How To Find the Right Personal Trainer For You

Clipboardby Maren Sederquist, MES, CSCS, CPT

Hiring a personal trainer can be a great way to help you succeed in reaching your goals. They can:

  • Help you safely start and maintain an effective exercise program.
  • Understand your fitness goals and help you achieve them.
  • Screen you for injuries and medical issues that may warrant special instructions.
  • Individualize your exercise program for your needs.
  • Be a source of continuing motivation and encouragement.
  • Educate you to minimize your risk for injury, maximize your efforts, and incorporate exercise into your healthy lifestyle for life.
  • Be a source of the latest in health and fitness news.

Personal trainers should have the following qualifications met before you even start interviewing:

  • Certified by at least one nationally recognized and reputable organization that issues practical exams, not just written tests. Personal training certificates are offer red online, so be careful! Some of the best organizations:
  • CPR certified by the American Red Cross or the American Heart Association.
  • Insured for professional liability.
  • At least 5 years of experience. Many trainers who don't stick around that long, won't be around for long at all!
  • At least a bachelors degree in an exercise science related field.
  • Has you fill out a health questionnaire to make sure they know it's safe for you to exercise.
  • Includes a movement screen or other joint range of motion and muscle imbalance assessment to make sure they're starting you off with the best exercises for you.
  • Has a background and education specific to your goals.
  • Provides references. Make sure testimonials in clue the full names of their clients, not just initials, so you know they're not made up. If they don't have written recommendations, ask for references and check up on them.

Try the following resources for finding trainers:

  • If there is a gym that you know you want to work out at, check to see if they have in-staff trainers, or if they allow independent trainers in. You may be limiting your options already.
  • Try the following databases for referrals.
    • ACE (They should have additional certifications.)
    • IDEA
  • Ask your family, friends and coworkers if they have one they'd recommend.

Other questions to ask:

  • Would you prefer male or female?
  • What does the trainer charge? Are there package prices?
  • Does the trainer require you to sign a long-term contract?
  • Is the trainer available to meet your schedule needs?
  • What is the cancellation policy?
  • How long is each session?
  • What services are included?
  • Is there an additional gym membership fee?

Once you've found trainers who meet your qualifications, start talking to them. Make sure you interview several to make sure you find one who is a good match for you.

  • Do you like their personality?
  • Is the trainer friendly and open to your questions?
  • Does the trainer communicate well and explain exercises in an easy to understand manner?
  • Does the trainer seem sensitive to your needs?
  • Does the trainer motivate without pushing you beyond your natural abilities?