How to Hire a Qualified
by Scott White ©2004
Personal Power Training
How to Hire a Qualified
Health and fitness are among the trendier topics
of the day — and people are spending more money than ever to achieve them. One
question, though, is whether the investment in a personal trainer is worth the
money. If you have specific fitness goals that you are not meeting on your own,
a personal trainer may be well worth the investment. We generally don’t try to
provide our own medical care, repair our own cars, or handle our own legal
matters. Unless we are uniquely qualified, we hire professionals to do those
things for us. Hiring a trainer is no different. And consider this fact: on
average, people who hire personal trainers increase their income by $7,000
within a year of hiring the trainer.
So what is the first step to finding a qualified
personal fitness trainer? Start by asking around. Ask the people you know who
work with trainers. Check the phone book. Inquire at your gym. Check the
listings in fitness magazines.
But getting referrals is only the first step.
Next, you must do some research and interview prospective trainers. Trainers’
fees run anywhere from $40 to $300 per hour, so you want to be sure you’re
hiring a qualified expert who will actually provide good advice and training in
exchange for your financial investment. As with most things, you get what you
pay for — so you don’t want to go with the least expensive person just because
they are affordable. But likewise, a high fee does not automatically make
someone qualified. Make sure you ask as many questions as necessary to determine
that the person you hire is knowledgeable and will be able to help you achieve
your specific weight and fitness goals.
Things to Look For in a
§ Check their credentials. You want
a trainer with a degree in health, nutrition, Kinesiology, biomechanics or
§ Look for personal training
certifications. These are some of the better ones:
Developed by Paul Chek – Corrective High-Performance Exercise Kinesiologist
(NOTE: This would be my recommended certification to look for, as I
regard them as the best for information and education in this field.)
NASM – National Academy of Sports Medicine http://www.nasm.org
NSCA – National Strength and Conditioning Association
– International Sports Sciences Association – a very good certification for a
beginning trainer http://www.issaonline.com
§ Some less impressive
CSCS – Offered by NSCA – Certified
Strength and Conditioning Specialist – a very good accreditation, but also
ACSM – great for clinical work,
but not very practical in real life http://www.acsm.org
ACE – avoid this one. The trainer
doesn’t really have to prove any knowledge about training to obtain this
§ Make sure the certifications are
current and that the trainer is knowledgeable about the latest trends in the
fields of nutrition, fitness and health. Good trainers continuously educate
themselves by reading books about diet, nutrition, exercise, health, sleep and
any other topics related to the human body and its functions.
§ One note about certifications:
There are many trainers without certifications or degrees (or whose
certifications are not the best ones) who are still extremely qualified.
However, it is important to determine their level of expertise and education. I
sell a sample test you may give a prospective trainer to help determine whether
they meet the same criteria a certified trainer should meet.
§ Be certain that the trainer is
up-to-date on CPR and first aid.
§ Determine that the trainer has a
willingness to learn and is open to new ideas in training and nutrition. Avoid
anyone with a one-size-fits-all approach. Every person’s psychology,
biochemistry, muscle imbalances, hormones, etc. are unique and react
differently. You want a program that is tailored to your specific body type and
weight or training goals.
§ The trainer should have a good
physique and they should have their own fitness goals. The trainer should most
definitely practice what they preach.
§ Ask for testimonials and
references regarding their training background.
Things a Qualified Personal
Trainer Should Offer
§ Professionalism. Your trainer
should have an attitude of professionalism at all times. They must be on time,
awake, and giving you their 100 percent undivided attention during your
scheduled session. Run, don’t walk, from any trainer who makes or takes phone
calls, talks to friends or gives you less than their full attention during your
session. If your trainer works at a gym, determine whether this is their career
— or if they are simply working there for the free gym membership.
§ Motivation. A key role of the
trainer is that they motivate you. This is largely what you are paying them for.
Face it. If you could motivate yourself to do this work on your own, you
wouldn’t need a trainer. Still, your trainer should not be a commanding drill
sergeant — they should offer an appropriate balance between motivation and
§ Accountability. Another part of
the trainer’s job is to keep you accountable. The trainer should hold you
responsible for being on time, or canceling with advance notice. If you arrive
for your session 15 minutes late or you cancel without 24 hours’ notice, you
will be charged. As the client, it is your job to keep your word and to allow
the trainer to get you results. This means you must arrive on time and ready to
§ Energy. Your trainer should be
upbeat and energetic. If they don’t have any energy, how can they possibly get
you fired up to work out and sweat?
§ Results. A trainer’s primary job
is to help you obtain RESULTS. If you listen to your trainer and follow their
advice, and you still are not happy with your results or the way you feel, fire
them and hire another trainer. However, if you don’t listen to your trainer, you
cannot fault them if you do not achieve results.
§ Focus on your health. Your health
should be your trainer’s priority even if getting fit isn’t your first
priority. Whether you’re training for a marathon or trying to achieve a body
builder’s physique, your trainer must keep your health at the forefront of their
§ Success. The trainer must be
committed to your success, sometimes even more committed to it than you are.
§ Training sessions. Your trainer
may offer a variety of packages, including buddy, family, group and corporate
sessions. Do not hesitate to ask for what you want from your trainer.
Things Quality Fitness
Training Should Include
§ Measurements. Before you begin a
fitness program, measurements should be taken of body fat, weight,
circumferences, and blood pressure. Tests should be done to determine postural
analysis and muscle imbalances. Progress must be tracked.
§ A PAR-Q (Physical Activity
Readiness Questionnaire) should be administered and a medical history taken, so
the trainer is aware of any physical conditions that could inhibit your training
or potentially injure you. The trainer must know beforehand of any and all
medical conditions and medications in order to address your personal health
concerns and keep your safety a number one priority.
§ One-hour sessions, three times a
week. For the most efficient training, sessions should last one hour and include
warm-up, weight training (the best bang for your buck for fat loss and muscle
gain), stretching, and cool-down. Your trainer should recommend three sessions a
week to achieve your ultimate fitness goals. If you work out only once a week,
you cannot expect quick or quality results. (In the event that you only
are able to work with a trainer one time per week, it will become your
responsibility to work out the other two times a week on your own. But don’t try
to fool yourself. If you know you won’t work out on your own, make the
investment to work three times a week with a trainer.)
§ Workout log. Your trainer must
record everything you do with them. Records are extremely important for the
trainer, as they will track your progress and success.
§ Variety. You should never have to
do the same boring workout all the time. If that is the case, get a new trainer.
Your trainer should be smart enough to design innovative programs to keep you
motivated. That is a key aspect of their job.
§ Undivided attention. You, the
client, should be the most important person in your trainer’s life for the
length of your session. You deserve their undivided attention and utmost
§ Sweat. Working out isn’t supposed
to be easy, but neither is it supposed to kill someone. Your trainer should push
you as close to the edge as possible — and, yes, you should work up a healthy
sweat in every workout. Remember, you can’t get fit without getting funky.
However, some workout days will be lighter than others because no one can
achieve peak performance everyday. It is up to your trainer to get the most out
of you every time they work with you.
§ Proper form. During a session,
your posture and biomechanics should be more important to the trainer than being
a rep-counting cheerleader. You, the client, should count the reps while your
trainer watches carefully to make sure you are performing the exercises properly
and corrects any deviations in your form.
§ Directives for times outside the
training sessions. In addition to one-on-one training, your trainer must
recommend a proper meal plan and encourage you to perform regular cardiovascular
exercise to help burn those extra calories and shed those extra layers of fat.
Things You Should Bring to
Your Training Regimen
§ Specific goals. Ask your trainer
to help you clarify and prioritize your fitness goals. Make sure your trainer is
willing to help you achieve them in the most efficient way possible.
§ Be willing to work. Don’t hire a
trainer and then simply go through the motions. Listen carefully and follow your
trainer’s advice. (A note to trainers: If your client doesn’t listen to what you
say, FIRE them, because they will only discredit you and your reputation. You
might hesitate to terminate a client relationship because you feel bad or you
need the money, but continuing to work with them will only hinder your long-term
§ Ask questions. If you don’t
understand something, ask your trainer about it. That’s why they’re there. And
above all, make sure you ask for what you want.
§ Most importantly be honest with
yourself and your trainer. If you didn’t do your cardio or eat correctly that
week, be honest. The trainer knows you’re human, and that you will likely have
lapses. Remember, if you could do it alone, you wouldn’t have hired someone to
coach you in the first place. It doesn’t help either of you in reaching your
goals if you lie or try to cover up. Your trainer will know you’re lying anyway
if you are not getting in better shape, you’re not losing body fat, or your
stamina is not improving. Your trainer is not necessarily responsible for your
lack of progress — this is a two-way street.
§ Note: Lack of results when you are
working diligently and following all of your trainer’s instructions could be an
indicator that their methods or eating plans are misguided or uninformed. Use
your discretion — and get a new trainer if the lack of progress continues even
after you’ve shared your concerns with your trainer.
Things to Avoid
§ Glitz and glamour. Don’t hire
someone simply because they (or their studio) look good. Make sure they can back
up their appearance with knowledge and expertise.
§ Steroids, diuretics, and any other
harmful drugs. A trainer should promote health and fitness. Drugs of any kind do
not belong in your body. Don’t train with a big, buff guy (a muscle-head) just
because they look the part. Their appearance alone doesn’t mean they know
anything about proper training methods. Investigate a trainer’s background and
personal training history before you hire them.
Remember, hiring a personal trainer is an
intuitive process that is unique to each individual. Continue to interview
people until you feel confident you’ve found a trainer who will be able to help
you meet your personal fitness goals.
Ask for references and check with the trainer’s current clients to determine
whether they enjoy working with that person. Ask the trainer as many questions
as it takes to help you gauge how compatible you are with them. The training
relationship is a unique partnership — and for maximal success, you need to find
the best partner possible.
is a certified personal trainer and nutritionist located in Scottsdale.
For more information about nutrition and fitness or to inquire about a
Assessment, call or e‑mail Scott today. 480.628.1607 or firstname.lastname@example.org
Scott White is a certified nutritionist and personal trainer. He is an Kinesiologist and his credentials include a BS in
Kinesiology from Arizona State University and International Sports Science
Association certification. He also is CPR and First Aid certified.
Since 1998, Scott has been training and providing nutritional guidance for
optimal results to clients including:
Annett Davis and Jenny Jordan from
the Olympic Beach Volleyball Team and other professional volleyball players
Lucia Rijker, women's boxing
Freddie Mitchell, Philadelphia
Eagles and UCLA football player
Many other professional athletes,
actors, directors and producers