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10 Questions: How to Hire a Personal Trainer


If you’re ready to get fit, you’re ready for a personal trainer. Maybe you’re looking to trim down. Maybe you’ve hit a fitness plateau. Or maybe you’re injured and need to get safely back on track. Whatever the case—it’s important to ask the right questions to get the right trainer for you.
We asked three top-rated Thumbtack trainers what to ask before hiring someone to (lovingly) kick your ass into shape: Kevin Weston of Shape 2 Tone in Orange, California, Petros Arzoumanidis of Workout Anywhere Personal Training in New York, and Konrad Koczwara of Chitown Trainer in Chicago.

Here’s what they told us are the top 10 questions to ask:

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What is your training and what are your certifications?

This was the first question from every trainer. Proper education and certification is crucial for a quality experience, as well as staying safe while keeping fit. Koczwara also suggested asking about health and fitness-related degrees on a college level.

What do you specialize in?

Look for an area of specialty beyond the basic training certification. If you’re looking to shape up after baby, seek out a post-natal fitness specialist. Arzoumanidis suggested asking what type of clients they usually train. For someone seeking a ballet body, a trainer that focuses on weightlifting competitions might not be the best fit.

What kind of results can I expect?

According to Koczwara, hoped for results might include fat loss, increased strength and cardiovascular endurance, more energy, improved mood and health, and clothes that fit better. If you have a desired outcome, the phone screening is a great time to share it. Are you shaping up for a wedding, slimming down for a highschool reunion, or lowering your heart rate per doctor’s orders? Let a prospective trainer know so the two of you can decide if it’s the right fit.

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Does the pricing change, or does it remain fixed on sign up cost?

Weston recommends asking about future pricing. Some trainers offer incentive sign up rates, that may be subject to change in the future. Know what you are agreeing to before you sign on the dotted line.

What are some of your recent client successes?

You want a trainer that will get you the results you want. The best proof of that is recent client experiences. Arzoumanidis suggests asking the trainer to share stories, this will also give you a chance to understand how the trainer works. Another option is to read testimonials online.

Do you incorporate nutrition and meal planning into the training?

All the hard work in the world won’t change things if you’re not getting proper nutrition. Weston urges people to talk with a potential trainer about how they handle meal plans. Of particular importance, he says, is to find someone who is confident recommending the appropriate amount of protein for your body weight and type to ensure optimal outcomes.

Are you able to work with back problems?

Many people experience back pains from old injuries or just sitting at a desk all day. Don’t exacerbate an existing problem, or create a new one! Weston suggests talking with a trainer out the gates about how they manage back issues.

How do you continue to stay up-to-date on best practices?

Just like every other field, the world of health and fitness continues to evolve. As experts gain more understanding of how our bodies best perform, strategies change. Arzoumanidis says to ask what your future trainer does to stay relevant in the field.

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Is the person I speak to on the phone the person I will be training with?

Some larger organizations are run by a well-known trainer who oversees employee trainers. Weston recommends asking if the person you create a relationship with on the phone is the same person who will be doing your training.

What’s the best way to prepare for the first session?

Koczwara recommends getting a good night’s rest and eating simple carbs—such as a banana or strawberries—for energy beforehand. He says that often a first session is a moderate intro to what a regular session might look like. The trainer should take time to get to know your goals, perceived limitations, and current lifestyle. Koczwara says as long as you, “show up with a smile, ready to work,” you’ll have a great time.

Most importantly, ask yourself if you like the trainer and if they have what you want.

Hire someone you click with. Physical fitness can be hard at times, but it should also be enjoyable. Hire a person who seems to practice what they preach, fitness-wise. Now get out there and have some fun.

Ready to get started? Here’s how to find a personal trainer in your area.