How Should A Personal Trainer Look?

I know of a PT who is over-weight. By over-weight, I don’t mean slightly chubby or carrying a few extra pounds. No, this person is plus-sized. She is a popular PT, and has a solid client base and seems to be respected in the industry. Many people feel that she does not fit the mould of what a PT should look like, and have said she is the last person they would even consider hiring to help them achieve their fitness goals. My friend Desiree said, “when I look to a hair stylist, I don’t go to a frumpy person with a bad roots, scraggly ends and who puts no effort into their appearance, so why would I get fitness tips from someone who is over weight?”  My husband feels the same way as Desiree. He feels a PT should look the part, complete with six-pack abs, muscles, and little fat on their frames. After all, he debates, they are representatives of the fitness industry, so shouldn’t they look that way? When I say debate, it is because we have had “heated discussions” about this issue, as I’m on the fence about it. Sure, I admire someone who obviously works hard to look physically fit, but I feel someone who is over-weight can indeed be a good PT. If said PT trains their client effectively, is certified, is dedicated, and has the tools to educate and help the client reach their goals successfully, should it matter if the PT is plus-sized? In the large scheme of things, it is the client who will be doing the physical work in the gym and will be sweating, huffing and puffing. However, if Jillian Michaels had a muffin top, saddlebags and a Buddha belly, would she be making millions on fitness apps, magazine interviews, DVDs and books? This was still hubby’s argument. “Well,” I asked my husband, “consider this. What about a trainer who looks like Jillian Michaels, but smokes like a chimney? Would you consider such a person to be representatives of the fitness industry?” Ha! I got him. No, he replied, “they should live by example. Smoking is a disgusting habit.”

Andy’s and Desiree’s idea of what a personal trainer should look like:



So to sum it up, a PT who is not keeping abreast in fitness trends, education and training or someone who is lackadaisical in helping the clients to achieve their goals, does not make a good trainer in my books, may he/she over-weight, average, muscled-up or somewhere in between. Ultimately though, it is up to the client.  The person who will be spending those dolla’ bills to get in shape and improve their health by turning to the expertise of a professional will have the final say as to their perception of what a personal trainer should be.  If a PT is over-weight, but is getting me to the level of fitness where I want to be, I don’t think size would matter if I was happy with my results.


How do you think a PT should look? Or does it matter?  Would you hire a heavy or over-weight person to help you obtain your fitness goals?

Photo source(s):

Jillian Michaels:
Ninette Cruz-Longsworth:
Plus-sized personal trainer:


17 thoughts on “How Should A Personal Trainer Look?

  1. You raise a very excellent point . For me, as long as I was getting the results I wanted I wouldn’t mind the pt ‘s size but I can totally understand why people would choose a different person .

    1. Hi. Yes and can understand too for sure why most would go to the Jillian Micheals. I also think people assume that packaging is everything, when sometimes (not often) but sometimes it is not.

    1. And I think you would have to give the over-weight trainer a chance first, to see if h/she had what it took to get you those results. Most people are visual and would want the trainer who looks fit as their ideal. It’s an interesting topic.

  2. My opinion: A PT doesn’t HAVE to be in shape, but they are probably hurting their chances of getting more clients if they appear to be really out of shape. I mean if they can get you in shape yes that’s the main purpose, but I think most people are going to write him/her off right away. If they can’t get themselves in shape how can they get me in shape? Of course you never know where someone started either. Perhaps this person is 50 lbs overweight but used to be 300 lbs overweight, you don’t know. Bottom line they don’t have to be in shape, but they make it tougher on themselves if they aren’t. I know personally, even though I’ve never had a trainer, when I’ve looked around at trainers the ones I always said I would want are the upbeat ones you see working their ass off in the gym. I think the big thing for me though, is I think a trainer should be very passionate about health and fitness, and you have to wonder how passionate someone is about it if they are overweight and not at the very least working on it hard.

    1. So interesting. This trainer seems passionate, but she is clearly over weight so it’s natural to question her passion. She must be losing potential clients, because realistically most of us are visual. When we see those trainers who look like they really work it, it is only natural to assume we would get the same results from them as trainers. Exactly your point, it is true that although plus-sized, she is on a journey too, as she did lose weight and maybe clients in her shoes could relate to her struggles. I’m really on the fence still…

      1. I hear yeah. Perhaps that’s just what some people need. Some people need someone who have been through the same struggles. I’ve even been told myself I couldn’t say anything or give advice because I’ve never had overweight issues before so I don’t know what it’s like. Maybe there is some truth to that, although that doesn’t take away from having the knowledge of what someone should do, it could make it hard to sympathize or know the emotional part as well.

        I guess this situation isn’t a whole lot different than many though. Would you want someone totally broke in charge of your finances? Would you want someone who is an emotional wreck to be your therapist? If you aren’t playing the part, you are certainly putting yourself at a huge disadvantage. Not say the person you are referring to is or isn’t, but you get my point I think.

      2. Or should I say “Even a blind squirrel finds a nut?” 😉 Personally, I don’t think a trainer needs to be ripped or anything, but I think they should at least be in a healthy weight range, or on their way there.

  3. Wow, that’s an interesting thing to think about. I really haven’t seen any Personal Trainers who are majorly out of shape though. I think if they are knowledgeable and can help someone reach their goals, then it shouldn’t matter what size they are. However, I think it’s definitely more motivating to clients if the PT is in shape. I also think a PT should care enough about their own health to try to be in at least decent shape. I feel the same way about doctors too.

    1. How can we forget those chain smoking doctors?? To look at this trainer, she does not look like the typical trainer. She must lose business from those who think like my friend and husband, although I think she’s passionate about fitness. My friend insists that her workouts don’t matter, because she must be eating crap. It really is intriguing to me.

  4. I feel terribly superficial saying this, especially as someone that was once obese, but I would have a hard time hiring a PT that was overweight. It’s one thing to have a little bit of chub – genetics do play a huge part in physical appearance – but a trainer that is very noticeably overweight does not practice what they preach. Which, to me, would mean that they either don’t believe in their own advice or do not have the will power to follow it. And, hell, if they can’t do it – how can I? I would have the same issue taking health advice from a doctor that smokes, taking book recommendations from someone that’s illiterate, or taking alcohol recommendations from a seven year old.

    1. Hi Victoria Elizabeth. Thanks for your comment. You sound just like my friend and husband, and really what you comment makes sense. Most people would hire someone who walks the walk and talks the talk. The thing with this trainer is she is quite passionate about fitness, but by just looking at her, or as a person who is shopping for a PT, they would just over look her due to her size. Can’t wait to check out your blog further.

  5. There are a ton of super in-shape people who really have no idea how to coach others or help them achieve their goals safely. Plus everyone has a different definitely of beauty and what being “in-shape” means. Fitness is about more than being “skinny.” It is also about having the strength to do what you want to do.

    I don’t think a trainer needs to look a certain way…That being said though, I do believe in practicing what we preach….So as long as a person isn’t hypocritical, I don’t care what they look like only that they give their clients the best and have the knowledge to do a good job!

    Very interesting post.

    1. Thank-you. I completely agree. That’s another point I thought of later. There are those trainers who have done an incredible job of transforming their own bodies, but they lack the passion and drive to help others and cannot transfer this passion to others. Not everyone has this gift. I think a good trainer is also a caring trainer. This plus-sized trainer is great in this aspect, but again, most like to see results, so may not consider her services.

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