9 Best Gyms With Trainers (And, How Not To Get Ripped Off)

9 best gyms with trainers and how not to get ripped off

Most gyms have personal trainers that are available to book for one-to-one or group sessions. Some gyms might even offer a few free personal training sessions when signing up.

However, the quality and ongoing cost of personal trainers vary from gym to gym.

We’ve spent over 45 hours researching every major franchise gym to determine which ones offer the best personal training services.

The nine best gyms with personal trainers are: 

  • 24 Hour Fitness  
  • Equinox 
  • YMCA 
  • Gold’s Gym 
  • World Gym 
  • Life Time Fitness 
  • Anytime Fitness 
  • Crunch Fitness 
  • Workout Anytime 

In this article, I’ll explain the benefits of each gym and what makes their personal trainers stand out. I’ll also cover the training requirements and qualifications that personal trainers need to work in a gym and how they get compensated as well as the key benefits of having personal training sessions.

Trainer Qualifications Will Vary From Gym to Gym   

trainer qualifications will vary from gym to gym

Many gyms have personal trainers with advanced qualifications. But in general, most big box gyms only require their personal trainers to possess the bare minimum qualifications. Usually, this is nothing more than a personal training certification that one can obtain within a few months.

It’s also important to note that just because two different personal trainers work in the same gym, it doesn’t necessarily mean that they have equal qualifications. One trainer may have just one personal training certification while the other may have an advanced college degree and years of experience under their belt. 

Different personal trainers also have different levels of knowledge and areas of expertise. 

For example, one trainer may have gained their qualification by completing a weekend personal training course. Another personal trainer may have completed a Bachelor’s degree, or they may be a certified exercise physiologist or strength and conditioning coach. 

Of course, just because somebody has more qualifications, it doesn’t always mean that they will be a better personal trainer. There are additional interpersonal skills that are required to succeed as a personal trainer, and most of these skills cannot be taught through courses and certifications. 

But in our opinion, trainers who possess greater levels of education are more likely to understand how the body will respond to training, and how to personalize a training program to fit your needs.

Before you hire a personal trainer, it’s always a good idea to ask him or her about their prior knowledge and experience as well as their qualifications. 

Understanding How Trainers Get Compensated  

Knowing how personal trainers at big box gyms make their money is important so you not only understand where your money goes but can also be prepared to respond to common sales tactics a trainer may use on you.

Here are some key things to keep in mind:

  • Higher rates don’t always mean better quality training 
  • Trainers will often try to push for group training 
  • Trainers will often get you to sign up for 3-month packages 

Higher Rates Don’t Always Mean Better Quality Training 

Although highly skilled personal trainers tend to charge premium prices, higher rates don’t always equate to better training sessions. 

Just because you’re paying high prices, it doesn’t mean you’re always going to get the best personal trainer in the gym. Most trainers set their own prices, so there is no ‘standard’ level of skill that is required to charge a particular hourly rate. 

When you’re considering signing up with a personal trainer, ask them for more information so you can see the results that their previous clients have achieved. It’s also important to ask them for their credentials and other work experience to determine their knowledge and skill level so you can decide if their prices are justified.

Trainers Will Often Try To Push For Group Training 

Personal trainers are known for pushing their clients to sign up for group training sessions to increase their hourly rate. 

Group personal training sessions might be a great idea for you if you like working out with others. If you sign up with a group of friends, it could also be cheaper if you work out together with the same trainer. But this isn’t always the case. 

If you prefer solo workouts or you feel like you’d get more out of one-on-one sessions with a trainer, don’t feel pressured to sign up for group personal training sessions. Your trainer may keep pushing them onto you so they can make more money per hour, but go with what feels best for you. 

Trainers Will Often Get You To Sign Up For 3-Month Packages 

It’s common for personal trainers to encourage you to sign up for 3-month packages so that they can make more money. 

While it can vary by gym and each individual trainer, most trainers offer three packages, including 12, 24, and 36 sessions (1-month, 2-month, and 3-month packages, respectively). They will try to persuade you into purchasing the largest personal training package available so that they are guaranteed to get money from you for the next 3 months. 

If you sign up for a 3-month package before having your first session, you might end up wasting your time and money. You may not enjoy the sessions and you might not get along with the personal trainer. But if you’ve already paid for 36 sessions, you’re in a catch 22 situation. 

Always sign up for the lowest package possible until you are certain that you’re going to continue working out with a particular personal trainer. Some gyms offer free personal training trial passes as well so you can try before you buy. Be sure to ask your club to see if this is something that they provide. 

Lessons Learned From Hiring A Personal Trainer  

After having personal training sessions in the past and now becoming a qualified trainer and coach myself, I’ve noticed some key things that I think everybody needs to know before hiring a personal trainer. 

Here are some important lessons that I’ve learned from hiring a personal trainer: 

  • Start on the lowest session package to begin with 
  • Find a trainer who explains the ‘why’ behind what you’re doing 
  • Learn as much as you can during your personal training sessions 

Start On The Lowest Session Package To Begin With 

Before signing up for several weeks of personal training sessions, start with the smallest available package so you can try them out before committing a lot of time and money to multiple sessions. 

By trying a small number of sessions, you’ll be able to determine whether or not you like the trainer and if you enjoy their style of training. It also gives you the chance to see if you like using that particular gym and feel comfortable working out there. 

After a few sessions with the personal trainer, you can see whether or not you’re making progress. You likely won’t see dramatic results after just a few weeks, but you’ll be able to assess if you’re enjoying the sessions and feel like the trainer can help get you to where you want to be. You can then extend or renew your package if you want to stick with that trainer.

Find A Trainer Who Explains The ‘Why’ Behind What You’re Doing 

It’s important to find a personal trainer who doesn’t just run through a bunch of exercises. Find someone who explains why you’re doing each exercise and its benefits. 

Personal training sessions are a form of education. Your trainer isn’t only there to make you sweat in the gym. You are paying for him or her to teach you new methods and techniques and show you how to exercise properly and safely. 

A good trainer should also be able to explain how different exercises can help you reach your own individual goals, which allows you to see the big picture behind your training routine.

Learn As Much As You Can During Your Personal Training Sessions 

Linking to the point above, try to learn as much as possible during your time with a trainer. Don’t be afraid to ask questions and delve into each exercise in more detail. Your trainer is there to answer your queries and teach you things that you can’t find online. 

Whatever you do, make sure to get as much as you can from every personal training session that you pay for. After working with a personal trainer for several months, you should feel empowered to work out on your own and create your own routine that can help you reach your goals.

Best Gyms With Personal Trainers: 9 Options  

1. 24 Hour Fitness

24 Hour Fitness personal training

24 Hour Fitness offers personal training to all of its members for a minimum of $85/hour. Prices vary based on location. Monthly packages are available for four fifty-minute sessions. You can have just one package or you can auto-renew each month. 

24 Hour Fitness also has the PT Lifestyle subscription, where you can schedule a number of personal training sessions each month. Virtual coaching is also available over Zoom if you can’t get to the gym or would prefer to work out at home. 

The personal trainers at 24 Hour Fitness don’t need a college degree in a subject like exercise science or kinesiology. However, they are required to have certifications from accredited institutions, such as the American Council on Exercise (ACE) or the National Academy of Sports Medicine (NASM), and they must have at least one year of training experience. 

What is the Cost of Personal Training at 24 Hour Fitness? 

At 24 Hour Fitness, you can expect to pay anywhere between $85/hour to $97.50/hour, depending on which personal training package you’ve chosen and which club you attend. 

There is a free 3-day trial pass available that enables you to try out the personal training free of charge before choosing whether or not to sign up for a monthly package. 

There is also a Satisfaction Guarantee with any personal training package at 24 Hour Fitness, so you can get all of your money back if you’re not happy with your trainer. 

Who is Personal Training at 24 Hour Fitness Good For? 

Since the personal trainers at 24 Hour Fitness need to have prior experience, they are ideal for those of you who are serious about learning how to exercise properly. 

Personal training at 24 Hour Fitness is also ideal if you’re training for a specific goal such as fat loss, as the trainers will be able to provide more specialized training programs to meet your needs. 

The 3-day trial pass or single monthly personal training packages are ideal for beginners to test out the gym before fully signing up. 

The virtual coaching is great for those of you who can’t easily get to the gym, have a busy schedule, or prefer to exercise in the comfort of your own home.  

Learn more about personal training at 24 Hour Fitness and everything else it has available in my full 24 Hour Fitness review.

2. Equinox 

Equinox is one of the pricier options when it comes to the best gyms with trainers. However, if you can afford it, the personal trainers at the Equinox clubs have a great reputation for being knowledgeable, professional, and considerate. 

Equinox has its own personal training institute called the Equinox Fitness Training Institute (EFTI). It ranks the personal trainers according to five different tiers that are based on how much education each trainer has completed. Many Equinox trainers also have nutrition certifications through Precision Nutrition.

The highest tier of Equinox personal training is called Tier X. It requires the trainers to have completed at least 270 hours of education at EFTI and possess a degree in kinesiology or exercise science. 

Tier X personal training is quite expensive and requires the trainers to perform a full assessment, which includes a health questionnaire and measurements of your vitals (blood pressure, heart rate, VO2 output, and body fat percentage). However, working with personal trainers at the lower tiers offers more of a traditional one-on-one training experience without such an invasive health screening.

What is the Cost of Personal Training at Equinox?  

Personal training at Equinox usually starts at $100/hour and may cost up to $150/hour. Cost is dependent upon which club you’re at. Trainers in higher EFTI tiers generally cost more. 

If you sign up for the Tier X program, you will be charged around $2,000 for a three-month package. Most trainers ask that you commit to at least three personal training sessions per week. 

Who is Personal Training at Equinox Good For?  

If you are happy paying a premium price for your personal training sessions and you have a specific goal in mind such as improving your body composition, Equinox might be a great choice for you. 

The personal trainers at Equinox clubs will help you work towards a unique goal while educating you along the way. They can also help you with your nutrition as well as your training, which can help you to reach your goals more quickly. 

If you are keen on learning how to train effectively and want a well-rounded coaching experience, Equinox is a great choice. 

Learn more about personal training at Equinox and everything else it has available in my full Equinox review.

3. YMCA 

YMCA personal trainer

YMCA has friendly personal trainers that welcome people of all ages. They don’t push you to sign up for large packages and are happy to train you for a limited number of sessions. 

YMCA personal trainers must stay up-to-date with their first aid and CPR training. It’s preferred that they have a college degree, but it doesn’t necessarily need to be an exercise-related degree. 

What is the Cost of Personal Training at YMCA?   

YMCA personal training varies significantly from club to club. You can expect to pay anywhere from $86/hour to $270/hour, depending on how long your session is and how many sessions you’ve signed up for. 

Some clubs offer a package of four 60-minute sessions for $260, which is a very affordable option compared to the price of a one-off session. 

Who is Personal Training at YMCA Good For?   

The YMCA personal training sessions are ideal for those of you who are new to working out and want some additional guidance on how to get started. 

I’d only recommend signing up for personal training at the YMCA if you have no prior gym experience and you can afford to spend a lot on hiring a trainer. Otherwise, you’re probably better off saving your money and following along with some online workout videos. 

Learn more about personal training at the YMCA and everything else it has available in my full YMCA review.

4. Gold’s Gym 

Gold's Gym personal trainer

Gold’s Gym is a great option if you’re unfamiliar with the gym and you’re new to working out. The personal trainers are required to have certifications that are accredited through the National Commission for Certifying Agencies (NCCA), such as ACE or NASM. 

The personal trainers at Gold’s Gym will be able to coach you towards your goals while showing you how to properly perform a variety of gym-based exercises. They have a great reputation and are recommended for complete beginners to the gym. 

What is the Cost of Personal Training at Gold’s Gym? 

Personal training at Gold’s Gym costs anywhere from $60 to $100 depending on your trainer’s experience and the location of the club. 

Some clubs might offer discounts for packages of several training sessions. Make sure to ask your local club to see what offers they have available for their personal training sessions. 

Who is Personal Training at Gold’s Gym Good For?   

Gold’s Gym personal training is best for those of you who are complete beginners to the gym and have no idea what exercises to do. 

Whether you’re looking to lose weight or gain muscle and strength, the personal trainers at Gold’s Gym will be able to coach you towards your health goals. They can also show you new and exciting exercises to switch up your usual gym routine. 

Learn more about personal training at Gold’s Gym and everything else it has available in my full Gold’s Gym review.

5. World Gym 

World Gym personal trainer

World Gym has high-quality personal training services. Most of the personal trainers have advanced, specialized qualifications, so they are a great option if you have a specific health and fitness goal such as wanting to learn powerlifting or improve your performance in another sport.

The World Gym personal trainers are required to have certifications from the National Strength and Conditioning Association (NSCA) or the American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM) as well as a minimum of two years of professional personal training experience. 

What is the Cost of Personal Training at World Gym? 

World Gym offers a free initial consultation of 30 or 60 minutes when you first sign up with a personal trainer. After this point, you will usually pay between $250 to $600 for a package of multiple personal training sessions, though prices vary by location. Some clubs also offer a pay-per-month option. 

Who is Personal Training at World Gym Good For? 

If you have a specific set of goals and want to be trained by a professional who has lots of prior experience training clients with the same goals, World Gym is a great option. Their specialized personal trainers all have advanced qualifications and years of real-life experience training clients.

Whether you’re new to the gym or have been working out for years, the trainers at World Gym can teach you something new and help you get even stronger.

Learn more about personal training at World Gym and everything else it has available in my full World Gym review.

6. Life Time Fitness 

Life Time Fitness clubs are large and potentially intimidating for beginners, but the personal trainers are known for being friendly and helpful to all members. They’re happy to assist you during a workout and show you how to use a certain machine. 

The personal trainers are required to have qualifications from accredited institutions, such as ACE and NASM. Life Time Fitness prefers that their trainers have college degrees in related subject areas, but it’s not required.

What is the Cost of Personal Training at Life Time Fitness? 

Personal training sessions at Life Time Fitness usually begin at around $55/hour and may be as high as $110/hour depending on location. 

Life Time Fitness clubs also offer something known as the Personal Training Experience, which costs $99 and involves a one-hour onboarding session and two one-hour training sessions. 

Who is Personal Training at Life Time Fitness Good For?   

If you can afford the slightly higher price of the Life Time Fitness personal trainers, they’re a great option if you’re new to the gym and need assistance with your workouts. However, because they’re not necessarily any more qualified than trainers at other gyms, more advanced gym-goers may not get much value out of them.

With that said, for beginners, the personal trainers will be able to create a customized workout program to help you get stronger or reach a weight loss goal. 

Learn more about personal training at Life Time Fitness and everything else it has available in my full Life Time Fitness review.

7. Anytime Fitness 

Anytime Fitness personal trainer

The personal trainers in some Anytime Fitness clubs don’t all have the best reputation, but the quality of the trainers will vary depending on your location. 

To work at Anytime Fitness, trainers must have qualifications from accredited institutions. Some clubs also require their trainers to have additional qualifications, such as a degree in an exercise-related subject or a nutrition certification.

What is the Cost of Personal Training at Anytime Fitness? 

Personal trainers at Anytime Fitness will cost anywhere from $35 to $75 an hour, depending on location. Most sessions are 60 minutes long, but some clubs also offer the option of 30-minute sessions, priced around $25 to $35 each. 

Some Anytime Fitness personal trainers also offer multi-session packages (usually packages of 5, 10, or 20 sessions) that may work out at a cheaper cost per session. 

When your first sign up for an Anytime Fitness membership, you will be offered a free personal training consultation. 

During this consultation, a trainer will show you around the gym and give some basic advice on how to use certain machines. They can also give you a 30-day workout plan to try out if you think this would help you get started on your fitness journey. 

Who is Personal Training at Anytime Fitness Good For?   

Anytime Fitness personal training is suitable for those who are new to the gym or need guidance with switching up your workout routine and trying something new. 

If you’re a complete beginner, the trainers will provide a workout program that you can follow to reach your health and fitness goals. They will also check in with you each week and provide you with the motivation to keep going. 

Learn more about personal training at Anytime Fitness and everything else it has available in my full Anytime Fitness review.

8. Crunch Fitness 

Crunch Fitness personal trainer

Generally, Crunch Fitness personal trainers are knowledgeable and friendly. They are all required to have a certification from one of the accredited institutions (like ACE or NASM), and many trainers also have a degree in exercise science or kinesiology. 

However, Crunch Fitness personal trainers are known for pushing gym members to commit to packages of multiple training sessions. 

These packages may secure you into a 6- or 12-month commitment, so it’s important that you only sign up if you are certain that you’ll need a coach for an extended period of time. 

I’d recommend first trying out one or two personal training sessions to make sure you enjoy the gym and the trainer before you commit to any sort of long-term package.  

What is the Cost of Personal Training at Crunch Fitness? 

The cost of Crunch Fitness personal training can range from $40 to $100/hour, depending on location. Buying packages of multiple sessions usually works out cheaper. 

Most clubs offer a free training session when you first sign up to the gym, so you can try out a personal trainer before committing to more sessions. 

Who is Personal Training at Crunch Fitness Good For?   

If you’re new to the gym and you have no idea what you’re doing when it comes to working out, the Crunch Fitness personal trainers are knowledgeable enough to help you get started. They can also help you if you’ve been working out on your own for a while but have reached a plateau or lost your motivation to train. 

Just make sure that you aren’t pressured into buying late training packages if you’re not 100% certain that you want to sign up. 

Learn more about personal training at Crunch Fitness and everything else it has available in my full Crunch Fitness review.

9. Workout Anytime 

Every personal trainer at Workout Anytime is required to possess qualifications from accredited institutions like NASM or ACE. Some may also have additional qualifications in specialist areas of fitness and nutrition. 

The personal trainers at Workout Anytime will provide a full initial assessment when you first sign up for sessions. They will complete a medical history check and will determine your goals and favorite training style. From here, they will provide a customized training plan that meets your needs and preferences. 

If you need some guidance with your nutrition, the personal trainers at Workout Anytime will create a customized meal plan for you. Over time, as you go through your training and meal plans with them, your personal trainer will track your progress to ensure you are on the right track. 

What is the Cost of Personal Training at Workout Anytime? 

Workout Anytime personal training sessions tend to cost between $45 and $120 per session, but this can vary based on which club you’re at. Most trainers insist that you sign up for a 12-month package. 

Who is Personal Training at Workout Anytime Good For?   

The personal trainers at Workout Anytime are happy to train members on a one-to-one basis, as a couple, or as a group. Therefore, it’s an ideal gym if you are nervous about working out with a trainer on your own. 

As well, if you need a lot of guidance with your training and nutrition, the personal trainers at Workout Anytime will guide you through your plans in detail. 

Learn more about personal training at Workout Anytime and everything else it has available in my full Workout Anytime review.

Gyms Without Personal Trainers  

Most gyms have personal trainers. However, there are some gym franchises that I wouldn’t necessarily recommend if you’re joining the gym primarily to try its personal training sessions. 

You also have to be careful with some of the 24-hour gyms as some won’t have personal trainers available at all hours of the day. 

Check with your local club to see what hours the personal trainers are available. You might need to ask at the reception desk or speak to a trainer on the gym floor. The gym might also have personal training details on a notice board somewhere near the gym area. 

The gyms that I wouldn’t recommend for personal training are: 

  • LA Fitness 
  • Planet Fitness 
  • Youfit 
  • F45 

1. LA Fitness 

The LA Fitness personal trainers aren’t known for being the most experienced. To become a personal training in an LA Fitness gym, you only need the bare minimum qualifications. 

It’s often seen as the place to go for new trainers who are looking to gain more experience before moving onto another gym. For this reason, the trainers tend not to have the most experience and aren’t the best choice if you’re searching for the best gyms with trainers. 

2. Planet Fitness 

Despite being free with your membership, the personal training at Planet Fitness is still not something I’d go out of my way to recommend.  

The personal trainers at Planet Fitness are required to have basic accreditations, such as those from NASM or ACE. However, they are not required to have any additional qualifications to work on the gym floor. 

The trainers are there to show you how to do certain exercises or use specific machines, but they won’t necessarily coach you through a tailored workout program and check in with you each week. 

3. Youfit 

Youfit only offers 30-minute-long personal training sessions. In my opinion, this isn’t long enough to properly train a client and run through an effective workout. 

Of course, you can still get a great workout done in half an hour. But when you factor in the warm-up, cool-down, and exercise demonstrations during a personal training session, 30 minutes isn’t a very long time. 

Even as a beginner, you could probably spend your time more effectively by following a workout video that you’ve found online or joining a short gym group class. 

4. F45 

F45 only offers group classes, so if you are after one-to-one personal training sessions, you won’t find them at F45. 

The F45 personal trainers all have personal training qualifications. However, many of them do not have group training or teaching certifications, so they may not necessarily be the best at teaching group classes. 

Benefits of Working With A Trainer In A Gym 

The main benefits of working out with a personal trainer in the gym are: 

  • They hold you accountable 
  • It can help to reduce gym anxiety 
  • You’ll get faster, more sustainable results 
  • You can learn along the way 

They Hold You Accountable 

When starting your fitness journey, it can be helpful to have somebody there to hold you accountable. This is exactly what a personal trainer can do. 

On the days when you’re tempted to skip a workout, you’ll be reminded that your personal trainer is waiting at the gym for you. 

Since you’ll already have paid for the personal training session and you won’t want to let your trainer down, you’re more likely to get ready and head to the gym despite not feeling motivated to work out. 

It Can Help To Reduce Gym Anxiety 

When you’re a beginner, the gym can be an intimidating place, especially if you’re working out on your own. Having a personal trainer to guide you through your first few weeks of working out will reduce your gym anxiety. 

Having a professional trainer with you during your workout will help you to feel more confident with trying out new exercises. You can get used to using the gym equipment and performing various movements knowing that your trainer is there to offer support. 

You’ll Get Faster, More Sustainable Results 

When you have a specific goal but you aren’t sure which exercises are right for you, a personal trainer can help to create a training program that is tailored to your needs. For example, if you want to build strength or increase muscle mass in your legs, a personal trainer can show you exercises that not only will give you results but also work best with your individual body type.

To get faster, more sustainable results, you need to follow a training program that is specific to your goals. This can be difficult to do when you’re working out on your own and you don’t have any prior fitness experience. 

Your personal trainer will show you what exercises are best to help you lose weight or gain muscle so that you actually achieve the results you’re after. They will demo each exercise and give you important cues to ensure that you’re doing everything safely and effectively. 

You Can Learn Along The Way 

The best personal trainers have lots of knowledge about health, fitness, and nutrition. During your sessions with them, you can ask questions and learn more as you move through your fitness journey. 

If you’ve always wanted to learn more about how to work out properly or what foods to eat for optimal health, you can ask an expert trainer in the gym for advice. Your personal training sessions will also give you multiple opportunities to explore new exercises and learn how to move your body in a healthy and functional way. 

Additional Gym Resources

About The Author

Athina Crilley

Athina Crilley is a Biochemistry graduate, a qualified personal trainer, and a women’s health and nutrition coach. She is passionate about helping women to balance their hormones and regulate their cycles. She is the host and producer of Finding Flo podcast, which covers all things women’s health and nutrition.