best personal trainer toronto

How to Find a Good Personal Trainer or Coach: 5 Mistakes to Avoid!

Consider This Guide Before Investing in a Personal Trainer!

This comprehensive guide will assist you in distinguishing between an inadequate personal trainer and the best personal trainer Toronto.

Believe us, having the right trainer can significantly impact your fitness journey.

Nothing is more disheartening than investing time and money for over six months with a trainer, only to find minimal progress on the scale.

I’ve experienced excellent and subpar trainers in my seven years of training, maintaining a working relationship with the same online personal trainer since 2014. Additionally, we’ve built a team of 10 highly competent personal trainers.

In summary, we possess extensive experience and expertise and are here to provide you with honest advice.

Regardless of whether you’re considering our 1-on-1 Online Training Program, this guide will furnish you with valuable insights.

In this guide, we will delve into the positive aspects, the drawbacks, and the less favourable aspects of personal trainers, whether they’re working in-person or online:

  • What do you need from a personal trainer?
  • How to find an excellent personal trainer.
  • What are the signs of a bad personal trainer?
  • What certifications should a personal trainer have?
  • How much does a personal trainer cost?
  • Pros and cons of hiring an online personal trainer.
  • How to hire a personal trainer: next steps.

What do you need from a personal trainer

In the video, Coach underscores a critical factor to consider when engaging a personal trainer: Do their objectives align with yours?

This necessitates setting your goals upfront! Begin by identifying your objectives, then evaluate if the prospective trainer is a suitable match for you. It’s akin to dating; you might meet a fantastic individual, but they may not be the perfect fit for you. Just as a competitive marathon runner may not be the best choice for a powerlifting coach, and vice versa.

So, commence by defining your objectives for seeking a personal trainer:

  • Are you looking to shed 300 pounds, lose 20, or reach 10% body fat?
  • Is your goal to gain strength or master your first handstand?
  • Do you aspire to become a competitive powerlifter?
  • Are you striving to complete your first 5k run?
  • Is your focus primarily on getting fit, feeling better, and enjoying exercise?

These objectives will significantly influence the type of trainer you should pursue.

COMMON MISTAKE #1: Overlooking the need to ensure your trainer has expertise in your desired training area.

Being proficient in one domain doesn’t automatically qualify them for another!

Following this, consider what you NEED from your trainer:

  • Are you in search of a powerlifting coach to instruct you on the fundamentals (squat, deadlift, bench) and ensure proper form? A few initial sessions and occasional check-ins may suffice.
  • Are you a newcomer to the fitness scene, looking to kickstart your first two months of training with two sessions per week to maintain discipline?
  • What kind of individual are you? Do you thrive with hands-on guidance during workouts or prefer the autonomy to lead and succeed independently? Do you need motivation or benefit from a trainer who offers tough love and keeps you accountable?

Once you have clear expectations regarding your preferences and the duration you’ll need a trainer, you can select one that aligns well with your needs.

How to find a good personal trainer

A personal trainer stretching out a client.

After pinpointing a potential trainer to collaborate with, the subsequent crucial step involves initiating a thorough discussion.

COMMON MISTAKE #2: Accepting your trainer’s guidance without ensuring compatibility!

  • They SHOULD listen attentively, absorbing your complete story.
  • They SHOULD inquire about any prior injuries or exercise experiences you might have had. Understanding your injuries or limitations allows them to devise an effective program tailored to you.
  • They SHOULD discuss your dietary habits. Refrain from neglecting this; it would be a disservice to your time.
  • They SHOULD practice what they preach. While not requiring Olympic-level fitness, they should embody a healthy lifestyle.
  • They SHOULD inform you about their expertise and how they can aid you. Sharing past client success stories or presenting their credentials and track record of accomplishments is crucial.
  • They SHOULD establish realistic expectations. You won’t attain a perfectly toned physique in a month, but they can convey that it might take several months to reach your fitness objectives or develop the proper habits.

These are the key aspects to consider. Our personalized online coaching program emphasizes these points. We derive satisfaction from assisting individuals in a way that resonates with their lifestyle at a pace that suits them, all while ensuring an enjoyable journey.

What are the Signs of a bad personal trainer?

Exercise caution with trainers promoting ‘entertainment exercise’ routines that do not align with your objectives.

Common mistake #3: Assuming a workout is more effective simply because it’s complicated.

Many trainers attempt to bewilder clients with unnecessarily intricate exercises, sticking everyone to an almost identical, generic routine.

Why? Because it gives the illusion of expertise without needing to be genuinely effective:

“Now, maintain your balance on this bosu ball while performing these convoluted dumbbell squat lunges and standing on one foot with your tongue out! Muscle confusion! I hope you’ve saved some energy for the rowing machine.”

Make sure the training from your PT matches your goals!

Make sure your personal training routine aligns with your goals!

Challenging workouts are beneficial, but remember, while it’s easy to exhaust someone with “do 100 burpees!” it’s more difficult to help someone steadily progress and gain momentum.

Indeed, it may elevate your heart rate and tire you out, but if it doesn’t contribute to your goals in a manner unique from what you could achieve at home, what’s the value of what you’re investing in?

Moreover, they might have only a basic certification and stop their education there, relying on ‘conventional wisdom’ rather than conducting thorough research and accumulating experience.

If your trainer utters any of these phrases, be cautious:

  • “Don’t squat too low; it’s detrimental to your knees.”
  • “Use this machine; it’s safer for you than free weights” (unless you have an injury)
  • “Yes, you should mainly engage your back. That’s why it’s called the back squat.”
  • “These (ab) exercises will swiftly melt fat from your stomach.” (Spot reduction of fat isn’t possible.)

I’ve heard these catchphrases from genuine trainers at real gyms, and it moved me profoundly, much like the Native American in the 1970s pollution ad.

Your trainer should prioritize achieving results rather than just booking additional sessions and keeping you in the loop.

I frequently observe clients working with trainers for extended periods, and yet the client’s physical appearance remains unchanged.

The trainer’s primary concern is cashing in on another payment.

Always remember, you hire your trainer: Ensure they tailor a program that meets your requirements!

  • Do they modify your workout routine to accommodate any existing injuries you may have, or do they provide a generic workout plan?
  • Are they genuinely supportive and assisting you in achieving your desired success, or are they distracted, scrolling through Instagram models while you complete your sets?
  • Are they investing time to witness your progress and results, or are they just fulfilling the time to tick a box and collect their fee?

You’re investing your money in this person’s expertise and attention – it’s reasonable to expect someone who treats these aspects with due seriousness.

What certifications should a personal trainer have?

A personal trainer high-fiving a client.

A wide array of certifications and credibility indicators are available for personal trainers.

The traditional route, such as obtaining a degree in exercise science or kinesiology, can signify a trainer’s understanding of the human body. However, it may reflect something other than their practical experience in coaching real-world clients.

Here are six well-known personal trainer certifications:

  • • NSCA: National Strength and Conditioning Association
  • • ACSM: American College of Sports Medicine
  • • NASM: National Academy of Sports Medicine
  • • ACE: American Council on Exercise
  • • NPTI: National Personal Training Institute
  • • CrossFit

NSCA and NASM provide a comprehensive review of the pros and cons from a trainer’s viewpoint, offering valuable insights for clients. Feel free to explore these to understand the basis of your trainer’s certification better.

CrossFit certifications can be acquired over a single weekend. While possessing a CrossFit certification does not necessarily indicate a trainer’s incompetence (as there are many exceptional CrossFit coaches), it also does not guarantee excellence.

NPTI offers a certification achieved through formal education in personal training, unlike a single class or exam. While no certification can guarantee absolute excellence, trainers with NPTI certifications deserve consideration.

IMPORTANT NOTE: Many exceptional trainers need certification, while others with elite credentials may not excel in training.

MISTAKE #4: We need to be more accepting or dismissing a trainer based solely on their credentials. Certifications are a good starting point but should not be the sole determinant.

One of the most critical attributes to look for in a trainer is not just a credential or certification but genuine experience and a passion for helping you achieve your goals.

For example:

  • Trying to lose a significant amount of weight? Ask for success stories from the trainer featuring clients with similar weight loss objectives.
  • In our opinion, finding a trainer with a proven track record and experience in the area aligned with your goals is the most valuable step towards ensuring quality.

Are you interested in powerlifting or Olympic lifting? Look for someone who has successfully competed in these domains or coaches athletes who compete in them! The certification is merely a starting point.

Trainers come at a cost, but the benefits they offer are invaluable. Remember, you’re not just paying for their time spent with you. You’re investing in their years devoted to learning, training, and coaching.

The years of dedication and experience behind the certification give value to their time. Hence, expect the cost of a trainer to be considerably more than a basic gym membership.

How much does a personal trainer cost? Are Personal Trainers Worth it?

The cost of hiring a personal trainer can vary significantly based on a variety of factors:

  • Location (residing in an expensive city, a smaller town, etc.).
  • Frequency and duration of training sessions.
  • Type of training you’re looking for.
  • Let’s delve into the specifics.

On average, a personal trainer in North America charges approximately $55 per hour per session.

To break it down, here are the prices for personal training at a typical commercial gym in the NYC area (which tends to be on the pricier side):

  • Four sessions per month: $95 per session = $380/month
  • Eight sessions per month: $85 per session = $680/month
  • 12 sessions per month: $79 per session = $948/month

How do these prices align with your expectations?

For In-Home Personal Training: The cost can vary widely if you prefer training at home, but a rough average is about $65 per hour per session.

Different trainers possess varying qualifications and expertise, resulting in diverse training experiences. This distinction is crucial.

MISTAKE #5: Assuming that a higher cost automatically translates to better results.

Cost is not the best measure; VALUE is.

Depending on your objectives and the outcomes you seek:

  • Paying $30 per session might be excessive for a subpar trainer who offers a generic workout and shows no genuine interest in your progress.
  • On the other hand, paying $100 per session might be a bargain if an exceptional trainer understands your lifestyle, motivates you effectively, and helps you overcome plateaus.

This is why keeping your fitness goals in mind is essential when selecting a personal trainer.

For instance:

Seeking five sessions to enhance your powerlifting technique is different from hiring a trainer to accompany you to the gym three times a week.


  • You’re not merely compensating for an hour of their time.
  • You’re investing in their years of experience, education, training, and expertise.
  • You’re entrusting your fitness queries to someone knowledgeable.
  • Someone who instills confidence that you’re training effectively.

Instead of viewing it as “I’m paying a lot for just one hour with this trainer,” recognize that you’re investing in confidence, momentum, and, hopefully, tangible results.

As someone who has been under the guidance of an online trainer since 2014, I would willingly pay any amount to my coach (but let’s keep that between us), appreciating the results after years of struggle.

Comparing an in-person trainer to our online coaching program:

  • Our pricing is more cost-effective than four sessions per month with a trainer.
  • In addition to creating a monthly workout plan, we guide you on nutrition, mindset, and goals, addressing all your inquiries.

Hiring an online personal trainer has definite pros and cons, so be sure to read the next section.

A trainer can be exceptional and worth every penny, provided you find the right one who actively engages in your nutrition.

After all, workouts only constitute a fraction of your weekly hours, ranging from 1 to 3 hours.

Should i hire an online personal trainer? What are the pros and cons of an online personal trainer?

before and after training

Disclaimer: I acknowledge a slight bias in this area, but I’ll provide an impartial evaluation of the pros and cons of online training:

As mentioned earlier, I’ve been utilizing an online trainer since 2014, and this experience allowed me to prove a skeptic wrong and shed 22 pounds in just six months, all while significantly improving my strength!

Here are the Advantages of Online Personal Training:

  • Flexibility to suit your schedule: When you have an online personal coach, you can work out at a time and place that suits you best – your coach designs the workout plan in advance, enabling you to integrate it into your daily routine seamlessly. In contrast, with a traditional coach, you’re subject to their busy schedule. Conflicts arise if their only available time is Friday morning at 8 a.m., and you’re not a morning person.
  • Consistent global accountability: I’ve borrowed this phrase from a coaching client named Jeff (whose success story is remarkable). Regardless of your location worldwide, your online trainer is with you, so accountability is constant. If you need to travel for work, your online coach can strategize and develop a specialized travel regimen. If a position requires you to move, no worries—your coach will continue to be there for you.
  • Dietary advice: When working with most traditional personal trainers, your interaction is limited to scheduled visits during which they assist you with your workout, and that’s about it. However, with an online personal trainer, you’re connected whenever you have internet access. Most online coaching programs focus on a crucial aspect: guiding you to eat a healthier diet! Essentially, it addresses everything outside the gym during the 23 hours.
  • More cost-efficient: In-person personal trainers tend to be expensive, primarily if you work out with them two or three times a week. This is because while your trainer works with you, they can only assist you. On the other hand, working with an online coach who doesn’t provide one-on-one training in the gym allows for more cost-effective guidance. When you consider their availability through chat and their assistance with habits and nutrition, finding a coach that aligns with your personality could be a life-changing experience.
  • The only viable option: Given the numerous gym closures due to the pandemic, you may not have many choices. Here’s our guide to maintaining fitness (while indoors) if you must train from home. In comparing online coaches to traditional coaches, I’ll present the drawbacks, assuming you can choose between an exceptional online coach and an outstanding in-person coach.

While an online coach can track your activity and inquire about any missed check-ins on your app, this comes after the fact compared to the immediacy of an in-person coach being stood up.

There are numerous factors to consider when comparing in-person training with an online personal trainer. I wouldn’t definitively state that one format is superior to the other. It genuinely depends on your goals and individual circumstances.

BASED ON MY PERSONAL EXPERIENCE: I’ve been under the guidance of an online trainer since 2014, and it has genuinely transformed my life. I had specific goals that had eluded me despite a DECADE of striving, and it required an excellent coach to devise the right approach. That’s why I went from Steve Rogers to Captain America. I’m not aiming to set any powerlifting records, but I’m noticeably healthier, happier, and progressively stronger each month. I take immense pride in that.

For those unable to afford a top-tier professional coach for every session, having an online coach to structure your training and offer dietary guidance is a compelling alternative.

How to hire a personal trainer

HERE’S MY RECOMMENDATION: Provide your new personal trainer a fair opportunity with a minimum of 5 sessions before deciding if it’s a good match (sessions are often offered at a discount when bought as a package).

Typically, the initial session involves exploration, explanations, and introductions. The trainer requires this time to assess your boundaries and movements to develop a personalized plan.

This isn’t a “get fit quick” approach; it may take several months to discover the right person to support you on your fitness journey.

Don’t anticipate instant miracles!

Some advice if you decide to engage a trainer:

DON’T ATTRIBUTE BLAME TO YOUR TRAINER: Many individuals hire a trainer but invest minimal effort at the gym or in their diet. Later, when they don’t witness the desired results, they blame their trainer, stating, “My trainer is terrible; that’s why I’m not losing weight/getting stronger, etc.” This scenario is more common than you’d imagine. A trainer is a guide, akin to Morpheus. Like a personal trainer, Morpheus shows you the way, but you must put in the effort.

Morpheus is kind of like a personal trainer, he'll show you the way but you have to do the work.

You need to metaphorically ‘take the pill’ and act.

TURN CRITICISM INTO CONSTRUCTIVE FEEDBACK: Frequently, when the trainer suggests something (like daily walks, eliminating junk food, or adding vegetables to the diet), the client comes up with a myriad of reasons why it’s not feasible. There’s no willingness to negotiate or find potential solutions. This approach could be more beneficial. Instead of outright rejecting the suggestion, propose an alternative and devise a plan: “I’m not fond of broccoli; can you recommend a way to make vegetables more appealing?” Essentially, concentrate on solutions rather than problems.

IF YOU ENJOY YOUR TRAINING EXPERIENCE: Convey your satisfaction and continue collaborating with your trainer. The more details you offer about your progress, the better they can customize your program as you progress.

IF YOU’RE NOT SATISFIED WITH YOUR TRAINER: That’s completely acceptable. Only some associations lead to a long-term commitment. Some initial experiences may not meet expectations, and specific trainers might not be the right fit. It’s okay to be forthright and let them know it’s not working out. Good trainers will appreciate your feedback and inquire about areas for improvement. Trainers who are solely focused on monetary gain may attempt to guilt you or persuade you to continue. Consider trying a different trainer and persist in your search.

REMEMBER: This is a lifelong journey; you’re searching for a great guide to aid you on this adventure. They won’t do the work for you and can’t perform miracles. Set achievable expectations and follow instructions; this could be one of the finest investments you’ll make in your life!

Rebel trainers, did I miss anything?

To those with training experience, any wisdom to share from your journey?

One final note: Joining a gym can be daunting, particularly if you’re commencing.

If you’re in a location with great trainers, lack access to a gym, or need more preparation for in-person training, consider exploring our Online Coaching Program!