How To Find A Good Trainer

By Yuri Elkaim, BPHE, CK, RHN

Most commercial gyms promote in-house personal training services. However, before hiring the guy behind a desk at the gym, you need to consider that the field of personal training is still highly unregulated. Just because someone works at a gym, doesn’t make him an authority in the business. A quality personal trainer needs more than a piece of paper saying he or she passed a test. 

Take the following qualifications into consideration when hiring a personal trainer:

Certifications: A quality certification is an investment. Make sure a highly respected certificate like ISSA NASM, ACSM, NSCA, AFFA, ACE, nationally certifies your trainer.  Some certificates can be purchased online for a low price, meaning your trainer was never required to open a textbook, let alone read one during a class. If you are unfamiliar with your trainer’s certification agency, then look it up before you make your decision.

CPR training: Your trainer needs to hold a CPR certificate. If he doesn’t have one, you are better off searching somewhere else.

Experience: Whether you hire a trainer through your gym, or an independent contractor, you need to take experience into consideration. Not all gym trainers are good, and not all new trainers are bad. You should get a list of references and talk to other clients who used the same trainer.

Appearance: Remember that what your trainer’s clients look like is far more important than what he or she looks like himself or herself. Of course, you want someone who is into their own health, but focus more on how their clients look and feel. A guy who carries a ton of mass and is completely shredded doesn’t make him a great trainer. Especially if his clients aren’t showing any changes. On the other hand, you don’t want to walk in to a training session and see your trainer munching on a double cheeseburger while washing it down with a 64-ounce cola.

Insurance: Most gyms issue liability insurance, but not always. Independent contractors need to purchase their own insurance. Make sure your trainer’s insurance is up to date.

Pricing: Never choose a trainer solely based on pricing. However, it is important to know pricing and policies up front.  A trainer doesn’t charge based on his experience, but the amount of time he invests into your program.

A good trainer will workout out a fitness and diet program geared specifically toward your needs and goals. If you see him in the gym doing the exact same routine with 7 other clients, run the other way. He should spend a good amount of time learning your fitness and medical history. He should also set a diet specific to your body type and goals. Your training should be based on all of this information as well.

Ask if you need to sign a contract or can pay month-to-month. You don’t want to get locked into a lengthy contract if you aren’t sure whether things will workout with your trainer. See what you need to pay up front and ask about cancellation policies.



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