Health and fitness: Ask good questions when picking a personal trainer

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By Kent Pegg

Many who are just getting started or thinking about starting a workout program consider getting advice from a personal trainer.

Doing so ensures that you will get the most out of your exercise program and, even more importantly, allows you to address your health and fitness issues in a safe and effective environment.

The American Council on Exercise — which has been certifying personal trainers since 1985 and has over 40,000 certified professionals in 107 countries — has seven criteria you should consider before selecting a personal trainer.

Ask for references

An experienced trainer should be able to give you numerous references that you can contact to ask any questions you may have about the trainer. Ask if the trainer was prepared, professional and punctual.

Ask the prospective trainer for references from clients that have similar needs as you, such as age and health status. If someone like you has had a positive experience with a trainer, there’s a good chance you will too.

Talk to the trainer

Meet with the trainer to see what your impressions are. Do they seem interested in helping you? Do their methods and ideas seem to match yours? Do you think you could get along with this trainer?

It’s important that you like your trainer. The more you trust and get along with your trainer, the better the results you’ll achieve in the gym.

Working experience and area of               specialization

Find out how many clients visit your prospective trainer has and what kind of clients they have worked with. Experience is extremely important because a good trainer learns something from every client they see.

Many trainers see all clients as the same and put them on the same exercise programs. Each client is unique and needs to be treated that way, having their own particular issues taken into account when their program is designed.

Rates and services

Rates for personal training can vary considerably and often have nothing to do with the level of expertise and experience the trainer possesses. The price the trainer charges is the price they want, not necessarily what they’re worth.

Also, check to see what is included with the training sessions. You will want to have a large variety of strength, cardiovascular and other equipment available for your training sessions. That gives your trainer many options for designing the right workout program for you.


Education in the health and fitness world can come from many sources including certification, college courses, continuing education, lectures and seminars, and conferences.

Make sure the trainer you are considering is certified by a reputable certifying organization. Also, be sure your trainer is keeping up with current health and fitness information and is regularly attending training session themselves.

Liability insurance and business policies

Many independent trainers who are not associated with a fitness facility either have no insurance or are under-insured. Check to see that your potential trainer has adequate coverage.

Also, discuss cancellation policies with the trainer. Are you going to be charged if you are unable to make a training session? Will a session that a trainer misses be made up quickly? The more you know about your trainer at the beginning, the better.


Do you feel the trainer is available when you need them? If your schedule only allows you to train certain days of the week at certain times, you’ll need to make sure the trainer can be there for you.

Also, make sure that you and your trainer have compatible personalities. A trainer who screams in your face can be very off-putting to many clients. Seek to find a trainer that you like to be around.

So if you’re thinking about getting a trainer, take these items into consideration. By doing so you’ll make sure you get the most out of your fitness dollar and get the fitness results you’re looking for.

Kent Pegg is a certified personal trainer and the owner of Los Alamos Fitness Center.  For questions, call him at 662-5232.