each other, it’s not going to work.