The Ultimate Guide to Finding a Personal Trainer – Part II

As evident from the first part of this guide, finding a personal trainer in a saturated marketplace like New York City can be quite the challenge. With such a low barrier of entry for fitness professionals, trainers, and coaches, it’s more than likely that if you were to hire one, you wouldn’t know what exactly you’d be getting.

This is compounded by the fact that there are so many fitness options offered here in the city—or elsewhere in the country, really—from general gym memberships to trendy group fitness classes and of course, private personal training. I think we can all agree though that the last option here offers the highest level of service, but it’s important for fitness professionals who serve in that capacity to keep that bar high and do right by their clientele.

This is why we’re going through the 4 E’s of finding a personal trainer: expert, evidence-based, effective, and efficient. Just like how the first 2 E’s go hand in hand, the last 2 E’s also go hand in hand. Here’s how you know that a personal trainer is both effective and efficient.

The Last 2 E’s: How to Know if You’re Getting Results

How do you know if a personal trainer is both effective and efficient? Simply put, getting results is the hallmark of effectiveness; if you don’t reach your goals, it’s safe to say that whatever you did wasn’t effective.

Thus, when it comes to the methods and training approach of the personal trainer, is this exercise/strategy/protocol going to deliver the desired result in a set period of time, and can that result be measured?

The last part of that question is super-important. How can you prove definitive results without legitimate measurements? We are entering a new digital age when it comes to health & fitness, and we don’t have to look any further than wearables like the latest Apple Watch as proof of that. Things that we thought we couldn’t measure before can now be measured in some way. For example, if you don’t feel good one day and anticipate a bad training session because of it, you could use something like heart rate variability to confirm or gain insight into that sentiment.

I’m still all for the subjective benefits that fitness imparts, such as boosting your confidence, energy, and the like. I still think these subjective factors can be an absolute game-changer, but measurements shouldn’t be overlooked, and in fact they should confirm those factors in some way.

There is a saying out there that what gets measured, gets managed. This holds true for fitness results. Whether those numbers are your body fat percentage, resting metabolic rate, VO2max, anaerobic threshold, or assessment results, the more measurements we have, the better.

The majority of us want a lean body: to lose weight, lose fat, and build some level of tone or muscle. Wouldn’t it be incredibly useful to know how your body composition (fat and lean mass) changes over the course of a training program? This quantifies and confirms your results. It’s why we offer hydrostatic weighing here at Halevy Life, perhaps the most accurate method to determine body composition available to the general public.

The Ultimate Fitness TestFor your personal trainer, this means that you want to look for someone who will start you off with a comprehensive assessment that establishes a definitive baseline for you. The personal trainer should be able to tell you where you are currently, what you’re able or unable to do right now, and how you can get to where you want to be, using the measurements and outcomes of your assessment.

In our H-FIT assessment for example, we strive to measure everything that is relevant to fitness: factors such as one’s structural integrity, cardiopulmonary output, and movement capacity. It’s why we include our hydrostatic weighing and metabolic lab tests as well— this is an example of using numbers to establish a definitive baseline in its purest form.


The personal trainer you’re looking to hire may not have these extensive tools at his/her disposal. But s/he should definitely respect the importance of measurements to establish a baseline and show how you’re making progress and getting results.

Effectiveness and efficiency go hand in hand. Now that we’ve established how crucial measurements are to the effectiveness of a personal trainer, we can now go into the ways to determine a personal trainer’s efficiency.

Efficiency is the second part of the equation for getting results. Is the training prescribed by your personal trainer the optimal way to get the results you seek? And most importantly, is that approach tailored to work specifically for you?

While effectiveness is more of a science, the efficiency of training is more of an art form. This is where a personal trainer’s character, personality, and professionalism need to shine. There are no shortcuts in achieving any sort of goal—fitness goals included. Progress and results in fitness almost never occur linearly, but it’s on your trainer/coach to keep you on track, and if necessary, to help you understand why you still need to be following his/her training.

An efficient personal trainer will track your weights and your progress continuously, both within training sessions and outside of them. S/he will pay attention to your technique. And perhaps most importantly, s/he won’t waste your time during the session.

That last criteria doesn’t mean that you should hire someone who screams at you the entire time or that doesn’t allow you to take a break between sets. If you’re training something technical like the Olympic lifts or heavy powerlifting exercises, that’s the last sort of training you’d want. That criteria is more of a personal perspective on your part. Your trainer should make the most of your time together. Are you getting fit, and even having fun? An efficient personal trainer will provide you with that experience.

That being said, a trainer should walk into your session with your program planned, written down, and on hand. This ensures that the trainer has clarity and won’t waste time improvising to make up for not being prepared. It’s true that not all plans will work the way they’re intended to. Maybe you’ve had a bad day at work and you aren’t feeling particularly great about training today. But not planning at all is planning to fail. An efficient personal trainer should be ready for you regardless, but also ready to change things up if absolutely necessary.

Finally, an efficient and effective personal trainer should be checking in with you on a regular basis about your training and your fitness. This adds tremendous value to the coach-client relationship, and keeps you in touch with your progress and your fitness journey. You’re in the gym so that your life outside of the gym can be better, and you want a personal trainer who genuinely cares about making that part of your life better. They should be there for you when you need them.

The Final Word

How do you find a personal trainer in NYC or elsewhere? A personal trainer should be an expert, evidence-based, efficient, and effective. Hopefully this Ultimate Guide showed you what those traits really mean. Most importantly, I hope you found this guide useful in your quest to find a personal trainer who will help you fulfill your fitness journey!

by Jeremy Lau

Jeremy Lau is a Senior Staff Coach and Metabolic Lab Manager at Halevy Life.

Jeremy graduated cum laude from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute with a BSc. in Biomedical Engineering and received his Master’s in Exercise Physiology at Columbia University. In addition to his academic accolades, Jeremy is a Certified Strength & Conditioning Specialist (CSCS).

Prior to joining the team at Halevy Life, Jeremy completed a coaching internship at Cressey Sports Performance, where he coached both amateur and professional athletes, among whom were many professional MLB baseball players.

As an athlete, Jeremy has played baseball competitively for most of his life.