How to Pick a Trainer

Selecting the right personal fitness coach is a highly personal decision and can make all the difference between a training program that empowers you to achieve your fitness goals and one that goes nowhere. Obviously, personal rapport with your trainer is essential, but there are a number of other factors you should consider when evaluating and picking a trainer. Here we offer our 6 recommendations for how to pick a trainer.

  1. NCCA-Accredited Certification
    A personal trainer should hold a current NCCA-accredited certification. This will give you the assurance that you are working with a professional who has the knowledge and skills to provide you with a safe and effective workout.The National Commission for Certifying Agencies (NCCA) has 26-years of experience accrediting allied health professions such as registered dietitians, nurses, athletic trainers, and occupational therapists. A fitness industry initiative launched in 2003 called for organizations offering personal trainer certifications to seek NCCA-accreditation of their certification exams in order to raise the standard of personal training and better serve and protect consumers. Currently, only 10 of nearly 70 certification agencies have achieved this recognition. My certifications, Certified Personal Trainer (CPT) and Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist (CSCS) are from a NCCA approved certification agency, National Strength and Conditioning Association (NSCA.). You can find a list NCCA-accredited certification agencies, at, and click on the NCCA link. All of my certifications, including American Red Cross First Aid, and AED/CPR, are current. You can always contact a certification agency to verify a trainer’s status. Most certification renewal periods run between 2-4 years and require that personal trainers take continuing education designed to keep them up-to-date on the latest information and training techniques.
  2. Work Experience/Specialization
    Ask how many years of experience a personal trainer has working with clients, particularly those with your needs or limitations. Does he/ she have expertise in a certain area of fitness or prefer to work with certain types of clients, for example — sports conditioning, pre-natal fitness or post-rehabilitation? If you have a medical condition or a past injury, a personal trainer should design a session that accounts for this. If you are receiving care for a medical or orthopedic condition, a personal trainer should obtain your consent to discuss exercise guidelines and contraindications with your healthcare provider. Your personal trainer should also ask the doctor for medical clearance. My practice, areas of expertise and experience, is in fitness training for youths and seniors.
  3. Education
    While an NCCA-accredited certification is the professional credential you should look for in a personal trainer, a college degree in exercise science or a related field is a definite plus. This lets you know that your personal trainer has a solid educational foundation in exercise program design. I have a B.A. in Physical Education from the University of Northern Colorado.
  4. Talk To The Trainer
    Developing a personal, yet professional relationship with your trainer is very important. Trust your instincts. Ask yourself if you think you could get along well with the trainer and whether you think the trainer is genuinely interested in helping you. The personal trainer you select should motivate you using positive, not negative, reinforcement. Importantly, that trainer should be someone you like.
  5. Fees
    Personal training fees vary based on a trainer’s experience and reputation, facility prices and geographic area, but they are well worth the investment. Although you may meet with your trainer more frequently at first, your financial investment should decrease as you become more independent, knowledgeable and fit. My rates are very competitive.
  6. Professional Liability Insurance/Policies
    Many personal trainers operate as independent contractors and are not employees of a fitness facility. Find out if the trainer you want to hire carries professional liability insurance. A reputable personal trainer should make sure you understand the cancellation policy and billing procedures. My policies on cancellation and billing are clearly stated else where on this website. The best way to avoid confusion and to protect your rights is to have those policies in writing. My liability insurance is with the National Strength and Conditioning Association (NSCA).