A good personal fitness trainer will create an exercise program that’s perfect for you—and keep you motivated to stick with it. Here are the questions to ask to make sure the trainer you hire is a great fit for you…
What credentials do you hold? While there’s no law saying a personal fitness trainer must have specific certifications or a degree in exercise science, physical therapy or nutrition, those who take the time and effort to get certified and earn these or similar degrees are showing that they are not only knowledgeable but also responsible. Among the leading certifying associations for personal fitness trainers are the National Strength and Conditioning Association (NSCA), the American Council on Exercise (ACE), the National Academy of Sports Medicine (NASM) and the American College of Sports Medicine) ACSM.
How will you design an exercise program to meet my goals? A trainer should ask you questions to get to know you, your current abilities and your goals so that he/she can design a program tailored specifically to your needs, whether you want to be able to run a marathon or simply feel better about yourself and enjoy exercise. You don’t want someone who hands you a cookie-cutter, one-size-fits-all plan. The trainer should plan to offer you a customized program detailing all the types of exercise it includes—and how each one is going to address various aspects of fitness including strength, cardiorespiratory fitness, flexibility and balance. He should be able to explain how he used your current level of fitness to create this baseline program. If you’re coming off an injury, the trainer should say how the plan will help your recovery.
What results can I expect…and when will I start seeing them? Along with a training program, the trainer should outline a specific timeframe for reaching each of your fitness goals. He should also tell you, after an assessment of your current physical condition, how much work and commitment will be involved on your part. It’s reasonable to hear that you may be able to see and feel improvements after a few weeks, but just as with weight-loss diets, there are no overnight results, so promises that sound too good to be true probably are. A good trainer will be willing to create three-, six- and 12-month plans that can be tweaked based on the pace at which you progress.
How will we track my progress? A good trainer will outline how he will assess your progress, report how well you’re doing and adjust your program if it’s not working or update it as you reach fitness goals. He should be able to tell you what metrics will be used, such as the time it takes you to run a mile, how quickly your heart rate returns to normal after cardio work and/or simply using a tape measure to track inches lost around your hips or waist.
When are you available? You want to make sure that your trainer can accommodate your schedule. Will he be flexible and work around your job or family obligations?
Can you refer me to clients similar to me in age and needs? References are a great way to learn whether a trainer is likely to be a good fit. Also, check his social-media accounts such as Facebook and Twitter for comments and signs of compatibility. Then ask yourself whether you think you can get along with this person.
How much do you charge? Rates will vary, of course, depending on where you live, where you train (home, gym, outdoors) and the trainer’s experience. In addition, discuss what payment options are available and how long you must commit to your arrangement. Don’t forget to ask what happens if you wish to cancel a session or want to stop altogether.