How to Choose a Personal Trainer

11 Important Questions to Ask

Working out with a personal trainer is a great investment in our health and fitness, but it can be tricky to know how to choose the right one. Here are the top questions to ask when deciding whom to hire.

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The Benefits of a Personal Trainer

With the festivities behind us and the credit card bills paid, there are no more reminders of the holidays—except maybe the few extra pounds around our midsections.

Choosing a Trainer

When this is the case, many of us consider hitting the gym to burn off those extra calories. But when we’re unsure about what to do once we arrive at said gym, it’s a great idea to hire a personal trainer.

A trainer understands the way the human body moves and which exercises are best for each specific body part. With their knowledge and experience, we’re in good hands on our fitness journeys.

However, a laundry list of questions to ask a prospective trainer regarding background, education, and experience is necessary; we would be doing ourselves a disservice if we neglected to interview our trainers before putting them to work.

These are the most important questions to ask when looking for someone to hire.

1. Are you certified?

This seems like a pretty obvious question, but unfortunately, there are trainers out there who are not qualified through a certifying body such as the British Columbia Recreation and Parks Association (BCRPA) or the American Council on Exercise (ACE) (see the sidebar “Reputable certifying agencies” for more certifying bodies).

To become certified, a personal trainer has to go through coursework and standardized testing, as well as CPR and first aid training.

2. Are you specialized?

A 20-year-old healthy woman has different needs than a 75-year-old osteoporotic woman. Trainers need to understand these differences, and if they specialize, they can cater to those specific needs.

“Specializations give me the knowledge to help people with various physical conditions, improving their quality of life,” says personal trainer Lucy Anderson, who is a joint replacement specialist and cardiac rehabilitation instructor, among other things.

3. How long have you been in the industry?

Experience is important! Every year, we all learn more about the field we’re in, and fitness is no different. The more workshops, networking, and courses trainers take part in, the more knowledge they have.

Take into account your needs and goals, and consider looking for someone who has put in at least two years in the field.

4. Can I call your past clients for a reference?

Any time we hire someone, we usually receive references, so why not with a personal trainer? If a trainer is happy to share his references, this means his clients back him up and enjoyed his services.

5. Do you have a blog/website I can check out?

These days, most businesses and professionals have an online presence with a blog or website. If a personal trainer updates her blog with current events she’s hosting or sends out monthly newsletters, it shows that she is the type of person to go that extra mile to keep clients informed.

6. Can I try before I buy?

Many trainers are happy to give a session gratis before clients decide to hire them. This is a way to try out their services before committing to a package that can run into the hundreds of dollars. This is not a new concept for trainers, so they should not be surprised if asked.

7. Do you keep up your continuing education?

Did the prospective trainer get certified 20 years ago—or more? If so, he needs to be current on today’s fitness trends and not the trends of the past generation. Continuing education is an essential part of being a professional personal trainer. Not only that, but CPR and first aid training also need to be updated at regular intervals.

8. How long will it take for me to reach my goals?

A trainer should give a realistic time frame with no quick fixes guaranteed. Going in with a little knowledge can ensure that our expectations are realistic, and the trainer’s theories on when we’ll get there match our expectations.

If a trainer guarantees we’ll be down two sizes in a week, his methods may be unreliable or unsafe. It takes time to get fit!

9. Are you insured?

This keeps everyone safe, and it’s mandatory for trainers to have insurance if they are independent. Some gyms will cover their full-time trainers. If we were ever to get injured, we know that we will be covered.

10. Do you have any success stories?

If a trainer is seasoned and has satisfied clients in her past, she should have at least one great success story to share. She should be excited to tell about her past clients’ successes and hope that she can add more clients to her roster of successes.

11. Why you?

With all the personal trainers out there nowadays, what makes one individual trainer stand out from other personal trainers with the same qualifications?

It’s so important to find a certain “wow” factor with a trainer for it to work out. Trainers and clients need to be compatible on many levels, whether it be that the trainer specializes in a specific need, is relatable, or just has a similar moral code. These things do matter!

Don’t be afraid to ask a prospective personal trainer as many questions as possible; trainers and clients spend a lot of up-close-and-personal time together, and when your trainer is in your face telling you, “Do 10 more!”, you won’t mind quite as much if you like him.

Reputable certifying agencies

Canada

  • British Columbia Recreation and Parks Association (BCRPA) bcrpa.bc.ca
  • Canadian Fitness Professionals (CanFitPro) canfitpro.ca
  • Canadian Society for Exercise Physiology (CSEP) csep.ca

International (recognized worldwide)

About the Author

Nicole Palacios, BSc, ACE, has been part of the fitness industry for 17 years. Her passions include her family, fitness writing, and weight training. perfectfit.ws

Article Credit February 2013 Alive Magazine

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