Whether you are just getting started with fitness, or you’re an experienced gym-goer, personal trainers can help you get better and faster results.
They will construct the ideal workout routine for you while also helping you stay motivated and holding you accountable.
However, for those who haven’t used a personal trainer before, it can be a little intimidating! You don’t know what to expect and you might wonder if your trainer will be the right fit for you.
To help you understand what your first personal training session will be like, I spoke with several personal trainers to get some valuable tips to have a successful first session.
Some of the most important things to remember during your first personal training session are:
- Be honest about any injuries or physical limitations
- Prepare with questions
- Go in with an open mind
- Show up early
- Determine your fitness goals
- Work to build a strong working relationship
Your first meeting with a trainer will likely include filling out some questionnaires about your health and lifestyle; taking measurements, weight, and body fat levels; running through a basic fitness assessment; and possibly completing a sample workout.
Let’s take a closer look at each of these tips to prepare for your first session, and a step-by-step of what a typical 1st personal training session looks like.
1. Be Honest About Any Injuries or Physical Limitations
To have a safe and effective first personal training session, personal trainer Billy Daniels recommends:
“Telling your trainer about past injuries and physical limitations is important so your trainer can work with this.
“If you have injured your back in the past, then it will be important for your trainer to know that so that they can evaluate your back and other areas of your body to see if there are any imbalances or weaknesses there that need to be addressed.”
Personal trainers are 100% focused on you during the training session, making each workout regime unique to you.
Being honest about your injuries will give them the necessary information needed to make the ideal program.
Even if you feel as if an injury is in the past and not affecting you anymore, you should still bring it up to your trainer.
Many injuries can leave a lasting effect on your body, and any slight movement the wrong way can re-aggravate it.
2. Prepare with Questions
While the personal trainer will most likely be asking you the most questions throughout your first session, it’s also an excellent time to ask them questions as well.
The purpose of a personal trainer is to speed up your fitness progress and inform you about the proper way to do things.
Your personal training session is all about improving your health, so it’s crucial to ask questions if you don’t fully understand something.
If you don’t have any questions in mind, here are some that you can ask your trainer during your session:
- “Where should I feel this exercise?”
- “What should I be doing when we are not training together?”
- “What should I eat after this workout?” (Just remember that not all types of fitness instructors are qualified to give nutrition advice)
- “How challenging should this workout be?”
- “How long does your process take to see results?”
Questions like these will help you understand your personal trainer’s style and hear their insights to help you with your fitness goals.
Also, don’t be afraid to ask any question, even if you think it is too simple.
A personal trainer is there to help you, and there is no need to feel embarrassed when asking any question.
3. Go In With An Open Mind
To help put yourself in the right mindset for your personal training session, Justine Swenson of JustFit recommends:
“My one big tip for preparing for a good first session (online and offline) is to go into it with an open mind. I won’t get them to do anything that they are incapable of doing just yet, but they will need to be ready to take on new challenges.”
When you go in for your first personal training session, you must trust the personal trainer’s expertise.
They may want you to do an unfamiliar exercise, movement, or assessment that you haven’t seen before.
Keep an open mind and be willing to do a new exercise—even if you feel a little bit uncomfortable.
The new exercises are all part of the process of understanding where you are in your fitness journey so that they can set up your program accurately.
4. Show Up Early
To get started on a good note with your trainer, you should show up at least 10-minutes before your training session starts.
Showing up to your session early will show you respect their time and are motivated to get started.
If your personal trainer has not shown up yet or is helping another client, this is an excellent time to get settled and warm-up in the meantime.
If you are at a gym, let the person at the front desk know who you are scheduled to meet.
If this is your first time at the gym or training facility, this will give you some time to learn about the location of everything. If you aren’t in your gym clothes, take a trip to the changing rooms to get yourself ready.
Do some light stretching and get comfortable with the atmosphere of the gym or training facility.
Once your trainer is ready, they will introduce themselves, and just like that—you are at your first personal training session.
5. Determine Your Fitness Goals
To prepare for your first personal training session, Billy Daniels recommends:
“Before you begin your first session, you should have a well thought out goal of what it is that you want to accomplish.”
Just “getting into shape” isn’t a great goal, but you might want to focus on:
- Losing weight
- Improving your cardio endurance
- Building muscle
- Rehabbing injuries or pain
- Preparing for a fitness competition
One of the biggest reasons it helps to figure out what you want upfront is that it will help the personal trainer construct the ideal workout plan for you.
Everyone has different reasons for hiring a personal trainer, from wanting to be a better athlete to improving their physique for bodybuilding.
Each of these different goals will require the personal trainer to adjust the program to put you in the best position possible to achieve them.
6. Work to Build a Strong Working Relationship
As you and your personal trainer start training together, this is an excellent time to build a strong working relationship.
Your first few training sessions will most likely dictate how your future will look like with the trainer.
Voice your preferences to your trainer early on, such as your preferred motivation and teaching styles.
If, for example, you best learn a movement by watching someone do it first—let them know to adjust their teaching style accordingly.
If you prefer a more encouraging motivational style, let the personal trainer know, so they tone down the harsh boot camp style of motivating.
A great personal trainer will always act professionally and adjust their teaching styles to ensure you are happy and encouraged during your sessions.
What to Expect at Your First Personal Training Session
Let’s take a look at what a typical first session with a trainer will look like — every instructor is different, but this itinerary or agenda should give you a general idea of what to expect on day one.
Filling Out Forms
To get you started on your first personal training session, personal trainer Bruce Kelly says to expect a:
“PAR-Q (Physical Activity Readiness Questionnaire) or something similar: a questionnaire that asks relevant questions about your health status, injuries, medical history, etc.”
With this vital information, the personal trainer will construct the ideal workout routine based on your current health and past medical history. As we mentioned earlier in the article, be honest about any injuries you have suffered in the past.
Measuring Your Body Weight and Body Fat Levels
To gauge where you currently are in your fitness journey, the trainer will record your body weight and body fat levels. These will be used as a starting point that you two can use to track your progress throughout the personal trainer’s program.
When talking about this part of the training session, Billy Daniels shared some words of encouragement.
“You may need to get on the scale or have your body fat measured. These are all important measuring sticks to see if you are making progress. Don’t dwell on what you see now; instead, work to improve these things.”
If you are at the beginning of your fitness journey, don’t be discouraged if you see a number on the scale you didn’t want to see.
Everyone has been a beginner at some point in their life, and soon you can look back to see all the progress you have made.
Assessing Your Goals
Now that you have gotten the medical history and body composition recorded, you can now talk about what you want to achieve.
Goals are different for each individual, so the personal trainer is there to help you achieve whatever goal you have (within reason).
If you focus on losing weight, a personal trainer may adjust their focus on cardio exercises for you. If you are underweight and want to bulk up, the trainer will focus on lifting weights and eating high calories.
The personal trainer will also ask you how you plan to achieve these goals outside of your sessions.
Will you be training when you guys aren’t together? Answering this question will help set up a program for how often you will be working out.
Initial Physical Assessments
To test your current fitness levels, the personal trainer will do a few physical tests to see your current understanding of exercises.
When discussing this portion of the first personal training session, trainer Kevin Kennedy gave insights into what he does with first-time clients.
“I will put people through a series of exercises that are relatively simple but will tell me two things: where are their most pressing imbalances? (imbalances that will cause back pain, tripping, or shoulder issues). And what level of complication can they attempt without losing coordination?”
After seeing where the client is at, the personal trainer can adjust their program accordingly, so they aren’t overwhelmed. This portion of the session will be different for everyone. If you are an experienced gym-goer, you will have all of the basic movements down.
If you are beginning your fitness journey, getting the form correct on certain exercises can be challenging. With this knowledge, your first personal training session will go smoother and be more effective.
Once you have all the initial testing out of the way, you can now get started with your very first workout with your trainer. Your first workout will most likely be a lot of feeling out what you are capable of and understanding what intensity is best for you.
When speaking about this portion of the training session, Latisha Forster of Fusion Wellness Now said:
“An effective trainer will pay attention to movement patterns, strengths, weaknesses, tightness, and any movement limitations. There should be some functional movement analysis, and there may also be some sub-maximal cardio and strength assessment.”
In most cases, this first workout will be testing out a lot of different movements and exercise-types to see which is best for you. You most likely won’t be handling any heavy weights or doing intense workouts just yet.
Making Future Plans
As the first training session concludes, Latisha Forster says that the most important takeaways should be:
“The client should leave knowing the frequency in which they will meet per week, length of time for the workout, a basic outline of a workout plan, some exercises the client can do on her own, and a basic roadmap of a plan of action, and some insight on why certain exercises are chosen based on the client’s goals and needs based on the assessment.
“Ultimately, the client should walk away feeling empowered.”
Now that the personal trainer has seen what you are capable of, they can now make your optimal program. They should give you everything you need to get started on your fitness journey and be confident in the next session.
Your first personal training workout will be one that lets you get to know the style of the personal trainer and also allow them to understand your goals.
It should also be the beginning of a great relationship that will be encouraging and informative.
Once you get those initial nerves out of the way, you should be ready to take on your fitness goals with your trainer by your side.
If you didn’t hit it off with your trainer, that’s OK! Having rapport and a good connection is important, so don’t be afraid to try out a few different instructors until you find the right fit.
And before you go, check out some of these other must-read beginner guides:
- Your first day at the gym
- Your first yoga class
- Your first spin class
- Your first time lifting weights
Hope this helps!