A personal trainer can be a fantastic way to help guide you towards your fitness and/or weight loss goals.
The problem is that there are hundreds to choose from in some places.
Here are some things to look for when hiring a personal trainer.
Genuineness/Passion for Helping
Above knowledge and experience, a true desire to help others must be alive and well in your prospective trainer. This will be evident from the get-go and should permeate in the sessions. Like any other professional, you want somebody who is genuinely interested in helping you achieve your goals.
Personal training is a largely unregulated industry. Virtually anybody can call themselves a “Personal Trainer” and not have to answer to any governing body as would a doctor, registered dietician or physiotherapist. Ask for qualifications. A degree/diploma in a health-related field such as kinesiology or exercise science is always a plus. Additionally, look for your trainer to be certified by a reputable organization such as ACSM, ACE, ISSA, NSCA, NASM or a recognized state or provincial (in Canada) body.
This is what will separate a so-so trainer from an excellent trainer. While a University education and certifications are great, it should be merely the beginning of a never-ending educational journey. Be sure whomever you choose is well-versed in the latest research on exercise and nutrition. You want somebody who is dedicated to constant improvement – especially in an industry that is ever-changing.
Look for a trainer with a minimum of 1-2 year of training experience under their belt. More experience is better, but also look for someone whose experience is applicable to your circumstances. If you have injuries for example, be sure your prospective trainer is well-versed in post-rehab exercise.
Other Things to Ask
- Do they offer a complementary session to meet/set goals?
- Do they perform an assessment? Ask specifically if your trainer performs a postural assessment and movement screen as a minimum. The trainer should know to use the data to put together a program.
- What will a typical session look like?
- What kind of plan will I be on?
- What is the cancellation policy?
A note on cost
Costs for personal training vary greatly. Look to spend anywhere from $50-$85/hr. If they charge less than this, you need to wonder why – it may be a red flag. Conversely, charging over $90/session is outrageous and in almost all cases unjustifiable. “Because that’s what people will pay” is not reason enough to charge that much.
A note on personality
This is important and can be overlooked. Even if your trainer is highly educated, experienced, and effective – some personalities simply do not mesh. Look for someone you connect well with and whose style works well with your personality. Some people like the task master/drill sergeant while others prefer a more gentle approach.