This is a Guest Post written and submitted by LA-Based MS, CPT, Jenn Zerling. Jenn is also the author of Breaking the Chains of Obesity, 107 Tools.
Newsflash: when a trainer is employed by a fitness center or millionaire, this is NOT an indication that he/she is the trainer for YOU.

Jenn Zerling, LA-based MS, CPT, the author of Breaking the Chains of Obesity, 107 Tools  has offered supportive tips on how to select an effective personal trainer:

1. Personality Matters: Do you like them? If you don’t like them, who cares what they know?  You have to spend 2-5 hours with them a week.  Why hang out with someone you don’t care for?

2. Credentials Matter: What are their credentials?  So, if you do like them, ask them who they are certified through?  Here are some very popular credentialing bodies:

  • NASM
  • ACE
  • ACSM
  • NSCA
  • ISSA

3. Specialties: Some trainers have a degree in exercise science.  This is fabulous.  A couple of popular ones include Kinesiology and Exercise Physiology.  There are even degrees in Sports Psychology and Physical Education. Trainers should also stay abreast of the latest research and developments in the field.

So, what is his/her specialty?

  • Weight loss
  • Sports
  • Body Building
  • Martial Arts
  • Yoga
  • Geriatric
  • Pre/postnatal
  • Post Rehab

4. How does this trainer design programs?

  • Use of postural assessments?
  • VO2 max assessment
  • Are vitals checked?
  • Are before and after pictures taken?
  • Are circumference measurements and body comp assessed?

5. Observation: Watch the trainer interact with his/her clients. Take these mental notes into consideration:

  • See if you like what you see.  Does (s)he talk a lot?
  • Is (s)he in tune with the client’s form?
  • Is (s)he on the cell phone while the client is working out?
  • How is his/her nonverbal body language?
  • Does (s)he possess emotional intelligence about his/her client?

6. References: Like a background check, do your research. Speak to reference(s). Call a current client and ask what his or her goals were. Find out what the trainer did to help them achieve the goals. You should always ask if the trainer was reliable, too. Were they on time and ready to go?

The Hiring:

  • Do a consultation with the trainer before committing to a relationship.
  • Determine a weekly plan of action with the trainer included.
  • Have the trainer run through an appropriate cardiovascular workout with you to do you on your own.
  • Assess your progress through specific and measurable goals.

3 Things to Avoid:

  1. Trainers who give you improper exercises: How do you know?  The exercises should not cause you pain.
  2. Training with someone who doesn’t align with your personal goals.
  3. Trainers who are unprofessional:
  • Show up late/cancel frequently
  • Don’t take continuing education workshops
  • Look around at other people during the session
  • Talk about other people during the session
  • Come into the session hung over
  • Don’t live the lifestyle of a trainer
  • Don’t listen to your personal goals
  • Isn’t attentive to your form throughout the session
  • Demonstrate inappropriate behavior such as touching in personal places or making inappropriate comments.