Is a Personal Trainer Right for Me & What to Ask (Part 2)
When considering using a personal trainer, approach it as if you were interviewing someone for a position in your company or business. You are, after all, entrusting them to help you improve your overall health and fitness level. So, if you’ve decided to work with a fitness professional, and are armed with your goals in mind, there are 7 important questions you should ask before choosing one.
1. Are they certified through a nationally recognized organization?
This is the most important question to ask. Sadly, since the fitness profession is unregulated, there are people giving fitness advice and training with no credentials to do so. You want a trainer who has undergone an extensive certification process. The most reputable ones take months to study for and require a comprehensive exam process.
Some of the best certifying bodies include the American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM), National Academy of Sports Medicine (NASM), Athletics and Fitness Association of America (AFAA), and American Council on Exercise (ACE). While there are other organizations that certify, these are the most recognized and preferred certifications you should be looking for. ACSM and NASM follow a more scientific approach and typically have better results.
2. Do they have a higher education degree in a related field?
While this may not be a deciding factor on choosing the trainer to work with, individuals with college degrees in the related fields of exercise science, exercise physiology, human anatomy and physiology, rehabilitation, etc., have underwent years of study. They typically will have a better and more complete understanding of the human body, how the body reacts and adapts to exercise, and in determining the exercises that best meets your fitness needs and goals.
Whether many want to admit it or not, exercise is a science and there is a wealth of quality scientific research in the field. Therefore, it is worth considering a trainer with an undergraduate or graduate degree in an exercise science or related field.
3. What type of people do/have they worked with?
This helps you identify if the trainer will be a good fit for you. For example, if the trainer mainly works with body builders and you are a mom with 2 kids wanting to lose 20 pounds, they may not be the best choice. However, if they’ve worked with people like you, then they may be a good choice.
The important thing is that you need to be clear about what you are trying to achieve. Then, look for a trainer who either specializes in that, or has extensive experience working with others with similar goals as yours.
4. What type of success have they had with their clients?
In addition to the type of people they have worked with, it is a good idea to ask about their client success stories. In other words, ask them to tell you what their clients have achieved while working with them. A good trainer will have several success stories.
The reason this is a good question, is that it will provide insight into what is possible for you. Just be sure the successes they mention are pertinent to what you are trying to achieve.
5. What type of program will they design based upon your specific goals?
This helps give you a general sense of how they will approach your training. You are looking to see if they will be working with you on a comprehensive program, one that includes cardio, resistance, flexibility, balance, speed and agility and flexibility training, or any combination of these.
Your program does not have to include all of these types of training, but it does need to include the parts that are most important to reaching your goals. The trainer needs to be able to tell you what that encompasses.
6. What is their philosophy on training?
This question is geared towards determining if they will be a good fit for you on a more personal level. And while this can illicit many different answers, your goal is to determine if how they train fits into your goals, desires, capabilities, and how you like to be approached. For example, you might want to have fun exercising, yet expect to work hard. Or, you might enjoy a more disciplined approach, such that a trainer is more like a drill sergeant.
There are no right or wrong answers to this question. However, you are matching up their training philosophy with what best matches how you like to be approached and the personality you work best with. Thus, it is worth taking the time to find this out before deciding on a fitness trainer.
7. What are their expectations of you?
This is a very important question because it is about your personal responsibility. You need to know what the trainer expects from you, and determine if you can meet those expectations. It also establishes an understanding between you and the trainer. In this way, there are no surprises. The trainer knows what they are holding you accountable to, and more importantly, you know what you are holding yourself accountable to.
Not only does the trainer have to be good for you, you also need to be willing to do the work necessary to reach the goals you desire. What you do is 90% of the results you will achieve.
Lastly, you need to evaluate if you like the trainer’s personality, and whether you can work with and get along with them. It’s a bit like a relationship you want to take seriously. After all, it is about you and your health!