How to Pick a Great Personal Trainer

By Sarah Gleim

When it comes to adults participating in physical activity in the United States, the statistics are pretty alarming. Despite the fact that exercise and proper nutrition have been proven time and again to decrease chronic disease, relieve stress and improve quality of life, the President’s Council on Fitness, Sports & Nutrition has found that less than 5 percent of adults participate in 30 minutes of physical activity each day -- and only one in three adults gets the recommended amount of physical activity each week.

If you’re in that 95 percentile that’s basically inactive, don’t freak out just yet. You don’t have to work out for three hours a day to get the benefits of exercise. In fact, the Physical Activity Guidelines for Americanssuggests that all you really need is about 150 minutes a week of moderate to intense exercise. That’s just two and a half hours. You can handle that, right?

If you're not sure you can, consider hiring a personal trainer to motivate and guide you along the way. These tips will help you find the right one for you.

Determine Your Goals

First, when you’re hiring a personal trainer, you have to decide what your fitness goals are. Do you want to hire a trainer who's going to help you lose weight, or are you interested in sports conditioning and strength training? It’s important to work with a trainer who has expertise in the area you want to focus on. If your goal is to train for a marathon, be sure you work with someone who has the skills and experience to get you there, such as a certified running coach.

Personality

Steve Steinberg, an upwave reviewer and owner of Black Belt Fitness Personal Training in Waltham, Massachusetts, says one of the most important things to determine when interviewing prospective trainers is whether or not your personalities mesh. “A good trainer might know the science behind fitness, but if he can’t connect on a personal level, it probably won’t be a good fit,” he says. “A good trainer knows how to push a client’s buttons.” Equally important is interviewing and asking questions -- find out about the trainer's history and why he or she became a trainer in the first place.

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Certification

Many groups and associations offer various certifications, but Steinberg says the gold standards include The American Council on Exercise, the National Academy of Sports Medicine and the National Strength and Conditioning Association. Reviewer Mindy Solkin would add The American College of Sports Medicine to that list. Some trainers may also hold college degrees in fields like kinesiology, physical fitness or nutrition.

Price

The cost for hiring a personal trainer varies depending on several factors, including where you live, whether you’re working out in a gym or in your home, and how many sessions you want to have per week. Steinberg says the average cost runs from $50 to $90 per hour. Try to view the expenditure as an investment in your health, and don’t let cost be the sole determining factor in your decision. Keep in mind that the most expensive trainer isn't necessarily better.

More Factors To Consider

It’s critical that you work with someone who carries liability insurance and is currently certified in CPR. Ask for a trainer’s references -- and by all means check them. Make sure your potential trainer questions you about your medical conditions, previous or current injuries, past surgeries and medications. If he or she doesn't, consider that a red flag.

WebMD Feature from Turner Broadcasting System
© Turner Broadcasting System, Inc.

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