Questions to ask when choosing a personal trainer

Pamela Egan Practical Practitioner


By: Pamela Egan, FNP-C CDE



Questions to ask when choosing a personal trainer



Dear Pam,

My husband and I have decided to hire a personal trainer at the YMCA to help us get back into shape. Any pointers?

You are very smart to hire a personal trainer to assist you in getting started. I speak from personal experience.

There’s nothing worse than using exercise equipment in the incorrect manner and not reaping the full benefits.

Often, an experienced trainer can coax results from your body that you simply couldn’t achieve on your own.

Not all personal trainers are created equal, and you can’t gauge a trainer’s knowledge or experience simply by the size of his or her biceps. Before you entrust a stranger with your health and safety, be sure to ask him or her the following questions.

1. Do you have any certifications or degrees that qualify you as a trainer?

Your trainer should have some formal education. After all, would you trust a self-taught clinician?

Many personal trainers have a bachelors, masters, or doctorate degrees from a college or university.

Respected training certification institutions include the American Council on Exercise, the Aerobics and Fitness Association of America, the American College of Sports Medicine and the National Strength Training Association of America.

2. How long have you been a fitness trainer?

Your trainer should have some experience and should be able to produce references – people who have consulted with him or her and have been pleased by the results.

3. How long are your training sessions and what are your rates?

Most training sessions last an hour.

Be wary of trainers who operate training factories.

If you are the fifth client in as many hours, your trainer likely will be burned out by the time you’re ready to work hard.

Also, keep in mind that more experienced trainers set higher rates, and rightfully so. It’s worth spending money on a good personal trainer rather than hospitals and medications.

4. What is your training and nutrition philosophy?

A good trainer should be able to clearly articulate his or her methods and techniques.

He or she will take the time to conduct a preliminary fitness screening to gauge your fitness level and will discuss with you your goals, as well as your health and fitness history.

In addition, because diet and nutrition play a critical role in achieving and maintaining fitness results, your trainer should be able to offer you solid advice.

A well-balanced trainer will speak not just of body image, but also of health and wellness.

Finally, before you choose your trainer, trust your powers of observation.

Good trainers are good role models, and they practice what they preach.

Your trainer should look healthy and shouldn’t be wolfing down candy bars between clients. He or she should exude passion.

And perhaps most importantly, he or she should have the kind of personality that can motivate you to achieve your goals, which after all, is what consulting with a personal trainer is all about.

This article was originally published January 19, 2004 in The St. Tammany News. > Health Articles > Health and Wellness