Hiring a Personal Trainer? Ask These Questions First

personal trainer working with clientPersonal trainers are everywhere. You can find them in your neighborhood gym, on the road going from client to client, online or through a friend. They come with different experiences, backgrounds and specialties.  With so many personal trainers and options, how to do you find the right one for your needs? And finding the right personal trainer is critical to your success, after all they will be one of the primary forces driving you towards your fitness and health goals. So, asking the right questions during your selection process will help you identify the right trainer.

Before hiring a trainer, shortlist a few potential candidates and ask these questions during your selection process:

How long have you been training others?

Obvious question, but very often it’s not asked.  A fancy website, flashy graphics, long list of certifications and a very fit trainer tends to create a perception of years of experience.  I’m not suggesting that personal trainers with a very short experience aren’t good, some rookies are very talented; but an answer to this question will put the rest of their answers into perspective.

What kind of training do you specialize in?

If you have a specific goal to reach or an injury to rehabilitate it’s important to find someone who can help you get there. If you’re training for an obstacle course, you wouldn’t want a trainer specializing in competition prep. You’ll miss the experience, expertise and genuine interest.  Find someone who’s been there and done that.

What is your training philosophy?

There’s no right or wrong answer here. Their philosophy should match up with yours. Do a gut check. Ask yourself, does this trainer makes sense? Or does it all sound wishy washy hocus pocus?  They should be able to answer it without hesitation as it will reveal their true fitness philosophy.  Dancing around the question and tell you what you want to hear is a red flag.

What kind of results have you achieved for others?

They should be able to share their clients’ success stories.  If something sounds too good to be true, it most likely is. Listen for realistic results.  Realistic results take the a lot more effort and dedication from both the client and the trainer.  You will also get a sense of trainer’s work ethic and dedication to their craft.

Do you have any testimonials?

The trainer may already have posted some on her website, blog, or even a facebook fan page, but there might be a full length reference letters in the files somewhere. Some clients prefer not have their letters posted but only shared upon request. Also, ask if the trainer would be able to share their client’s contact number so that you could hear their testimonial first hand. If you’re going to hire this trainer, you might as well do proper reference checks.

How many long term clients do you have?

Finding clients is the easy part, keeping them is hard as most people usually sign up for 3 or 6 months. Long term clients are also a great indication of trainer’s service quality and results they’re able to produce and keep clients motivated.

Can you guarantee my results?

This question qualifies as a trick question. If the trainer says ‘Yes’ immediately, its a red flag. No trainer can guarantee results. The correct answer should start with ‘It depends’ because there so many variables that can drive the results.  If you train just once a week with your trainer and do nothing for the rest of the 6 days you’re not gonna drop 10 pounds in a month.  Results guarantee should come with some qualifiers.  Instead of giving a definite guarantee, the trainer should be able to explain and set a realistic strategy to help you reach your goals in a safe and healthy way.  Also, the trainer is not with you 24/7 so a lot of your success will depend on what you do when you’re not training with your personal trainer.

Are you insured and certified?

Many people forget to ask this as well. Just because the trainer you’re talking to has washboard abs doesn’t mean he’s qualified to teach. Make sure your trainer has valid accreditation, proper training and is insured.

How do you keep up with fitness knowledge?

We don’t know everything about the human body, especially about it’s processes, why they do what they do and how it all happens. But scientists, doctors and researchers are getting close. New discoveries and research is always coming out and challenging previous findings.  Staying on top of the flow of new information is not as hard as it used to be. You can set up an RSS reader, attend conferences or earn continuing education credits.  Professional personal trainers are always looking to improve themselves and their clients. Looks for a personal trainer that finds time to better herself and stays up to date with her training and knowledge.

If you’re satisfied with the answers above you can move onto the logistics and admin types of questions such as availability, price, payment options, etc. If you really like your top choice you’ll find a way to make the logistics work.