Personal trainers can make the difference in the success of your fitness program. A trainer can work with you regularly, or you can hire one on a consulting basis to help design a workout for you and update it periodically. Personal trainers work with people of all ages. They can motivate you to exercise and make sure you’re pursuing a program that will help you accomplish your desired goals. To do these things, personal trainers need a solid grounding in exercise science and a motivating personality.
You can find personal trainers in your area by looking through local newspapers and magazines, and by asking friends, fitness facilities, sports medicine clinics and physical therapists for referrals. When you are shopping for a personal trainer, interview several different ones carefully. Use the questions below as a base.
Does the trainer have a background in exercise physiology, anatomy, injury prevention and monitoring of exercise intensity, as evidenced by a degree in a related medical or physical science field or certification through a nationally recognized organization (ACE, ACSM, N.S.C.A., A.F.A.A. or reputable equivalent)?
To design a safe, effective workout, a personal trainer needs a good grounding in exercise technique. A personal training or exercise certification indicates that the personal trainer has at least the basic knowledge in areas necessary to conduct a quality session.
Does the trainer have experience in fitness training, and does he or she keep current with research through association membership, journals and educational events?
You want to make sure you can rely on your trainer as a fitness, exercise and lifestyle resource. Because the exercise industry is changing all the time, trainers need to update their knowledge regularly to provide you with timely and comprehensive information. Membership in a professional fitness association like IDEA is one way you can tell that a personal trainer is staying current.
Is the trainer certified in cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) and first aid?
Safety training enables a personal trainer to know what to do in case of an emergency in your session.
Does the trainer require a health screening or release from your doctor?
Many medical conditions and/or past injuries can affect your participation in a training session. A quality trainer will design a session that takes these into account yet still provides you with an effective workout. If you are under a doctor’s care for certain conditions, a professional trainer will discuss any exercise concerns with your doctor.
Can the trainer provide you with references from other clients or established industry professionals familiar with the trainer’s knowledge and abilities?
People go to trainers for a variety of reasons: weight loss, cardiovascular improvement, triathlon training, rehabilitation, general toning, pre/postnatal fitness and more. Your trainer should have experience in the type of training you want. Calling references can help you determine if the trainer has the expertise to provide you with the workout you want.
Will the trainer keep a record of your workouts with a tracking system and update your medical history periodically?
A professional trainer will help you establish realistic short-term and long-term goals and assess your progress to help motivate you. Areas in which your trainer might track your progress include weight, percent body fat, body measurements, cardiovascular improvement, strength and stamina. By updating your medical history from time to time, your trainer will be able to adjust your workouts, if needed, to reflect any changed conditions.
Does the trainer have liability insurance?
In case you get injured through negligence on the trainer’s part, it is important that the trainer have liability insurance.
Does the trainer provide you with clear-cut cancellation policies, billing procedures and any other policies in writing?
To avoid any confusion in the future and to protect your rights, it is important to get all policies in writing.
Is the trainer within your budget?
Trainers charge a broad range of fees depending on length of workout, location and trainer’s experience. You can expect to pay between $20 and $100 an hour. Some trainers offer reduced fees if you buy a package of sessions.
Is the trainer available when you want to work out?
Make sure that the trainer can accommodate your schedule. If you will need to change appointment times late, ask if different times are open.
Does the trainer ask questions about your lifestyle?
Personal training is effective because it is personally designed for you, incorporating your individual tastes. Your trainer shouldn’t give all clients the same “cookie cutout” workout. He or she should take into account the demands of your job, your hobbies and other activities you participate in.
Does the trainer help you set safe and realistic goals, without promising unattainable results?
A professional trainer will help you set goals you can reasonably achieve. This is important because you are more likely to adhere to exercise if you don’t overdo it.
Is the trainer interested in seeing you maintain a well-rounded, healthy lifestyle in addition to exercise?
A professional trainer knows that overall wellness means more than just exercise. Your trainer should be able to provide information about smart eating, stress management and medical care or refer you to sources or other professionals who can help you.
Has the trainer cultivated a network of professionals, such as physicians, nutrition specialists, physical therapists and other fitness leaders?
A professional trainer should have established sources for specialized questions and referrals in order to provide you with optimal service for your needs.
Does the trainer exhibit good listening skills and communicate well?
If your trainer doesn’t listen to what you want, he or she won’t be able to design a program that addresses your needs. Likewise, if a trainer can’t communicate effectively, you won’t be able to understand what to do. Also, your trainer should motivate you by positive, not negative, reinforcement. A professional trainer will never make you feel inadequate or incompetent.
Is the trainer willing to explain and put in writing his or her workout methods and the principles and reasoning behind exercise program decisions?
You should always know why you are doing certain exercises. You should be able to have input into creating your program, and your trainer should encourage questions so you can learn more about fitness and health. A professional will present you with a program packet.
Do you feel you will get along well with the trainer?
In order to have the best working relationship, you should like your trainer’s personality. Your trainer should be able to motivate you in a way that is meaningful to you. Do you enjoy a high-energy, intense approach, or are you more comfortable with a low-energy, relaxing style? Carefully interview the trainer to see what approach he or she would have with you.
Are you comfortable with the trainer’s gender?
Some people like working with a trainer of the same sex, and other prefer the opposite sex. If you are comfortable with your trainer, you will get good results.