You made the decision to hire a Personal Trainer, but now you have the task of actually picking one. Where should you begin? And what should you look for?

A Personal Trainer should be certified through a reputable fitness organization and have the education necessary to help you achieve your fitness goals. Remember, this person's profession is to assess your fitness level, design a training program and keep you consistently motivated, so it is okay to do a little research and find the best person for you.

Qualifications to consider:


Your Personal Trainer should have several years of experience and even more importantly, that experience should be in relation to your fitness goals. If you want to shave a few strokes off your golf game, your Personal Fitness Trainer should possess sport-specific knowledge. On the other hand, if you are recovering from an injury, your Personal Trainer should be knowledgeable in rehabilitation and be willing to work with your doctor if necessary. Many Personal Trainers are experts in a multitude of areas, but you need to ask to be sure.


As mentioned above, a Personal Trainer should be certified through one of the reputable fitness organizations such as NASM, ISSA or ACSM (more certification information is below). Their certification should also be current. You may want to inquire about their college degree as well if an advanced degree is important to you.

CPR and/or First Aid

The Personal Trainer you hire should possess a certification in CPR and/or first aid. Most Personal Trainers will tell you upfront what certifications they have, if not, feel free to inquire.


Your Personal Trainer should be well groomed, fit, and be on time and ready to go at your scheduled appointment time. He/she should also do a thorough assessment of your health and goals prior to starting your program, and then continue to track your progress over time.


You may not consider this at first, but you will be spending time with this person while working closely on your fitness goals, so it will be important that you and your Personal Trainer are compatible. You want someone who listens to you, pays attention to your needs, provides constructive criticism when necessary, and honestly assesses your health and progress.

As far as certification goes, there is a difference between Personal Trainers that are just certified, and those that are certified and qualified to train. You want to consider both the experience the Personal Trainer has, and the type of certification he/she has received.

Legitimate Personal Training Certification Companies:

  • National Academy of Sports Medicine (NASM)
  • Aerobics and Fitness Association of America (AFAA)
  • American Fitness Professional and Associates (AFPA)
  • International Sports Sciences Association (ISSA)
  • American Council on Exercise (ACE)
  • American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM)
  • National Strength and Conditioning Association (NSCA)


Ask your Personal Trainer which certifications he/she currently possesses and if those certifications are current. You can do additional research on each certification agency to familiarize yourself with the accreditation process. Keep in mind that in addition to the certification, you may want to ask for personal references from other satisfied clients.

Cost Considerations:

For each session, expect to pay between $30 to $100 or more depending on whether your Personal Trainer is employed by a local gym or community center, or is private and carries his/her own overhead and insurance. Years of experience will also affect the cost of your session; more experience will usually cost more hourly. Buying a package or a series of sessions is usually more cost effective and is often the way to go if you are new to working out or have a long-term fitness goal.

On the flip side, as with all professions, Personal Training has its share of unqualified people that should not be training anyone.

Be cautious of a Personal Trainer that carries out any of the following:

  • Trains you so hard that you're in pain for days. Some soreness is normal, but you should still be able to move.
  • Recommends a level of training that is too difficult for you.
  • Ignores your questions and/or you.
  • Doesn't remember your specific health problem or injury after the initial consultation. For example, you shouldn't have to repeatedly remind your Personal Trainer that you had back surgery.
  • Suggests or demands that you take medications, supplements or herbs without speaking to your doctor first.
  • Makes personal phone calls while you are in session or answers the phone (unless it is an emergency).
  • Converses with other clients or Personal Trainers while you are training.
  • Doesn't return emails or phone calls.

A Personal Trainer should pay attention to you; correct your alignment, explain what muscles you're working and why, and be there to guide you through a fitness program. It's your body, time, and money, so you have the right to get what you want; a qualified Personal Trainer will understand that.

In return, be courteous and respectful of your Personal Trainer by showing up on time, saving personal phone calls till after your session, bringing your own water and towel, and listening to instructions without interrupting. This should be a rewarding time for you; ensure your Personal Trainer is qualified and experienced so you can build a relationship and reap the benefits of health and fitness. Good luck!