What to Look for in a Personal Fitness Trainer

Highlighting a Woodlake Valley Chamber of Commerce Member

At almost 64 years old, I did not think of myself as “out of shape” when I started training with Melissa Bourn almost a year ago. I walked 3-4 miles a day, worked out once-in-awhile with our home gym, and exercised with my husband in the pool during the summer.

Personal Fitness Trainer, Melissa Bourn
Personal Fitness Trainer, Melissa Bourn

Beginning day one of our training sessions, Melissa started by asking us to stand up from a sitting position on the floor. No sweat, right?


“You can’t use your hands.”

‘Whaaaaaa? No hands? Are you kidding me?”

Why is that important, you might ask?

Personal fitness training session with friends
Personal fitness training session with friends

Melissa trains all ages, but even middle-aged to older people are not intimidated by her encouraging manner. One woman in her 70s came to her, not because she wanted to lose weight, or become a dancing grandma, but because she fell in her house and could not get up. She lay there for several hours until someone found her. As someone who falls a lot, that struck a sensitive chord with me.

Why We Chose Melissa’s Gym

Choosing a Gym
Choosing a Gym
  • The gym is behind Melissa’s house in Elderwood, making it handy for us. This saves us nearly an hour of drive time to Visalia per visit.
  • Although Melissa doesn’t have multiple copies of every kind of equipment available on the market, she has every piece of equipment you could imagine needing. My favorite is Bob, a person shaped punching bag. 
  • She also does lots of floor work – meaning equipment optional. This is great because it means when we go home or travel, we can do the same exercises on our own. When I started, I could not do one push up.
  • She is VERY reasonable. She charges only $150 per month and we go to her three days per week. This works out to about $11 per hour session. “According to Dr. Sal Arria, president of NBFE, the average hourly rate for a trainer is $60-$70 per session. However, trainers can charge as low as $25 per hour, while some high-powered trainers earn as much as $15,000 for a six-week session, depending on geographical location and their experience.
  • Along the same line of PERSONAL fitness training, any of you who have gone to a personal trainer know that you might work out with 2-5  people. I used to train in Visalia. They offered an “hour” training – one half-hour of supervised exercises (scheduled with one or two strangers) and one half-hour workout on a cardio machine first. Several years ago that was $250 per month if we paid for six months. Melissa gives us an entire hour of PERSONAL training. I share the hour with my husband (our choice). Best of all we pay month-to-month with no contract.
  • That leads to another benefit. Constantly updating her skills, Melissa varies and tailors the routines for each session. She’s kind of ADHD, but we never get bored. Our bodies never get too used to it either, so every muscle group has to pay attention.
  • Speaking of muscles, since Melissa monitors us carefully, she notices our form. Many years ago when I was working out with a trainer, one of my friends met me at the gym. She watched me for a while. According to my friend, the trainer did not watch, and my form was less than stellar. Melissa pays strict attention to form. “Flex your foot more. Like this. You’re doing this. Move your hands farther apart.” If something is too hard or too easy, Melissa alters it by having us change the way we stand or hold the weight or rope. Nearly microscopic alterations in form make a huge difference in how the exercise works and feels on our bodies.
  • The day after the exercise is nearly as important as the day of. When we started, Melissa would call or text the next day to see how we felt. If we could barely move, she changed the routine so that we did not injure ourselves. She has a basic muscle group plan each day, therefore if several people complain about sore legs she takes it easier the next session on everyone unless we ask to be pushed. After nearly a year, she still asks how we are before we start every session.
  • Communication and concern are Melissa’s fortés. We get texts with at-home exercises, encouraging videos, and diet suggestions.
  • She runs contests. For example, one contest was for people who wanted to lose or gain weight. My husband weighed in, and she took measurements of his arms, chest, and legs – the areas he wanted to work. At the end of the contest, they measured again, and the one with the most overall body changes won. Vince did not win, but he enjoyed doing it and looks forward to the next one which starts in September.
  • Moving from contests with each other, Melissa looks for ways to expand people’s personal best. She put together a group to train and participate in a tough mudder competition. While wallowing in mud does not appeal to me, my husband is very excited about it and has enrolled in the October 8th event in Tulare, CA. We never know what she might come up for us next, but it’s always exciting.
Wall training is another option Melissa offers.
Wall training is another option Melissa offers.


Melissa became a part of the Woodlake Valley Chamber of Commerce in May. She’s busy making a difference by offering a service to help keep Woodlakers healthy. There are plenty of places people can go to work out, but her personal care and attention to detail make Melissa’s Gym unique. 



Author: Marsha

Hi, I'm Marsha Ingrao, author, blogger and retired teacher/consultant. Read more about me here. http://wp.me/P7tP3I-2

16 thoughts on “What to Look for in a Personal Fitness Trainer”

        1. When I went to England a second grader asked me how much trainers cost in the US. I gave him a puzzled look thinking of someone like Melissa, wondering why he cared. I gave him a vague answer which didn’t satisfy him. I finally just had to admit that I didn’t know. When he said Nike, the light went on!

          Liked by 1 person

  1. Thank you, Marsha! That’s absolutely great article! So many people this time wonder how to choose a personal trainer and gym – I recently post an article about that, but from different perspective (a trainer’s). I believe, that more stories like yours help people proceed on a way to a healthy lifestyle and longevity. So, thank you! Followed you not to miss anything 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you so much. Melissa is so great. My husband is almost 70 and he looks better than he’s ever looked. I’ve slacked off some, so I need to jump back into it. I travel quite a bit, so it’s hard for me to make it through a complete month of routines. Thanks for your comments. I do believe that exercising regularly and eating healthy food is the key to having a long productive life. Thanks for the follow! 🙂


  2. Great post. Kudos to Melissa for being such a dynamic trainer & you for keeping dedicated to your health. It looks like all of you not only get a great workout but have fun!!! You have another follower 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I know we should, Rifat. I even have EVERYTHING I need. But do I do it? I go in spurts. Right now, I’m struggling to be motivated. I started losing weight last year, and got tired of the grind. I’ll go back to it because I’m concerned about fitness and healthy, particularly mine. But I need a kick in the pants to get motivated. What motivates you? Are you good at exercising at home?


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