10 Reasons You're Afraid to Hire a Personal Trainer

Though personal training is more mainstream than ever, there are still plenty of people hesitant to hire a trainer. They worry about the cost, they worry about the pain, and they wonder things like: Will I look like a complete idiot? These fears are normal, but you shouldn't let them stop you from hiring a personal trainer.


It's Too Expensive

Personal training can be expensive, costing anywhere from $35 an hour to more than $100, depending on where you live and your trainer's experience. Still, there are plenty of reasons to hire a trainer, and it can be a good investment.

If you end up with an exercise habit, long-term weight loss, and a resource you can turn to for advice, that's a pretty good pay-off. When budget is an issue, consider these options:

  • Negotiate with your trainer: Not all trainers will do this, but it's worth asking.
  • Try semi-private training: With this, you may train with around one to five other people in a very small group setting, often in a circuit training format.
  • Consider small group training: This may be a boot camp-style class with a limited number of exercisers and either a flat fee for a series of classes or a fee for individual classes.
  • Work out with a friend: You can also save money by working out with a friend or family member. Either share the cost of hiring a trainer, or help each other with motivation and commitment.

I'm Out of Shape

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If it's been a long time (or ever) since you've worked out, hiring a trainer may bring up scary questions.

  • What if I can't do the exercises? You need time to reconnect with your body in a physical way, and that means you may not do the exercises right. Give yourself time to learn the exercises before getting discouraged. Your trainer will be there to help.
  • What if I can't make it through a workout? Your trainer's job is to create workouts that match what your body can handle. If something feels too challenging, say so. Your trainer needs that information to know when to push and when to back off.​
  • What if my trainer thinks I'm not motivated? Your trainer will ask tough questions about your exercise and eating habits, revealing things even your friends or family may not know. You may feel vulnerable revealing those secrets, but your trainer isn't there to judge you. They are too busy thinking about what they are going to do to help you reach your goals.

When you're starting out with a personal trainer, remember:

  • You're stronger than you think you are.
  • You know more than you think you do.
  • It gets easier with time and practice.

I Don't Know What to Expect

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In the absence of experience, you may imagine all kinds of scary things that could happen during your personal training session. But your trainer isn't going to make you do anything you aren't ready for. And you can calm your fears by being prepared.

  • Do your research: Before you hire any old trainer, get recommendations from friends or use IDEA Fitness Connect to find trainers in your area that have been vetted and, often, reviewed.
  • Express your fears: You can often get instant reassurance by talking about what you're afraid of. Write down questions before meeting with a trainer: What should you wear? What will you do during the first session? Should you bring your own water or towel?
  • Look for warning flags: Look for alarm bells that go off during your first meeting. Did the trainer gloss over important facts about your health history or fail to ask anything at all? Did they say their favorite part of a workout is when their client pukes at the end? If so, move on!

I'm Afraid It Will Hurt

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Exercise shouldn't cause pain. There will likely be some discomfort, of course, which is true anytime your body does things it isn't used to.

During Your Workout

It's normal to feel some burning in your muscles, especially if you're a beginner or if you're doing high intensity or high repetition exercises. This is uncomfortable, but it will pass and may become less of a problem as you get stronger.

The Jello effect is also normal. It happens when your body becomes fatigued and wobbles in an alarming way, much like Jello. This should pass with a rest period, but tell your trainer if you feel very weak and/or unstable. You may need more recovery time.

You shouldn't feel any actual pain, though. Any sharp, stabbing pain in the joints, muscles, or connective tissue should get your immediate attention.

After Your Workout

Your body has more than 600 muscles. You won't work all of them during one workout, but you may feel like you have. It's normal to feel an exercise everywhere, even in seemingly unrelated body parts. As you build strength in the weaker areas of your body, this will be less of an issue.

Any new activity can cause soreness within 24 to 48 hours of your workout. Some soreness is normal, and you may find that an anti-inflammatory, a hot bath, or a massage can help.

However, if you can't brush your hair/walk down the stairs/breathe without pain, you overdid it. Tell your trainer if you experience excessive soreness so they can scale back on your workouts a bit.


I'm Afraid of an Injury

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This is a healthy fear, but one that shouldn't stop you from hiring a trainer. Any movement can cause injury, and activities that combine a personal trainer, a new exerciser, heavy equipment, and moving body parts can increase that risk.

A good trainer will do everything possible to avoid this, but there's no guarantee you won't get hurt. To decrease your risk of injury:

  • Be honest and thorough: Fill out a health history form before you start exercising. List any past or current injuries, surgeries, or medical conditions. Tell your trainer about any pain you have, any movements that bother you, or any exercises that have caused problems in the past.
  • Be your own advocate: If anything feels wrong during an exercise, stop. Injuries often happen when you work through pain rather than stopping. Some clients are shy about speaking up. But even the most skilled trainer can't anticipate everything.
  • Get a check-up: ​If you're worried about aggravating an old injury, see your doctor to get clearance before you start a workout program.
  • Give regular feedback: Complaining during a workout session is fun, and you can make it useful by being specific. For example, "I hate this exercise," isn't quite as helpful as, "I hate this exercise because it really bothers my right shoulder."

I Have Trainer Trauma

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If you've ever left a personal training session crying, limping, crawling, and/or vowing to stop payment on your check as soon as you have the strength to lift your phone, you've probably had Trainer Trauma.

Like every profession, personal training has its fair share of bad apples. Some trainers treat your first session like it's a contest to see how much torture your body can handle.

Some do this because they think that's what every client wants. Others do it because a client requests that kind of workout without realizing how hard it really is. The result is, at best, Trainer Trauma and, at worst, an injury.

For every bad trainer, there are hundreds of good ones. But after experiencing Trainer Trauma, you may need to approach your search in a new way.

  • Ask for recommendations from friends, family, or trusted websites like IDEA FitnessConnect.
  • Ask for references to get the real story about a trainer you're considering.
  • Be specific about what you want. When you do meet with your new trainer, tell them about your previous experience. What went wrong? What do you want to be different?
  • Look for experience and education: Make sure your trainer has experience training a wide variety of clients and dealing with any injuries or conditions you may have. They should also have an accredited personal training certification.

I'm Afraid of Failing

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Unfortunately, hiring a trainer is no guarantee of success. A trainer can do a lot of things for you—teach you an amazing variety of exercises, challenge you, give you personalized workouts, track your progress, and motivate you. However, they can't give you a desire to change.

Sometimes, hiring a personal trainer is no different than trying a new diet or a new fitness gadget in the hopes you'll find something that will finally work to help you achieve a weight loss or sports goal. But no diet or gadget or personal trainer is going to help if you aren't ready to live differently.

Having a standing appointment that you're paying for and an expert to guide you can certainly be motivating, but it's no talisman against failure. Before you take the plunge, ask yourself why you want to hire a trainer.

Good reasons to hire a trainer
  • You're not seeing results

  • You don't know where to start

  • You're stuck in a plateau

Bad reasons to hire a trainer
  • You want to lose weight fast

  • You feel pressured by aggressive salespeople

  • You want the perfect body

  • You think a trainer can magically transform you into the kind of person who is motivated to exercise


I'm Afraid of Committing

Personal trainer
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Hiring a personal trainer is a big commitment, and it's normal to get cold feet. It's more than just meeting someone for an hour to exercise. You're also committing:

  • Money: You may pay $35 to $100 an hour to work with a trainer, and that's a big investment. Look at your budget and figure out how much you can spend before signing up.
  • Time: Aside from your appointment time, you also need to account for prep time, drive time, and time to work out during the rest of the week. Look at your schedule to make sure you can fit this in, or consider an online personal trainer for added convenience.
  • Trust: You're trusting this person with your body, your time, and your goals. You should feel comfortable from the very first session. If you're not at ease from the get-go, go elsewhere.
  • Your lifestyle: Beyond a few weekly hours of exercise, you're committing to other changes as well: Your diet, how you spend your time, how active you are, how you sleep, how you deal with stress, etc. Make sure you're really ready to change before making the commitment.

I'm Afraid of Looking Like an Idiot

Man doing pushup
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When you hire a trainer, you will be expected to do a variety of physical movements and, yes, sometimes these movements will be awkward. Not only that, but your body will have a variety of responses to this physical activity: Sweating, shaking, wobbling, or just downright confusion. Some common worries:

  • Am I sweating too much? No. Clients often feel embarrassed when they leave a big pool of sweat on the weight bench. Your trainer is actually quite pleased when you sweat. It means that your body is doing what it's supposed to: Regulating your body temperature. Go forth and sweat.
  • Am I really this uncoordinated? No, you're not. Many exercises feel awkward, exposing the fact that you aren't perfect and that we all have to practice new things. Having patience, an open mind and a sense of humor will go a long way towards easing your self-consciousness.
  • Do I stink? Maybe. But your trainer has inhaled so much body odor, they probably don't even smell it anymore.
  • What if I fart? You certainly could, and frankly, it isn't that uncommon. The best way to deal with it is to laugh it off, saying something like, "I guess I picked the wrong day to eat a can of beans for lunch."

I'm Afraid I Won't Like My Trainer

Personal trainer
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When you're hiring a trainer, you're not just looking at someone's certification, experience, and education, you're also looking at their personality. Most personal trainers can get along with a wide range of people, but not all personalities mesh very well.

Increase your odds of finding the right trainer by thinking about what's important to you. That might include:

  • Gender: If you have a preference for whether you want to work with a male or female, speak up right away.
  • Personality: Do you want someone who's quietly encouraging or someone more aggressive?
  • Training style: Most trainers will adapt to what you want and need, but every trainer is different. For example, if you want new, creative workouts, make that clear from the beginning so the trainer doesn't stick you on the same old machines. Giving your trainer some guidance may save you, and the trainer, from a bad experience.

Most important, speak up if things aren't going well. Unless you spell it out, your trainer may have no clue you're unhappy.

7 Sources
Verywell Fit uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
  1. Madeson MN, Hultquist CN, Church A, Fisher LA. A phenomenological investigation of women's experiences with personal training. Int J Exerc Sci. 2010;3(3):157-169. 

  2. Vogel A. What to do when a training client can’t get the exercise technique right. National Academy of Sports Medicine.

  3. Cleveland Clinic. When is It OK to push through pain during exercise?

  4. National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases. Healthy muscles matter.

  5. Crockford J. Five reasons you shouldn’t skip your cool-down after exercise. American Council on Exercise.

  6. Long A. Top 10 benefits of personal training. American Council on Exercise.

  7. Baker LB. Physiology of sweat gland function: The roles of sweating and sweat composition in human health. Temperature (Austin). 2019;6(3):211-259. doi:10.1080/23328940.2019.1632145

By Paige Waehner, CPT
Paige Waehner is a certified personal trainer, author of the "Guide to Become a Personal Trainer," and co-author of "The Buzz on Exercise & Fitness."