Choosing a Personal Trainer: Does Gender Matter?

Choosing a Personal Trainer - does gender matter?Doctors, masseurs, and hairstylists all have intimate access to our bodies (and emotions) as they handle us professionally. A personal trainer is one more person in our toolbox to help keep us healthy and happy, so it is vital to know what we value in that relationship before we make a choice.

So this brings forth the question, is there any advantage or disadvantage in choosing a male trainer over a female trainer and vice versa? When I was pregnant, I didn’t have a preference when it came time to choosing an ObGyn. My husband couldn’t understand my indifference with regard to the physician who would be handing intimate matters below the waist, but for me, the issue had less to do with gender and more to do with experience. I really didn’t care who was in the lab coat, as long as they knew what they were doing on the day I delivered.


Just like in any other profession, when choosing someone to assist you in reaching a goal, experience goes a long way. Do you want a trainer who has handled a variety of clients (men and women of all ages and abilities), or do you prefer someone who specializes in one particular area (postpartum women)? If you are returning to exercise after delivery, you may prefer a female trainer who has firsthand knowledge of childbirth and postpartum exercise based on her own experience of reclaiming her pre-baby body.


What type of credentials do you want your trainer to have? Do you desire someone who is certified in both weight training, as well as fitness classes? Sometimes the more versatile their credentials, the more creative they will be during your hour together, incorporating various techniques and ideas. 


What is his bedside manner like? Do you want someone who has a militant approach to training, serious and less refined, or do you work better with someone who will speak softly to help diffuse the pain? Personally, I like an instructor who is going to show little mercy for my whining and hesitation, so I can get the most out of my workouts. 


Most people will agree that women are superior to male counterparts when it comes to communication, but can your female trainer articulate the logistics of exercises to you? She may be a wonderful storyteller you enjoy sharing time with, but can she explicitly communicate what she is trying to teach you with weights?


Some women, like my friend, Lisa, find other women to be petty and catty. She purposely seeks male trainers and training partners to limit what she views as a problem of gossip and competitiveness among the female ranks. She generally feels that men are competitive in different ways, therefore, pushing her to achieve more from her workout while trying to keep up with the guys.

Personal Trainers are in Personal Space

Some women are just more comfortable working with other women. Given the nature of the business, your personal trainer will be just that–personal. She will be working in close proximity with you, as well as touching you when spotting you on various exercises. 

Consider the Relationship with Your Personal Trainer over the Long Term

Trainers and clients tend to develop close, personal relationships, a natural progression over several weeks and months spent meeting together regularly. Be sure to consider the longevity of a relationship with your trainer. You will want to enlist someone who is going to be committed to your goals, as well as someone with whom you can develop a positive, ongoing rapport. Switching trainers at the same gym is just as awkward as firing your hairdresser for different stylist in the same salon.

Is there an advantage in choosing a female trainer over a male trainer? Do you think women generally embody more of the qualities you look for in a personal trainer, or do you typically mesh better with men? Are you indifferent? We would love to hear from you.