How to Choose the Right Personal Trainer

This is a big decision. Choosing the best personal trainer for you is ... well, personal. To get the most from your personal training sessions and the program your trainer creates for you, it's essential to know what to ask and how to see if your trainer is a good fit for you before you commit to a program with him or her. Start with this guide of four important things to ask before embarking on a fitness path with a new personal trainer.

1. Do They Have Certification and a Degree in an Exercise Science Related Field?

This is not so much about which certifications the trainer holds as it is about making sure they're certified by a nationally recognized organization. You should ask to see their certificate and look for acronyms including any of the following:

  • NSCA -- National Strength & Conditioning Association
  • ACSM -- American College of Sports Medicine
  • NASM -- National Academy of Sports Medicine
  • ACE -- American Council on Exercise
  • ISSA -- International Sports Sciences Association

2. Why Do You Want a Personal Trainer?

If your biggest reason for seeking out a trainer is to get the results you haven't been able to achieve on your own, ask the trainer questions about how he or she will push you safely to improve your health and fitness condition.

Do you mainly need someone to hold you accountable?

"This is one of the biggest reasons people go to personal trainers," says Kelly Blackwin owner/operator of the Santa Monica Fitness Together.

Ask the trainer about the most challenging experiences he or she has had with "slackers" or clients who lose their motivation, and listen for insight into how they handle difficult, emotionally charged situations.

Be brutally honest with yourself here. Picture how you'll feel and act when challenged or outside your comfort zone, and think about the communication styles you respond best to in that sort of situation.

Some people like the in-your-face yelling and screaming style and find it motivating, while others thrive more on positive reinforcement or a trainer who's just super energetic and excited that they're there.

If you have a very negative idea of what exercise is all about, that's a very different perspective from someone coming in and saying, "I want you to kick my butt." A personal trainer needs to know when to be nurturing, when to be tough, when to listen -- and mold his or her approach to the personality of each individual client.

3. Do They Have Practical Experience With Your Situation?

Ask the trainer how they've helped other people with the same type of injury, health condition or other special situation you're in. While training and certifications are important, experience with your situation will help your trainer better tailor your workout to your unique needs. For example, they may need to modify certain types of exercises to protect and strengthen a traumatized or vulnerable area of your body, or take a heart condition into account when structuring your cardio regimen.

It's about the trainer's practical knowledge. If you have a knee issue, make sure the trainer has the knowledge to help you protect that knee.

4. What Kind of Nutrition Training Does the Trainer Have?

Look for a trainer who has received instruction from a credentialed nutritionist in strategies to help clients improve their eating habits.

Multiple studies show that including dietary change into a weight loss program can produce two to three times greater weight loss than programs focused on exercise alone. Bonus: the same studies also show that changes in one's (diet or exercise habits) can help promote changes in the other, especially among women.

Look for a package deal that includes both fitness coaching and nutritional guidelines tailored specifically for you, and you're far more likely to achieve your goals.

Need new motivation and better results? We specialize in developing great trainers and matching them to your specific goals, preferences and priorities. Every Fitness Together trainer is nationally certified first, then completes our rigorous proprietary certification program that focuses on practical knowledge, client interaction and presence.

Every trainer also completes Nutrition Together training with a registered dietitian, and our personal training programs include a customized eating plan to help you maximize the benefit of your workout program. Ask us anytime about a free, no-obligation consultation and see the difference our one-on-one Fitness Together approach can make for you.

Active logoSee more fitness training tips or find an exercise class

Established in 1996, Fitness Together Franchise Corporation has led the industry for one-on-one personal fitness training. Whether you are looking to lose weight, tone and tighten muscles or simply work toward better health, Fitness Together pairs you with a personal trainer in a private setting equipped with a workout plan tailored just for you.

In addition to your personal fitness training regimen, Fitness Together offers nutritional guidance and a cardiovascular routine to help you attain your wellness goals.

There are almost 400 franchise locations throughout the United States, Brazil, Costa Rica, Israel, Ireland, and Canada, Fitness Together is part of Fitness Together Holdings, Inc

Discuss This Article