Using A Personal Trainer

A qualified personal trainer can help you safely start and maintain an effective exercise program. A personal trainer will understand your fitness goals and help you achieve them. Trainers can be a great source of motivation and encouragement, as well as a resource for the latest objective health and fitness information. A trainer can also help you fit exercise into your schedule and teach you how to make the most out of your time in the gym.

The title “personal trainer” does not guarantee that a person is qualified. Currently, there is no national standard or minimum requirement for personal trainers. Working with an underqualified trainer could jeopardize your safety. It is important to have the knowledge of what to look for when seeking a personal trainer that is educated, qualified a right fit for you!

"The title “personal trainer” does not guarantee that a person is qualified"

Locating a Personal Trainer

Begin by asking about personal trainers at your local health club or fitness facility. Many have in-house personal trainers you can use.

Certification and Education

  • Does the personal trainer hold a four- year degree from an accredited university in exercise science, kinesiology, exercise physiology, physical education or a related health-and-fitness field?
  • Does the personal trainer have additional training and a certification by a nationally recognized organization?
  • What continuing education is required to maintain the certification?
  • Is the trainer certified in first aid and CPR?
  • Does the trainer have liability insurance?

All certifications should be obtained from a nationally recognized organization and based on job-related performance criteria, which has been validated by scientific research in the field. Many certifying organizations do not comply with industry standards, so it is important to ask about the trainer’s educational background and professional certifications. Check to make sure the certification is from a credible and reputable organization.

Finding a Personal Trainer

  • Would you prefer a male or female trainer?
  • Do you like the trainer’s personality? Will he or she be a good fit for your personality and your fitness goals?
  • Is the trainer friendly and open to answering questions?
  • Does the trainer communicate well and explain exercises in a way that is easy to understand?
  • Will the trainer motivate you to exercise and make you want to continue your program?
  • Is the trainer sensitive to your needs?
  • Are you comfortable with the trainer?

Experience and References

  • How long has he or she been a personal trainer?
  • What types of clients does he or she regularly work with?
  • Can he or she provide you with an updated resume and references?
  • The trainer should have more education and experience than just having been a weightlifter, a body-builder or active in fitness.


  • What does the personal trainer charge?
  • How long is each session?
  • What services are included in the price?
  • Is there an additional gym membership fee?
  • Are there package or long-term package prices?
  • Does the trainer require you to sign a contract for long-term training?

The fees personal trainers charge may vary according to qualifications, experience, location, length of session and specialization of the workout. Some trainers will offer reduced hourly rates for long-term packages or prepaid sessions.

Safety and Pre-Activity Screening

  • The trainer should be able to provide information regarding potential risks associated with exercise.
  • The trainer should be able to respond to any reasonable and foreseeable emergency situation that threatens the safety of a client.
  • The trainer should ask specific questions, before the exercise program begins, about medical conditions, medications currently being taken, previous injuries and surgery as it relates to exercise, and aches and pains.
  • Every client should be screened before training to assess whether he or she has medical conditions or risk factors that should be addressed by a physician.
  • Every client should be offered a pre-activity screening and fitness evaluation that is appropriate for the activity he or she will perform.
  • The trainer should instruct you concerning the equipment use, safety aspects of the exercise, and physiological changes that are expected.
  • The trainer should assist you in developing realistic goals for the exercise program.
  • The trainer should provide fitness assessments related to the specific exercise program to be performed.
  • Periodic assessments should be done to determine your progress with the program.

Scheduling, Cancellation Policies & Business Practices

  • Is the trainer available to meet your schedule?
  • What is the cancellation policy?
  • Will you be charged if you do not cancel within a certain time frame?

Ask the trainer to provide you with a written copy of all policies on contracts, billing, scheduling and cancellations. Make sure the trainer has a good reputation, proper education and certification(s) and is well-respected by other trainers and clients.

Special Needs

Ask questions to see if a trainer can meet your needs regarding modification of equipment and programs.

Important Points to Remember

Ask questions so that you will have accurate information when making a decision. It can help you avoid making a wrong decision, which may end up costing you money. Selecting a professional and qualified personal trainer is a sound investment for your health. Staying Active Pays Off!

Reprinted with permission of the American College of Sports Medicine. Copyright © 2011 American College of Sports Medicine.

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