How to Choose a Personal Trainer

By Mary Glover, M.Ed., M.S., ACSM Certified
Posted 10/18/17

Why should personal trainers be only a luxury of the rich and famous? Some say that they cannot afford a personal trainer yet they will splurge on the purse that is in style, an expensive dinner out, …

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How to Choose a Personal Trainer


Why should personal trainers be only a luxury of the rich and famous? Some say that they cannot afford a personal trainer yet they will splurge on the purse that is in style, an expensive dinner out, or on a piece of exercise equipment that they promise to use. Unlike the purse that goes out of style, the instantly gratifying meal, and exercise bike that is used to hang clothing on, personal training is an investment in your health and fitness which can bring lasting benefits.

Before you splurge on the gift of personal training for yourself or for someone you care about, there are a few considerations that you should be aware of to make a sound investment. The following checklist will help you in your search for an educated, qualified, and compatible trainer who will help you to meet and to exceed your fitness goals.

Education and Certification

First and foremost, a professional trainer should have a degree in exercise science, kinesiology, exercise physiology, or a related health and fitness field. Ideally, your trainer should also have a current certification from a nationally recognized organization. The title “Personal Trainer” is not a guarantee that the person is qualified to lead you in a safe effective exercise program. The degrees and certifications are more than just pieces of paper. Rather, they are your assurance that your trainer has spent hours of serious preparation and did not get certified on a whim. Currently, there aren't any national standards or minimum requirements for holding this job title. Therefore, it is best for you to choose a trainer who is certified by one of the following organizations:

• American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM)

• Aerobic and Fitness Association of American (AFAA)

• American Council on Exercise (ACE)

• National Strength and Conditioning Association (NSCA)

While there may be other qualified certifying bodies not listed above, these are the most recognized and respected in the field. These certifications require a valid CPR card, the passing of written and practical exams, and continuing education requirements. These organizations also offer professional liability insurance to their trainers. Some of the organizations even provide an online database of trainers in your particular area.

The Right Fit

You must decide if you would prefer a male or female trainer. Is the trainer able to accommodate your schedule? The trainer should be able to communicate clearly and explain your program in an easy to understand manner. Ask yourself if this trainer is someone you could get along with. The trainer should be an individual genuinely interested in helping you to make the lifestyle changes necessary to reach your fitness goals.


Rates will vary depending on the length of sessions, location, and trainer's experience. Some gyms offer discounts on package deals and even group personal training options. On average, hands-on personal training is $65 to $100 an hour depending on the market.

A Game Plan

Be cautious of a trainer who insists on a workout during the first meeting without first getting to know your goals and physical capabilities. Qualified trainers should ask you to complete a health history questionnaire, informed consent form, and require a physician's approval to exercise. Baseline measurements to assess body fat, flexibility, cardio respiratory endurance and muscular endurance can be utilized to prescribe the best type of exercise, equipment and level of intensity. No exercise plan is complete without giving proper attention to nutrition. Your trainer should have a network of professionals such as nutrition specialists, physical therapists, and physicians to refer you to in areas outside of their expertise.

Proceed With Caution

Beware of trainers who may engage in unethical practices. Be on guard and skeptical if your trainer:

• Tries to sell dietary supplements or ergogenic aids.

• Is uninsured.

• Doesn't have written policies on billing and cancellation procedures.

• Is not punctual or is unavailable via telephone or email.

• Does not practice what he/she preaches.

With the above information you are now equipped to go out and find the best trainer to best suit you. So, go ahead and splurge because you are investing in one of your greatest assets -your health and fitness!

Mary Glover is pleased to announce that she has joined the Team of Personal Trainers at Barbella’s in Fairhope. To contact Mary call 502-558-8693 or