Choosing a Trainer

Just about anyone can call themselves a “personal trainer.” With such a lack of regulation in the training industry, how can you make sure you’re working with a personal trainer you can trust with your health and well-being? The key is to ask questions. A good trainer will not only expect questions, but he or she will be willing to provide documentation upon request. Here are a few things to keep in mind when looking for a new trainer:

Education

Does your trainer have any form of higher learning in a related area? Even a degree in a broad field such as biology or zoology, to a more specific degree in an area such as exercise science, exercise physiology, or kinesiology will guarantee your trainer has at least a background in anatomy and physiology.

Certification

Is your trainer certified, and more importantly, by whom? Remember, in an unregulated industry, “certified” does not necessarily indicate expertise. Two of the most respected certifications in the industry are offered by:
National Strength and Conditioning Association (NSCA)
American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM)
Other nationally recognized certifying agencies that you are likely to see are:
National Academy of Sports Medicine (NASM)
American Council on Exercise (ACE)
International Sports Sciences Association (ISSA)
Aerobic and Fitness Association of America (AFAA)

Insurance

Does your trainer carry his own liability insurance? This not only protects against personal injury loss, but is a good indication that your trainer takes his profession seriously.

CPR

Is your trainer CPR certified? This is a must. Your trainer must be prepared for emergency situations.

Experience

How much experience does your trainer have working with clients with similar needs? While this experience can be invaluable, it is not necessarily a requirement. A lack of experience can be overcome by a trainer’s willingness to do a little research.

Willingness to say, “I don’t know.”

Will your trainer take the time to research your questions? This may be one of the most underrated traits of a personal trainer, as misinformation can lead to injury. One of the best (but seemingly hardest) things a trainer can do is simply say, “I don’t know, but by the next time I see you I will have the answer.”

Personality

When you met with your perspective trainer, did you feel comfortable? You will be spending a lot of time with this person in the weeks and months to follow. If he or she makes you feel uncomfortable at all, it’s best to find another trainer.