5 Ways to Work with a Personal Trainer Based on Your Fitness Needs   (You Might Be Surprised!)

5 Ways to Work with a Personal Trainer Based on Your Fitness Needs (You Might Be Surprised!)

With so many options of personal training services available, it can be a confusing world to navigate!  In today’s blog, we breakdown the common types of fitness services offered out there and some insights about which ones would be best for you and which ones you should avoid based on your needs.  The intention is to help you identify the best support for you to ensure a healthy and happy relationship with fitness.

We have worked with thousands of clients and prospective clients over the last 10 years.  While we’ve seen what works for people, we’ve also seen that what works isn’t always what you think is going to.  To save you some time, trial, error and utter disappointment, we’ve broken it down so you can go in knowing exactly what you’re looking for.

Whether you are new to fitness and trying to decide, or you’ve tried before and are figuring out your next move, this blog will have some useful insights to get you started/restarted on the best track for you.  Let’s dive right in!

The Big Three

Let’s first set out what the main areas are in order for you to be successful with training:

  1. Accountability

  2. Movement Skill

  3. Program Design

Accountability is what keeps you consistent.  Consistency is what leads you to results.  Accountability is the number 1 reason why people hire a Personal Trainer.  There are other reasons, too, which we will discuss, but if you aren’t consistent, you won’t see results.  Hence, hiring a trainer to hold you accountable.  You really have to be honest with yourself and look at past experiences (related to fitness or not) to see how accountable you will be at being consistent with something that is not yet a habit or a habit that needs to intensify.  There will be times where you’d rather be doing something else...but will you still train?  Only you know the answer to this.

Movement is skill.  Yes, movement is a skill!  You need to be taught how to move.  Read that again, I’m not kidding.  Moving well is a skill.  The good thing with skills is that they can be developed through coaching!  The quality of your movement greatly impacts the safety and effectiveness of your training.  You can just go through the movements, or you can truly experience which muscles should be working at what time in each movement and be completely in tune with your body.  You can master your body’s movement and it is there where you will train intentionally for intentional results.  Unless you have spent time intentionally learning how to move with a qualified fitness professional, chances are, this is a huge area of opportunity for you.

Program design. Great programs are designed intentionally to challenge your body in the right way at the right time.  It covers all possibilities for “holes in your armor” to make you an efficient machine.  Program design is a science, actually.  It should not be done at random nor  for the sake of entertainment.  Every variable in a program is carefully selected like the sounds of each instrument in an orchestra.  Together, they create something quite powerful and moving.  Your programs should have specific results (or adaptations) that will stimulate change in your body.  It should factor in off days or active recovery days and other recovery protocols, movement prep (like mobility and stability), and your detailed training sessions.  An effective  program has the major movements included with slight changes to each to progress the movement.  Your results from one program are then used to help develop the next program to continue to make changes.  Programs should change roughly every 4-6 weeks.  

Let's dive a little deeper into each, shall we?

Personal Training 1-on-1 In Person

What it brings:  High accountability from your trainer as you will see them 2-4 times per week.  This high touch service ensures all areas for results are covered.  Next, it comes with on-the-spot coaching and adjustments based on what’s happening right in the session.  You might be under-recovered, over-stressed, or have a random nagging muscle/joint and your trainer will adjust to your needs on the spot.  They bring your program, their coaching eye, and you just have to show up and be engaged in the process.  Any level of client would benefit from this experience.

Do this if:  You want accountability, the most personalized experience, everything done for you, and cost is no issue.  

It may cost you membership, studio or travel fees on top of your hourly fee.

Personal Training 1-on-1 Online

What it brings:  Similar to the above, it brings all the accountability, live coaching and adjustments. These training sessions are based on your environment, your needs and goals, and how your body is operating that day.  This service can be seen as less effective than the above service, but what is the difference in the coaching? Your coach isn’t physically there to adjust you.  If communication is clear and you have a functioning internet connection to stream live video, this is an “anywhere-with-internet” service, meaning you can stay on track while you are away from home on business trips or on vacation.  One perk of this service is that you can do it from the convenience of your home, without commuting, without membership fees to a gym and have a better chance of being consistent.  Any level of client would benefit from this experience.

Do this if:  You want accountability, a personalized experience, learning how to set up your workout and be agile with the equipment you have on hand, convenience of training anywhere with internet

This option may come with equipment costs if you are looking to upgrade your at-home experience on top of your hourly fee.

Small Group Training

What it brings:  Social accountability, less attention per person than 1-on-1, usually a fun and dynamic environment for someone who is a bit more independent in trying movements without full 1-on-1 attention.  The small group trainer should have a game plan that progresses through the program so you can progress along with it.  Organized well, the sessions are usually organized by stations, and exercises done for reps at a certain pace or for time.  Depending on the gym’s set-up, you could see almost any type of class done in a small group setting from beginner level to calisthenics to Olympic lifting.  Class sizes of 1 instructor to 8-10 people or less is ideal to ensure safe and effective execution of training.  Any level of client can benefit from this experience.

Do this if: You enjoy training in a social group environment where you can work independently and well with others.  

Custom Training Program

What it brings:  A well designed program specifically made for you.  This service usually includes a consultation or assessment appointment so your trainer knows exactly what is happening and has happened with your body.  Custom programs factor in your goals, any movement restrictions/injuries you might have, lifestyle factors, and your training environment/equipment available.  What is effective with this program is access to your coach to check-in, ask questions, provide feedback, and get any program adjustments needed.  This approach is great for clients who have high accountability to their training and have had experience being coached (for movement skills).  Clients with mid-high level experience benefit most from these programs.  Clients with low movement execution experience will not benefit as much as someone who has the skills of moving well. 

Do this if:  You have high accountability to your training and lifestyle factors.  You know how to move well but you may not know how to design a program.  

You may or may not have touch points after your program has been given to you.  In this case, it’s not a bad idea to find ways to hold yourself accountable.

Already Made Program

What it brings:  A pre-set program, done well, is a safe and effective training program made to move clients with general goals forward.  They are designed to make sense (based on science), be progressible into the next phases of training, and come with minimal accountability from your coach.  There could be many people in different starting points doing the same set program.  These programs are more effective if the client brings their own accountability and they have some knowledge of how to move well.  Many fitness companies who are current, know that exercise videos are a huge help to keep clients going and so they have included this in their programs or the apps that deliver them.  Programs that incorporate some demonstration of how to execute the exercises will have a higher success rate than those that don’t.  Set programs can be built for low to high experienced clients.

Do this if:  You are looking for an economical way to have professional help.  You will need to be responsible to show up on your own and to figure out how to move well.  Usually, the only benefit of this program is the actual design of the program.  You have to figure out the rest.  

It’s very easy to purchase programs with the intention to do them, however, intentions don’t get results.  Actions do.  Not taking action can cost you your results.


Now that you’ve read it in more detail, it’s not to say that someone with high accountability can’t do a service that provides high accountability.  What this does say is that someone who has low accountability on their own, will likely not be successful on a program that does not provide accountability.  It’s never a bad idea to get more help than you think you might need and then adjust if needed.  You do not want to commit to a service that does not give you the minimum support you need to be successful.  The worse thing to happen is that you fall off having a poor taste in your mouth with all things related to fitness.

Friendly reminder!  Regardless of which service you determine is best for you, make sure you are working with a qualified professional.

Have you figured out your method and you're just about to start?  Check out this blog with helpful tips to get started to ensure you have the best experience on your fitness journey.

We want to hear from you!  What is one area you need help with from our Big 3 and which service is best suited for your success? 

Leave a comment below and share this with one person you think could benefit from it!

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