Questions to ask a potential personal trainer


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TrainerFinding a personal trainer can be a frazzling experience. Jenn Zerling, MS, CPT — Los Angeles-based fitness expert, and the author of “Breaking the Chains of Obesity, 107 Tools” — offers supportive tips on how to select an effective personal trainer:

Personality matters.

Do you like them?  If you don’t like them, who cares what they know.  You have to spend two to five hours with them a week. Why hang out with someone you don’t care for?

Credentials are important.

What are their credentials? So, if you do like them, ask them who they are certified through. Here are some very popular credentialing bodies:

  • NASM
  • ACE
  • ACSM
  • NSCA
  • ISSA


Some trainers have a degree in exercise science. This is fabulous. A couple of popular ones include kinesiology and exercise physiology. There are even degrees in sports psychology and physical education. Trainers should also stay abreast of the latest research and developments in the field.

What is his/her specialty?

  • Weight loss
  • Sports
  • Body building
  • Martial arts
  • Yoga
  • Geriatric
  • Pre/postnatal
  • Post rehab


How does this trainer design programs?

  • Use of postural assessments?
  • VO2 max assessment
  • Are vitals checked?
  • Are before and after pictures taken?
  • Are circumference measurements and body comp assessed?


Watch the trainer interact with his/her clients

  • See if you like what you see. Does (s)he talk a lot?
  • Is (s)he in tune with the client’s form?
  • Is (s)he on the cell phone while the client is working out?
  • How is his/her nonverbal body language?
  • Does (s)he possess emotional intelligence about his/her client?


Speak to reference(s)

  • Call a current client.
  • Ask the client what his/her goals were and what this trainer did for them.
  • Is (s)he ever tardy for sessions/reschedule too much?


The hiring

  • Do a consultation with the trainer before committing to a relationship.
  • Determine a weekly plan of action with the trainer included.
  • Have the trainer run through an appropriate cardiovascular workout with you to do you on your own.
  • Assess your progress through specific and measurable goals.


What to avoid

1.  Trainers who give you improper exercises

  • How do you know? The exercises should not cause you to be in pain.


2. Trainers who are unprofessional

  • Shows up late/cancel frequently.
  • Doesn’t take continuing education workshops.
  • Look around at other people during the session.
  • Talks about other people during the session.
  • Comes into the session hungover.
  • Doesn’t live the lifestyle of a trainer.
  • Doesn’t listen to your personal goals.
  • Isn’t attentive to your form throughout the session.
  • Demonstrates inappropriate behavior, such as touching in personal places, or makes inappropriate comments.


3. Training with someone who doesn’t align with your personal goals


Want even more advice on personal trainers? Click the following links for finding the right trainer; building a successful relationship with your trainer; and when to call it quits with your trainer.