Let’s Get Personal About Training

Personal trainers are not just for the rich and famous anymore. Trainers can give you a big boost to getting fit, but how do you find the right trainer for you? The checklist below should help.


Nearly 400 organizations claim to offer personal training credentials. Five are considered worthwhile: American College of Sports Medicine, National Strength and Conditioning Association, American Council on Exercise, National Academy of Sports Medicine and Aerobics and Fitness Association of America.

Educational background

A degree in Exercise Science or a related field is preferable. If the individual does not have a degree, he or she should have extensive experience and knowledge of anatomy and exercise science.

CPR/liability insurance

Your trainer should be certified in CPR. Whether your trainer is an independent contractor or is employed with fitness center, he or she should have liability insurance.


The average cost for a training session is $50 per hour. Cost is not necessarily an indicator of quality; consider all other parameters before making a decision.

Scope of practice

Personal trainers are not there to simply count reps. They should be able to help you develop a healthy and fit lifestyle, assist you with setting goals, evaluate your progress and provide motivation. Trainers should also know when to refer clients to a professional with expertise outside of their own area of knowledge, for example, to a physical therapist or medical doctor. If a client has a medical condition, a physician should be consulted.


The five professional sports and exercise organizations mentioned above are good sources for personal trainers. You might also ask at your local YMCA, JCC, university fitness center or other sports and fitness facilities. Ask friends and co-workers for their recommendations as well.

Experience and references

Just because a trainer is a former or current athlete does not mean he or she is a good trainer. A good trainer has to be able to educate and inspire, not just perform. Ask about past training experience and seek out references.

Diabetes-care knowledge

It is crucial that trainers working with diabetic clients have had formal education in diabetes and exercise.

The buddy system

If a personal trainer is not right for you, consider training with a friend or family member and using the “buddy system.” Having someone you are accountable to can provide all the motivation you need to keep going. You might also consider signing up for group training, which will lower the cost of working with a trainer.

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