How To Hire a Personal Trainer

The Ten Questions You Should Ask

Surveys have shown that people who work with personal trainers are more likely to be successful in their fitness goals. In the same way that you would hire a ski instructor to teach you how to ski, or a golf pro to help you with your swing, if you want to maximize your fitness, personal trainers are the go-to experts.

Like other allied health professionals, personal trainers provide a service based on their combined education and experience. Because personal trainers are a largely unregulated group, hiring a personal trainer is a “buyer-beware” process where the consumer must know what to ask and expect.

Here are ten questions you can ask to help you make the best decision possible:

Are you certified?  Certification is the minimum specific competency that a trainer must possess. The certification exam should contain a variety of question formats (i.e. not just multiple choice) and must include a live, practical evaluation of their abilities.

Do you attend continuing education events to maintain your certification? Quality certifications are maintained through continuing education. Regardless of the scope of the original certification, the new approaches to fitness offered at these events ensure the trainer will stay current.

How long have you been working as a personal trainer? Along with their education, a personal trainer who has worked with many clients can probably explain concepts completed before or during your first session.

What is your area of expertise? If your personal trainer works exclusively with bodybuilders and you want a program to help you achieve your goal of completing a marathon, he or she may not be your best choice.  Work with someone who knows how to help you achieve your goals.

Do you have a network of allied health professionals with whom you work? Remember that no one is an expert at everything. Much as your family doctor will refer you to a specialist, a good personal trainer will have a network of professionals they can refer you to if you need them.

What is your philosophy of fitness and personal training?  The trainer’s answer will give you a sneak peek into whether or not you will have good chemistry with them, which makes a big difference in the long term to your trust in them and their ability to inspire you.

What are your business policies? The personal trainer should provide you with a list of policies that he or she can explain satisfactorily, addressing lateness, cancelling a session, medical freeze, etc.

What are your expectations of me? Understand that your success is mostly in your control. The answer may include asking for your commitment to a number of additional workouts outside of your sessions with them, to keeping a food diary, or to consulting with a nutritionist or other professional prior to proceeding.

What kind of screening will I undergo? At a bare minimum, this should consist of questions related to you and your family’s health and exercise history, medical conditions and attitudes towards exercise, and must be completed before your first session.

May I contact any of your past clients for a reference? Any reputable trainer should be willing to provide you with several references of current or former clients. Make sure you ask the clients if they were pleased with the results and if they would hire the trainer again.

These ten questions will give you a very good understanding of a personal trainer’s potential to help you succeed. If after asking these questions, you are not satisfied with his or her answers, move on and find another trainer. The personal trainer you hire must get you to your goal safer and faster than if you did it on your own. Trainers that answer these questions well should be able to do that.

Rod Macdonald is the Vice President of canfitpro.  For more information on canfitpro, please visit For more information on Rod, please visit

Categories: Exercise Tips & Techniques