If you're looking for guidance and motivation with your fitness program, seeking the assistance of a personal trainer may be a good choice. However, just as I feel overwhelmed trying to learn what my realtor or accountant’s credentials are and what they mean, the general public isn’t always quite sure what to look for when choosing a personal trainer.
Many factors should be considered before hiring a personal trainer. An interview is a great way to learn important information. The following list of items to ask about should help, but also consider if the trainer’s personality and philosophy is compatible with you to decide if he or she is the best fit. (Go with your gut, even if they have everything “on paper.”)
- Personal trainers should be certified by an organization that is accredited by a third party accreditation agency such as the National Commission for Certifying Agencies (NCCA). Feel free to ask them for a copy of their certificate and CPR/First Aid cards to verify his or her certifications are current.
- Ask the trainer about their education. A college degree in exercise science or related health field is often preferred, but experience and training are also important.
- The trainer should be willing to provide references.
- Ask the trainer about their experience and if they have any areas of specialization. You can also inquire what types of equipment or methods they utilize.
- Make sure the trainer or the employer they work for has liability insurance.
- Get a clear understanding about the trainer or facility's policies (i.e. compensation rate, cancellation policy, session expiration date, etc.) so you will have no surprises.
- Does the trainer train clients individually, or will they also work with partners or small groups?
- Ask the trainer how they would describe their philosophy. Would you say it is well-suited to your style of learning, motivation and personality?
Keep in mind that you'll be sharing some personal and potentially confidential information with your personal trainer, much like a health care provider. Make sure that you feel comfortable and confident in the professional you chose to work with.
I encourage everyone to practice good consumer awareness with group exercise instructors as well. Again, your instructor should have a basic group exercise instructor certification and hopefully additional training in each format he or she teaches. Be wary of confusing lingo! For example, licensed programs such as Zumba®, often require instructors to attend a training and pay a fee to be authorized to teach the program, but they may not have to pass an exam. Instructors of licensed programs should also hold a group fitness instructor certification.
If you have any questions about fitness certifications or exercise science credientials, feel free to contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org.