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 you (as a potential client) to feel confident that you will be training with the right person for you. Below are questions or considerations for you to ask and evaluate before making a commitment to a personal trainer. If there are some of these on this list which have not been addressed by your trainer directly, then ask him/her the question. Don’t be afraid to engage on a level that they will (should) understand, even if you don’t. You will be able to sense the understanding that your training has for the subject, and, if you need to, you can research it later…but don’t be hesitant to ask and learn from the person who you will be entrusting your fitness programming to. You or your trainer should be able to answer YES to the following…

Personal Trainer Questions and Considerations

  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 encourage health and wellness over looks 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?
  9. Have they discussed the importance of flexibility and range of motion?
  10. Do they have a basic understanding of nutrition?
  11. Does your trainer talk about the core? Do they understand 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? Do they keep 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 periodically?
  16. Does your trainer demonstrate and explain?
  17. Does you 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. Ask the questions and if you are not satisfied with the answer then maybe this trainer is not a good fit for you. Sometimes, the general public 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 there is some reasonable responsibility of consumers to protect themselves as well… this is where research and questions come in. For your own best interest and for the sake of your own fitness programming, ask. 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. Happy training!


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.