Fitness Articles

How to Choose a Personal Trainer

Things to Consider Before Making the Investment


What Should I Look For?
One of the most important things to ask about is a trainer's credentials. Your trainer should have a reputable certification and preferably, a degree in the exercise/fitness field. Here are a few websites of reputable certification bodies that allow you to search for trainers in your area: Sites like these are helpful because they also give information about the trainer's qualifications, which are important when making a decision about who to hire.

Your trainer should have a current CPR and First Aid certification as well. Don't be afraid to ask to see a copy of all of their certification cards to make sure they are current.

How Should I Interview a Potential Trainer?
Remember that you are hiring this person to work for you. Treat your first meeting like a job interview. Don't be afraid to ask them questions about their training philosophy, what specific things they will do to help you reach your goals, and how they think they can be of service to you. Here are some questions to get you started:
  • What kind of experience and credentials do you have?
  • What kind of motivational techniques do you use to help your clients reach their goals?
  • Knowing my specific fitness goals, what kind of workout plan will you develop to help me?
  • How often will you change my workout routine?
  • Do you have current clients I could contact as references?
This first meeting should be free, and if it's not, find a different trainer who will answer these questions before you have to commit to buying anything. There are lots of trainers out there with a variety of personalities and styles, so don't be afraid to interview a few before you decide which one is the best match for you.

Also ask about package details such as:
  • What kind of packages do you offer? Typically, the fewer sessions you buy, the more each will cost. Also ask about payment options, whether a full payment is expected up front, per session, or as installments over time.
  • Can I buy individual sessions? This refers to single sessions of personal training as opposed to a package of several sessions.
  • What is your refund policy? Especially if you are hiring a trainer affiliated with your gym, ask about this one. If your trainer is no longer employed there, for example, will you be able to get a refund for the sessions you paid for or will you be forced to continue with another trainer? If you are unhappy with your trainer, can you get your money back?
  • Do you offer multiple-client sessions? Group training usually costs less per person. If you can exercise with a few friends, you'll all save money.
  • If I buy a package, do I have a certain period of time to use it? Make sure the package won't expire before you have a chance to use all of the sessions you paid for.
  • What hours are you available to train me? If your trainer can't commit to a schedule that works for you, then find another trainer who can.
  • What kind of fitness assessments do you perform and how often? Fitness assessments like body fat testing, blood pressure screening, and strength, flexibility and endurance tests will help your trainer gauge your starting fitness level and design a safe exercise program. Typically, she should perform these assessments over time and adjust your training program accordingly.
  • What is your cancellation policy? Many trainers will require 24-48 hours notice for you to cancel a session without having to pay for it.
What Should I Avoid?
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About The Author

Jen Mueller Jen Mueller
Jen received her master's degree in health promotion and education from the University of Cincinnati. A mom and avid marathon runner, she is an ACE-certified personal trainer, health coach, medical exercise specialist and behavior change specialist. See all of Jen's articles.

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