Collective Opinion/Advice of 600 Personal Trainers (2019 Survey Results)
Collective Opinion/Advice of 600 Personal Trainers (Official Survey Results) 1

Here at PT Pioneer, I pride myself on offering some of the best information, advice, and guidance you can get as a personal trainer. My 10 years in the game and extensive background allows me to give you a big-picture idea of what you’re getting into when it comes to being a PT.

Having said that, no matter how good and valuable what I give to you is, it’s just one man’s outlook. For you to really understand whats going on, I decided to conduct a nationwide survey of 600 personal trainers to obtain a collective opinion on a variety of personal training and fitness topics.

So I’m not just offering a second, third or even fourth opinion. no, I’m giving you a 600th opinion!

Based on the “Wisdom of the Crowd” theory, the collective opinion of a large sample of people is far more likely to get the best or most accurate answer. So the responses provided by 600 professional personal trainers should help us arrive at the best answers for a particular question related to personal training or fitness advice.

There are many takeaways provided within the results presented below that are not only valuable to personal trainers but to anyone who is interested in living a healthy and active lifestyle.

Be sure to check out my other study on what separates the most successful personal trainers from the rest, and if that doesn’t scratch your itch, leave a question in the comment section below and I’ll be sure to consider it for the next survey.


How we got our data

PTPioneer commissioned Pollfish to survey 600 personal trainers throughout the United States, for their opinions and experiences about a variety of personal trainer and fitness related topics.

PTPioneer designed and paid for the survey and welcomes the re-use of this data under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License 4.0, which permits unrestricted use, distribution and reproduction in any medium, as long as the original source is cited with attribution to “”

Without further ado, let’s delve into the minds of 600 personal trainers and hear what they have to say.

Client Motivation Dropping? Here’s why.

Your clients might not stay on the wagon for these reasons.

Collective Opinion/Advice of 600 Personal Trainers (Official Survey Results) 2

The most common reason clients fall off the training wagon, and I can attest based on experience, is because of time.

Sometimes this is a valid reason and life does tend to get in the way. Other times it’s just a cop-out due to a lack of motivation or an overbearing hesitation. In other cases, your client might have the time, but they just lack the ability to manage/prioritize it.

Whatever the case, be sure to expect this as the leading cause of any missed appointments or drop-offs.

“Exercising is too hard” also has a deterring quality to it. Not only does overtraining just make the whole exercise thing seem unnecessarily daunting but it’s also a potential health risk that could keep your client’s away even if they would love to jump into the next session. That can easily lead to the third point, where your client feels unwell (this is also a common fake excuse).

The fourth most common reason for client drop-off is the I’m-not-good-at-this reason. You must remember that fitness for a lot of people, is about looking good, and sometimes that also translates as looking good at it.

The last most common reason is your clients are dealing with a case of the DOMS (delayed onset muscle soreness). In that case, you can look into implementing some active rest to keep them going. Also, try to make sure they aren’t actually injured!

Hopefully being aware of these excuses can help you preemptively address these concerns with your clients to avoid these instances of absence.

This will not only be beneficial to you as a trainer but will greatly benefit your client, who needs to overcome these mental/logistical/physical hurdles in order to achieve their fitness goals.

The 4 Most Popular Ways To Workout

Fitness client’s go-to methods of engagement

Collective Opinion/Advice of 600 Personal Trainers (Official Survey Results) 3

One on one sessions is your bread and butter as a PT. After all, you are a PERSONAL trainer. Suffice to say, this is the preferred method of engagement for fitness clients who want that extra support. Its an intimate and focused way to get effective results without the scrutiny of others.

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Group training comes up second. For many, working out is just a simple matter of being given basic instructions and going with them, an easy enough thing to achieve in a group class setting.

Fitness is very commonly used as a platform for social engagement whether that’s for expanding one’s friendship circle, dating options or professional networks, the group class is a watering hole of social interaction.

Third, on the list, you have your fit couples. Bless these guys, because doing grueling, yet rewarding activities like training hard together, is one of the best ways to improve the quality of a romantic relationship! Take care of these clients well.

The fourth, but also the fastest-growing method of engagement by fitness clients and consumers is through online coaching. Be ready with a good online system in order to take advantage of this market segment. Per our study on the most successful personal trainers, the highest-earning trainers come with an online component to their services!

The 5 Golden Fitness Goals

Which fitness goals you will most likely come across and exploit?

Collective Opinion/Advice of 600 Personal Trainers (Official Survey Results) 4

Not coming as any sort of surprise, the most common fitness goal is weight loss. The average person isn’t too concerned with achieving max performance, their most immediate concern is sitting right in front of them in the form of a bulging belly.

I hope you have nutrition in your bag of tricks for this one because that’s where you are really going to need to push in order to get real results.

Some people don’t care about the looks so much as they do about just being healthy. They may be aware that their current state is not doing their quality of life any favors, or it could be that they just want to turn things up a notch and experience a new level of wellness. Expect many clients in it for mental health reasons too. Exercise is a great way to uplift one’s spirits and self-image.

The pursuit of health might also mean injury rehab or correction of functional deviations and imbalances. Get clued up on corrective exercise for this one.

Losing weight is a step towards aesthetic actualization, my fancy way of saying “looking sexy”. Once the fat has rolled off, clients typically want to enhance their muscle tone. This is where body sculpting and hypertrophy training knowledge comes in handy. nutrition will also play a pivotal role.

Many people go through certain events or phases in their life which place a specific demand on them. That demand may be related to body composition. A physique athlete prepping for the stage, a young lady getting ready to walk down the aisle, a fighter cutting to make weight for his next brawl. All these event-specific weight loss goals form a huge component of the most common goals you will encounter as a trainer.

Lastly, we have those amongst us who just want to take it all to the next level. These clients are probably relatively fit in most cases and are just looking for a boost in their human superpowers. Pro and amateur athletes make up a large segment of this group. It isn’t uncommon for strength to be the goal of those seeking corrective exercise as rehab post-injury or to fix imbalances.

The Weight Loss Plateau Problem

Why clients get stuck in a rut

Collective Opinion/Advice of 600 Personal Trainers (Official Survey Results) 5

At some point, most people hit a plateau in their training. When you start to exercise, it’s often easy to make leaps and bounds in your adaptation towards training stimuli. That’s because everything is so new and your body is immediately triggered into action.

With time, your clients will find results harder and harder to come by. That’s because as the intensity of stimuli decreases, so too does the response your body experiences.

We asked these 600 trainers the reasons their clients hit a weight loss plateau to obtain the most common culprits so they can be properly addressed.

Some causes of plateauing such as the settling of the metabolic set point, lack of dedication and nutrition, can be countered by making changes to your client’s plan. Others such as those related to age and genetics are unavoidable realities but can be worked around with a mindful approach.

Weight Loss Plateau Triumph

How to get clients out of a weight-loss slump

Collective Opinion/Advice of 600 Personal Trainers (Official Survey Results) 6

We then asked the trainers the most effective methods they employ to help their clients overcome their plateau so as to come to a definitive conclusion on what works best.

On the topic of plateaus, when it comes to weight loss, your most common way of overcoming them is by mixing things up.

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At the end of the day, it’s all about adaptation, and if you are giving your clients the same stimuli over and over again, stagnation will occur. Switch things up by challenging different muscle groups.

The second most popular way trainers get their peeps over a weight-loss slump is by upping the ante. This is a well-understood protocol of personal training. progression occurs with an increase in volume and intensity.

The third thing is introducing strength training. Weight loss happens as a result of having a negative energy balance. In order to achieve that from a training perspective, you need to jolt the metabolism by stressing it with a healthy dose of resistance training.

Last in the weight loss bag of tricks is nutrition tracking. Have your clients keep a food journal so that you constantly know where they are with their food habits, allowing you to jump in and take control when necessary.

And The Nutrition Award Goes To…

It’s what you put in as much as how you work out

Collective Opinion/Advice of 600 Personal Trainers (Official Survey Results) 7

Nutrition is the most important aspect of any health and fitness program. At the end of the day, it’s more about what you put in than how you work out.

So we asked the 600 personal trainers for the diets that they most support in order to determine which are the best / most effective diets per the collective opinion of fitness professionals.

With clients all over the world, the keto diet is taking over. This nutritional method has the highest value when it comes to burning body fat, and burning fat is, after all, the most popular fitness goal. 😉

The vegan diet is pretty popular too. We all know the ethical bonuses that come with going green, but there are some major health benefits too and trainers are learning to exploit these for healthy and significant client results.

Low carb, high-fat diets such as Atkins and Banting come up third. They follow a similar metabolic pathway as keto, although not as absolute (ketosis completely changes the way your body handles incoming energy). I’ll call these baby keto.

With that said, there comes the vegetarian diet, and in the name of consistency, I’ll call this baby-vegan.

Last is the weight watchers diet. It’s pretty effective when done right, the trick is doing it right!

There’s An App For That

When fitness and tech collide.

Collective Opinion/Advice of 600 Personal Trainers (Official Survey Results) 8

We wanted to know what types of tools personal trainers recommend in order to see if there is anything that is unanimously worth using or recommending to help your clients reach your fitness goals.

To approach this, we first asked in general, what categories of tools personal trainers recommend.

In this so-called digital age, there is now an app for everything. Your clients now have ready access to electronic interfaces that enhance their fitness journey and outcomes.

Apps that help track fitness and nutrition goals such as Under Armour’s “My Fitness Pal” are the highest recommended forms of training software by trainers.

Video workout programs offer quick and reliable reference to clients, friends, and family and come in second place.

We then asked, within the most recommended categories, which specific App or video program do you recommend. Below are the most highly recommended amongst the 600 personal trainers that we surveyed.

The Most Happening Apps

Fitness apps ranked!

Collective Opinion/Advice of 600 Personal Trainers (Official Survey Results) 9

Of the numerous mobile apps out there, only a few really stuck out with trainers well enough that the would recommend them to their families.

Here are 9 of the best!

Most Popular Workout Routines

The hype of video programs

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Video programs were first introduced to our lives through aerobics sessions before the morning news. Today we have so many great workout program videos that have evolved into full-on instructable classes as well as skills you can gain qualifications in teaching.

These are the top 3 from our sample of trainers.

The Reward of Fitness

The true and lasting benefits.

Collective Opinion/Advice of 600 Personal Trainers (Official Survey Results) 11

We then asked personal trainers for their personal opinion on the top benefits of regular exercise to get the perspective of the professionals who live, eat, and breathe fitness.

As the training rolls on, your clients will begin to truly experience what it means to achieve health and fitness.

In the beginning, most of your clients’ goals are outcome orientated. losing weight, looking good and getting strong.

But health and fitness are really about just that, health and fitness. And the true benefits of a good fitness program speak volumes of this sentiment based on the experience of the trainers in this survey.

Wholesome outcomes such as improved sense of wellness, healthy and sustainable weight loss, a boost in confidence, improved immunity and resistance to injury go way deeper than any superficial goals or objectives.

Always keep your eye on achieving real valuable results!

Real-Life vs. Online

Always best face to face

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While on the topic of wholesome outcomes, its fair to note how personal trainers view in-person training as a more valuable experience for their clients than online training.

Let us ignore the fact that online training can net you a lot of money and just focus on the client value aspect.

You don’t need to be a brain surgeon to know that dealing with individuals head-on will offer them more value and provide you as a trainer with more substantial data than providing your services strictly through an electronic interface.

Don’t get me wrong, I think in this day and age, it is essential to have an online component to your PT business.

Great value can be provided through online training and there are a variety of advantages in doing so for both you and the client, such as scheduling/geographical convenience as well as cost.

But what these 600 trainers are saying is that nothing replaces the value that is provided by being right there with your client. There are just certain barriers to online personal training that cause it to fall short in what can be provided in comparison to in-person personal training.

Presented above are the top reasons personal trainers believe in-person personal training is superior to the online alternative.

The Takeaway

What we’ve learned

I hope the result of this survey of 600 practicing personal trainers provided some valuable insight into many topics and questions that I believe are best answered through the collective opinion/experience of a large group of experts in the field versus the opinion of just one.

Please feel free to reference the results of this study and don’t hesitate to reach out through the comment box below or email me at [email protected] for any requests of additional insight or suggestions for the next survey.

Tyler Read

Tyler Read, BSc, CPT. Tyler holds a B.S. in Kinesiology from Sonoma State University and is a certified personal trainer (CPT) with NASM (National Academy of sports medicine), and has over 15 years of experience working as a personal trainer. He is a published author of running start, and a frequent contributing author on Healthline and Eat this, not that.

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