If you’re starting an exercise regimen, or just want to add variety, challenge and motivation to your existing routine, consider working with a personal trainer. These fitness professionals can create customized programs based on your fitness level, availability and goals – and provide the guidance and accountability to keep you sweating safely and consistently.
Whether you’re working out at home or at the gym, you can schedule sessions with a trainer online or in-person. Your health club can connect you with a fitness professional, or you can check with your local park district or college or university. You also can find certified trainers in your area through the American Council on Exercise (ACE) or IDEA Health & Fitness Association.
Having the right fit is important for this relationship and your ultimate success. Here are some important considerations when choosing the best personal trainer for you.
Choosing the Best Personal Trainer
- Credentials and Experience – Professional trainers should have accredited certifications that demonstrate basic knowledge and competence. Some of the best are the National Academy of Sports Medicine, the American College of Sports Medicine, ACE and the National Strength and Conditioning Association. Many trainers will hold more than one certification, or will have earned specialty certificates for additional in-depth education.
An academic degree or coursework in exercise physiology or exercise science adds value. And, of course, you want to vet trainers based on their experience. If you’re preparing to run a marathon, don’t hire a trainer that specializes in older populations or those with chronic disease conditions. Or if you are dealing with a condition like osteoporosis, ensure that you choose a trainer who is equipped to address your issue.
- Style – Do you have a preference of male or female? What motivates you better – an in-your-face drill sergeant barking orders or a more laid-back, cheerleader approach? Do you want someone who is all business, or a person who you can chat with and share more conversation? Ask trainers about how they work to assess their style, or request references and inquire about their experiences.
- Program options – If you’re hiring a trainer to work with you at home, will he/she bring equipment or expect you to have it? For a virtual training session, what accessories will you need to complete the workouts? Will your trainer work with you outside for sessions, or must all routines be in the gym?
Is a fitness assessment included as part of your training, and how will progress be measured? Will the trainer create a comprehensive program that you can follow during workouts on your own, or simply lead you through routines when you’re together? Can you request a complete cardio, strength and flexibility program?
Does the trainer integrate with wearables and apps or utilize other programs to deliver workouts or track and analyze your progress? Also, can the trainer recommend a dietitian, massage therapist or chiropractor, if you may want those at some point?
Finally, does the trainer offer more than just one-on-one sessions? Could you schedule workouts with a buddy or become part of a small group session or class if necessary?
Lastly, availability is critical, of course. If you want to work out in early mornings, don’t consider a trainer who is only open during evenings. Make sure in advance that your schedules match.
- Cost – Request information on pricing for single sessions or packages of multiple workouts. Some trainers may offer a discount for cash payments or EFT, or for paying upfront for months of appointments. A higher rate doesn’t necessarily mean a better trainer, so shop around to find a professional that accommodates your budget.