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How to Choose a Personal Trainer

Choosing a personal trainer who has the ability and the skill set to achieve your health and fitness goals is a daunting task and one you should not take lightly. If you Google the question "How do I choose a personal trainer?" you can expect to find endless opinions, advice and information on the subject.  We've tried to boil it down into some shorter more digestible chunks of information that will give you cause to take your time and think through your own selection process.  Good luck!


Step One


The yellow pages are not necessarily where you start your hunt for a personal trainer.  Your best bet is to ask your friends, neighbors and co-workers.  You'll often find that the guy or gal you are looking for is not advertising on a main street bill board.  Why?  They don't need to.  Their work speaks for itself. That's who you are looking for.


Step Two


Meet with your prospective trainer.  Take time to sit down and have a casual conversation (maybe over coffee) with your prospective new torture administer. There will be plenty of time for workouts.  Here are some questions and answers you may want to consider.


Question:  Tell me about your training and education.

Answer:  He or she doesn’t need to have ten certifications and a Master’s in Kinesiology to provide you the experience and results you are after.  At a bare minimum, your new trainer should have:

•   a current personal training certification

•   adequate liability insurance 

•   and be CPR certified.  

Anything more is a bonus but not necessarily an indication of more value or of his or her ability to deliver improved service.  However at the same time, don't dismiss the effort and sacrifice necessary to build the ol' resume.  There is real value in the time and effort an individual puts in to hone his or her craft.


Question:   How much experience do you have personal training?

Answer:  The more the better.  Let's put it like this who would you prefer to hire, an attorney straight out of law school with one year of experience or an individual with twenty plus years of time in the trenches?  It is not always the case (there are exceptions to every rule) but by and large, experience counts... BIG time.  


Question:  Tell me about your own fitness.  Have you lost weight?  Been a competitive athlete?  How often do you workout?  What kind of a program do you follow?

Answer:   Your trainer should be in shape.  No they don't need to look like Arnold Schwarzenegger, but he or she should definitely look like they practice (to some degree) what they preach.  Establishing and maintaining the lifestyle of health and fitness is hard, real hard.  You need someone that has been down that road, on that road, taken every turn and therefore can help you successfully navigate the journey.


Question:   How much do you charge? 

Answer:   Shouldn't be dirt cheap or off the charts expensive.  You want a trainer that charges fair rates based on the geographic area he or she is in, level of education, training and experience.  In the Midwest, that is $35.00 to $75.00 an hour. 


Question:   How did you come to the profession of personal trainer?

Answer:   This is a good one.  This type of question will lead you into a lot of conversation and help you get a solid glimpse of this person’s character, motivations, mindset, and personal fitness experience.  


Question:  Can you provide me a copy of your rules, regulations and /or expectations?

Answer:  The answer is, "Yes, I can."  You should have a clear understanding of your trainer’s procedure when things happen like... "What happens if my alarm doesn't go off?  Am I charged?"  "What if I am sick?" " I am leaving town unexpectedly, how soon do I need to let you know I will be cancelling sessions?" Your trainer should have a firm grasp on dealing with all these type of little issues that will invariably raise their head.


Step Three


Once you select your trainer, you want a plan based on the realistic goals you and your trainer have set.  Those goals could be weight loss, better cardio conditioning, bigger "pipes" (arms) and/or just wanting to feel better, whatever, point is; your trainer should construct and explain to you a plan devised to achieve your ambitions.  There should be set objectives and measurable goals.


Step Four


Start kickin' butt and taking names!  You've just embarked on an exciting journey. Enjoy the ride!