How to Choose the Right Personal Trainer

March 13, 2023

A personal trainer should hold a current certification accredited by the National Commission for Certifying Agencies (NCCA) to 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. There was an initiative launched in 2003 that called for all fitness organizations offering personal trainer certifications to seek accreditation of their certification exams to raise the standard of personal training to better serve and protect consumers. Here are some examples of certifications you should look for in a trainer in no particular order:



  • National Academy of Sports Medicine (NASM)
  • American Council of Exercise (ACE)
  • American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM)
  • National Federation of Professional Trainers (NFPT)
  • International Sports Sciences Association (ISSA)



All of these organizations are accredited by NCCA. The NCCA was selected, given their 20+ years of experience in accrediting many allied health professions (e.g., dietitians, nurses and occupational therapists).



Never be afraid to ask to see a copy of the certification to ensure that it is still current. Most recertification periods run between two and four years. You can always contact the certification agency to verify a trainer’s status. After checking the certification, there are a few other criteria you should consider when selecting a personal trainer. You will be surprised that there will be trainers out there that still use their certification, even after it has been expired.



Ask for References

Ask the potential trainer for their portfolio of client experiences. This can include any testimonials of other clients they have worked with that share traits and goals that are similar to yours. In a perfect world, it makes sense to select a trainer who has worked with clients similar to you or perhaps matches your physical traits or demographics. However, do not totally rule out a trainer if they haven’t trained someone similar to you. This would be just a great preliminary step.




Talk to the Trainer

The next step is too simply to have a conversation with the trainer. Personally, a personal trainer should reach out to you about setting up an introduction phone call or video chat. If they haven’t, that would be a red flag, regardless of their schedule because this is a rapport-building and people business. Developing a personal, yet professional, relationship with your trainer is very important. This will allow the trainer to empathize with and understand your unique challenges and needs. However, trust your instincts about the impressions the trainer makes upon you. 



The personal trainer you select should motivate you by positive, not negative, reinforcement. Even more important, that trainer should be someone you like. 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. 




Working Experience and Area of Specialization

This can be very important if you have special needs. Inquire about the years of experience a trainer has worked with clients. More importantly, ask about the trainer’s expertise in working with individuals with your needs or limitations.


If you have a medical condition or a past injury, a personal trainer should design a session that accounts for this. If you are under a doctor’s care, a personal trainer should gain your consent to discuss exercise concerns with your doctor and should ask the doctor for medical clearance.





A college degree in the fields of exercise science or nutrition improves the knowledge and credibility of a trainer. It is important to note that a college degree is not mandatory to be a certified personal trainer. However, if you want to hire and work with the best, this should be part of your hiring process.




Liability Insurance and Business Policies

Many personal trainers operate as independent contractors and are not employees of a fitness facility. You should find out if the trainer you want to hire carries professional liability insurance.




A reputable personal trainer should also make sure that you understand the cancellation policy and billing procedure. The best way to avoid confusion and protect your rights is to have those policies in writing. 



If you need extra guidance in your fitness journey, please reach out to KB Fitness Solutions. Our team of certified fitness professionals will be glad to help you achieve what you are meant to achieve!

The Author

Carlo Varquez, M.S.

I believe in the practice of preventative health. The only way to combat chronic diseases is through preventative action such as exercise and diet. My health and wellness career started within myself. After being an active person in high school through sports, my fitness dropped entering college. I gained unhealthy habits that lead to weight gain. To prevent any complications, I made some time to be active again by picking up weight lifting. Through that, I found myself wanting to help others before it was too late for them. As I gained my masters degree, I interned at the Cardiac Rehabilitation department at Advocate Lutheran General. I saw firsthand what cardiovascular disease can do, and what the action plan is to help those people return back to their daily routine. The time to make change is now, but it doesn’t need to be done alone. The science behind exercise is a powerful tool that is often overlooked. I want to motivate and increase self-efficacy to help others achieve their goals.

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