How to Evaluate a Personal Trainer – 27 Questions and Considerations

Female Trainer Talking With Client At Crossfit Gym

When seeking out a personal trainer, it is necessary for potential clients to feel confident that they will be training with the best fit. Below are questions or considerations for those seeking personal training coaches to ask before making a commitment to work with a personal trainer.

Potential clients should not be afraid to ask questions that any qualified trainer understand, even if the topic feels unfamiliar. The candidate should convey their own sense of understanding of the subject; the interviewer can jot down notes and, research it later if necessary. It is well within the rights of a potential paying client to interview a professional on their expertise, methods, and personal fit, especially when possibly entrusting fitness programming, nutrition advice, and wellness guidance to this personal trainer. You or your trainer should be able to answer YES to the following…

Questions to Evaluate a Personal Trainer

  1. Are they certified as a personal trainer? And are their credentials current?
  2. Are they familiar with functional training (i.e. training according to daily activities, or according to a specific goal)?
  3. Do they have a background in fitness and a passion for health and wellness?
  4. Do they seem to encourage health and wellness yet over aesthetics and vanity?
  5. Can they explain what they are going to do in an exercise program and how it will benefit you?
  6. Do they talk about the different kinds and benefits of training methods (i.e. cardio vs. resistance)?
  7. Were they thorough about your medical history and/or concerns?
  8. Did they discuss and/or perform basic strength exercises and flexibility assessments to test and evaluate you? (Or do they intend to?)
  9. Have they discussed the importance of flexibility, mobility, and range of motion?
  10. Do they have a basic understanding of nutrition?
  11. Do they have a deeper understanding of core programming (beyond doing a plank)?
  12. Will your training consist of more free weights than machines? Does your trainer explain why this is important?
  13. Do they take notes and keep a record of your performance?
  14. Are you being warmed up in the beginning and stretched at the end?
  15. Does your trainer change the routine appropriately?
  16. Does your trainer properly demonstrate and explain what you’re expected to do?
  17. Does your trainer mix it up (i.e. balance boards, swiss balls, medicine balls, and challenged environments)?
  18. Does your trainer explain the significance of specific training methods and/or exercises?
  19. Does your trainer discuss imbalances and what exercises can be utilized to make corrections?
  20. If you feel pain in places that you should not, like your knees, low back and neck, does your trainer change or modify the exercise?
  21. Do you understand what you are doing while you train?
  22. If you have trained with your trainer for more than 6 weeks, have you seen/felt results?
  23. Do you feel like you are working various body parts/muscles and not just the same all the time?
  24. Are you setting goals with your trainer?
  25. Are you talking about you and your needs?
  26. Are you getting undivided attention while you are training with your trainer?
  27. Do you feel comfortable with your trainer when working one-on-one?

Female Trainer Talking With Client At Crossfit Gym

If you answered no to any of these questions, then your trainer may be lacking key knowledge or he/she may need to work to communicate these things better with you. It’s an opportunity to address and explore any of your concerns. Ask the questions and if you are not satisfied with the answers then maybe this trainer is not a good fit for you.

Sometimes, the personal training client is not aware of what a good trainer should know and they may simply trust the gym or studio to provide a knowledgeable trainer. But the onus is ultimately placed on the consumer to protect themselves. This is where research, questions, and gut instinct come in. For your own best interest and for the sake of your own fitness programming, communicate concerns and ask questions that merit answers. If you want the most out of what you are paying for, then put the effort in to assure that you’re getting it. A qualified fitness professional will understand everything listed above, at the very least.

It is important that you research the trainers’ certification and check to make sure they are currently certified by at least one accredited certification program, this may include National Federation of Professional Trainers (NFPT). But it is also important to understand that certifications and degrees, though important, do not mean everything. The person is not the paper, but a passion for their trade is part of the person. You can tell right off the people who have a passion for what they do, now it is up to you to test the knowledge and to be comfortable with the choice you’ve made in your certified personal trainer.

About

Charles DeFrancesco, NFPT, USAW, NASM, CES President & CEO of THE ARENA, Owner of Fit and Functional Charles DeFrancesco is the owner and founder of the education company, Fit and Functional. He is also a consulting partner for THE ARENA. He provides all in-house education to THE ARENA staff. Charles was co-founder of Greenwich Sports Medicine, where he was in charge of all personal training and therapy operations for over five years. Currently Charles is a consultant for Westchester Sports and Wellness and Phoenix Fitness. He is certified by the National Academy of Sports Medicine (NASM) and by the National Federation of Professional Trainers (NFPT). He is also USAW Olympic lifting certified and Equinox Fitness Group Prenatal certified. Charles has completed specialty courses for Functional Exercise Specialist, Cardiac Conditions (AFPA), attended EFTI, and has over 10 years of clinical experience.
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