Hiring a personal trainer is an important, and sometimes tricky, decision. On one hand, you want to find someone who has a personality you find agreeable, because you will be spending a lot of one-on-one time with your trainer. Personality includes their style of training-are they a quiet coaxer, or a drill sergeant? Is that compatible with your personality and what you respond best to?
On the other hand, you want someone who knows what they’re doing, regardless of how well you like them. There is no governmental regulation on personal trainers; no licensure is required and there are no minimum legal standards. In other words, anyone can say they are a personal trainer and charge people money for training, whether or not they actually have any knowledge or experience. You should at least determine whether your trainer is certified-this is not a guarantee they know what they’re doing, but it’s the best you can do-and make sure they carry liability insurance. Ask about their education; many certifications do not require a college degree, but of course a trainer with a degree in a human performance-related discipline will have a better knowledge base. Also ask about experience; if you are a housewife in your mid 50’s and you are interviewing a trainer who has only ever worked with high school athletes, that might not be the best trainer for you. It would also be nice if the trainer had some references you could check, such as current or former employers or clients.
As far as what you should expect, the short answer is professionalism. This includes being on time and having a comprehensive, pre-planned workout routine ready for you. One of my biggest pet peeves with trainers is that they don’t write anything down! Can you imagine going to a doctor or physical therapist who didn’t make written entries into your medical chart? How could they possibly give you the best possible care if they tried to go from memory? The same holds true for trainers. How will you ever know if you are making progress if nothing is ever written down? Many, if not most, personal trainers “wing it” in the gym, making up the routine as they go on the spur of the moment. The training session becomes no more productive than playing in the playground during recess.
Don’t let this happen to you. Demand the most for your money by finding a professional, well-educated trainer who comes prepared with a written, individualized program for you and has a personality that meshes well with your own. The time you spend sifting and sorting until you find this trainer will be well worth it.