Fitness Articles

What You Forgot to Ask Your Personal Trainer

7 Questions to Find the Very Best Trainer for You

You already know how personal trainers help you reach your goals and push you to the next level, whether you're a beginner or a seasoned exerciser. You probably also know a little about how to choose the right trainer with the proper qualifications. However, how do you find the absolute best trainer for you and your goals?

I'm about to share a secret with you: Not every personal trainer—no matter how fabulous or talented he or she is—is going to be right for you. You may be dazzled by proven results, certifications and background, but by asking just seven questions, you can tap into exactly whom the personal trainer is and whether he or she will gel with you. Approach it as if you're in human resources and hiring for a big position in a big company. After all, you're pretty darn important, and you're handing over a big piece of your life here. When meeting with a personal trainer for the first time, most people ask solid basic questions, but these less traditional and less conventional questions really give you a sense as to why the personal trainer has chosen his or her career and what he or she can do for you. Read on to learn what questions to ask to find YOUR best trainer!

1. How do you stay in shape? Most personal trainers will train themselves similarly to how they'll train you. If they love to run, then they'll probably suggest that you run, too, as long as you're able. If they swear by daily yoga to stay fit, then they'll most likely suggest that you try yoga. Although this question doesn't guarantee what type of exercises they might have you do in a personal-training session, it does provide a window into their workout soul.

2. What's your fitness philosophy? A personal trainer should—without hesitation—be able to tell you exactly what he believes when it comes to fitness. Does he train his clients for better health? To improve body confidence? To show off a six-pack? This question really gets into what makes a personal trainer tick and will let you know better what goals the trainer will have in mind for you to set and achieve.

3. Do you recommend supplements? Although healthy eating is key to losing weight and getting in shape, personal trainers are not registered dietitians, and therefore should never give out specific nutritional advice such as meal plans or supplement recommendations beyond a multivitamin. When you ask this question, if a personal trainer starts going on and on about what supplements (or worse, diet pills) he or she uses and recommends to her clients, beware. It is outside of a personal trainer's scope of practice to give specific dietary recommendations.
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About The Author

Jennipher Walters Jennipher Walters
Jenn is the CEO and co-founder of the healthy living websites, and A certified personal trainer, health coach and group exercise instructor, she also holds an MA in health journalism and is the author of The Fit Bottomed Girls Anti-Diet book (Random House, 2014).

See all of Jenn's articles.

Member Comments

    I've never had a personal trainer, either. I've never even had an impersonal trainer, but I slog along goal... - 3/25/2014 9:13:23 PM
  • Great article but never had a trainer. - 6/21/2013 9:08:10 AM
  • According to this article I have found myself a superb trainer. I have never asked him about any of this, he himself has told me most of it.
    He is helping me in so many ways and always with a smile on his face and humor on the side. Ready to make me feel like I can achive anything I set my mind to! His help is also on the mental side which I find really important.
    Im sure that one of the reasons I have come this far is because of him :)
    Can hardly compliment him enough - 6/13/2012 11:27:12 AM
  • I had the most wonderful personal trainer while living in Michigan. I had never worked out before, was physically limber but overweight. I thank God for him and miss him every single day I don't see him (because I am in Illinois.) We stay in touch! I did not ask any of those questions, because I didn't know ANYTHING about fitness. I told him I wanted my beach body back. And he took it from there. I owe it all to Tony, to Spark People, and of course, to God. - 5/3/2012 3:05:14 PM
    I agree with Rhoadan about a trainer who will listen to your statements about limitations. I left a trainer once for that reason. I told her that I had back problems and an old injury to my left knee, both of which flared up when I did 'jumpy stuff'. I think she thought I was a whiner; and, after I got injured trying to do elements of plyometrics that she worked in my routine, I refused to do it anymore. It took weeks to get over the injury, but then when she asked me to an exercise that I knew was plyometrics in nature, I flat out refused and said she would have to find another way to work those muscles. When the block of sessions was done, I cancelled my gym membership and moved on. I now have a trainer that I love and who has got me to within 5 lbs of my goal weight. - 5/3/2012 7:18:01 AM
  • Another important question is how does the personal trainer respond when you explain your physical limitations. For that matter, does the PT even ask about such issues before putting together a plan?

    I ditched one guy who a) didn't bother asking me about health issues before putting me on a particular cardio machine and b) didn't listen when I told him that said machine was hard on my already injured knees, and that there were other types of cardio that I was fine with. Basically, we did not get past the first session. - 5/3/2012 5:24:22 AM
  • I tried a personal trainer once, but I was really uncomfortable with them just hanging out watching me workout. I don't need a babysitter, just a plan. Perhaps if I try it again I will know to ask more about things like that. - 2/18/2011 3:32:25 PM
  • Today at my gym, there were signs posted that they were hiring new "fitness counselors." I guess they're not calling them trainers anymore? - 11/19/2010 9:29:12 PM
  • I've been with my pt now for two years and as long as I can afford him, will continue.
    I now meet with him about every 4-5 weeks to assess and get new sets. Best investment I have ever made. - 1/3/2010 1:13:35 PM
  • Excellent article - I have been training with my PT for 3 years now and I just LOVE her. There was a period of several months that she needed to back off her schedule for personal and health reasons. I asked most of these questions to a group instructor at my gym who's class I really enjoyed. After 2 sessions I told him that although I loved his group class I was unhappy with his one on one style. He never gave positive reinforcement (which I thrive on) and the sessions were always more about what I couldn't do instead of what I could do. He made a few changes, but it was never the endorphin high I got with my regular trainer. We parted company - no hard feelings - and I just waited for my favorite PT to recover and pick me up again. - 8/19/2009 11:05:51 AM
  • This article is just what I needed! I have recently joined a gym and would like to find a personal trainer to meet with just once a week for guidance. There are TONS of trainers at my gym (All independent contractors in a way... They are allowed to conduct business there and the gym takes a cut but the gym doesn't pay them hourly to be there.) So with all those trainers around, its hard to figure out who to go with. I have met a couple (like I said, they don't get paid so they are always trying to find new clients) but I never knew what to ask them to nail the one down that I want! Perfect. I am going to print this out and put it in my gym bag! - 8/19/2009 8:28:28 AM
    I stumbled on the best trainer ever for me by accident and I could not agree more on what the article said about the questions to ask.
    My first trainer was totally wrong for me because her goals did not match mine at all and she was still learning how to be a personal trainer. She took what her trainer taught and tried to use it on me and the excercises were much too advanced for me. The trainer I have now varies workouts and carefully evaluates what I am capable of before giving me an exercise. I have worked with her for over a year once a week and although I do not look all that different, my strength and stamina have increased as well as my balance. Her goals for me match what I have though. I did not want to be super fit , but I needed strength and balance.
    Those questions would have been handy to have when I met my first trainer. It was only by luck that I got a trainer perfect for me. - 8/18/2009 2:43:50 PM
    Very interesting article. My brother in law is a personal trainer...I want to ask him these questions just to see what his answers are. - 8/18/2009 11:16:26 AM
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