6 Questions to Ask Your Personal Trainer

Investing time researching your new trainer is time well spent. Most of us will shop around for a doctor, a dentist, a chiropractor, or a therapist, but when it comes to finding a place to workout we spend time exploring the facilities but forget to ask about the quality of the coaches. You’ll spend more time with your trainer than you would with any of the health professionals mentioned above. Along with the questions below, asking family and friends for references will give you a head start on finding a trainer you can trust and commit too.

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1. Do they have an accredited certification (NASM, NSCA, ACSM, ACE), personal trainer’s insurance, and are they CPR certified?

– Do these things mean they’ll be competent or the right fit for you? No. But it does show they have acquired and completed the minimal requirements to being considered a professional.

2. Is this their career, or is it a job?

– When you talk to potential trainers, does it seem like something where they’re in it for the long run? Do they attend continuing education courses? Did they get their degree in exercise science or kinesiology? Do they have an intake process? Did they do an assessment before giving you a program? If they’re in it just because they like working out while they’re trying to get a “real” job, this is someone I would question working with.

3. Do they have a philosophy?

– Your trainer should be able to describe what it’s they do like an elevator pitch. “My training encompasses soft tissue & mobility work, a movement based warm up, full body strength training & power exercises that are progressed properly for you and your goals, and ends with conditioning. My jobs are to 1. reduce the chance of injury and 2. performance. Performance is many different things to many different people.” After hearing their thought process, you’ll have a very good idea if their training style is what you’re looking for.

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4. Are they busy?

– If I needed to get back surgery, I’d want the doc who’s booked out months in advance and does 8 of them a day. Not the doc who can get me in tomorrow and does one a week. Look for the same in a trainer.

5. Do they do the workouts they’re putting you through?

– If your trainer has never performed the workout you’re doing, there’s no way for them relate to what you’re going through or gauge the difficulty. And can they explain WHY they’ve selected each exercise and how it’s going to help you get where you’d like to go? Do your workouts build off of the last one or does every workout seem to be patched together at the last minute? I can’t trust a trainer who can’t competently do the exercises they’re asking me to do. There are always exceptions to the rule, but would you want someone teaching you how to skydive who’s never jumped out of a plane before? Probably not.


6. Do you enjoy being around this person for an hour?

– As much as training is about writing up workouts and teaching you exercises, your time is precious. This trainer is someone you could potentially spend 2 to 5 hours of your week with. Is your trainer a nice person? Are they well mannered? Do they dress like you would expect fitness professional to dress? How do they act around their coworker? Are they positive? Do they ask you how you’re doing? Are they on time? Anyone I meet in my personal life that I may be spending a considerable amount of time with I ask myself “is this someone who I’d like to go and have a beer with?” You’re not looking for a new best friend by any means, but if liking the person means you’ll be more consistent, that’s someone worth paying for their expertise.

This article was written by Movement As Medicine co-owner and CFSC Coach Brendon Rearick. He can be contacted at brendonrearick@gmail.com