So you’re thinking about hiring a personal trainer.  Perhaps you’ve tried exercising on your own, but find you need a little extra push, or you’d like someone with experience to help you through your fitness journey.  Great!  Hiring a Personal Trainer is one of the best decisions you can make to help you in your healthy lifestyle change.  After all, there is no investment better than your own body.  Because if you don’t take care of your body, any other investments you make won’t really matter.  But before you take the plunge and hire a trainer, here are some things you should know.

What you should know before hiring a personal trainer

1. Not all certifications are created equal. Not all certifications require extra training.  In other words, anyone can become a Personal Trainer, depending on what certifications he/she goes after.  Knowing which organizations require extra training before certification can help you to ask questions to find out more about your potential trainer’s educational background.  Here are some of the most well-known certifying bodies in the world:

National Strength and Conditioning Association (NSCA) is one of the most recognized certifying organizations in the United States, UK and has gained ground in Canada as a very recognizable certification.  It is also the longest-standing certifying body in the USA.  It provides two certifications: CSCS, for trainers working with professional athletes, and NSCA-CPT, for trainers working with active and sedentary clients.  The CSCS certification requires a Bachelor’s Degree in Science or Arts, or a Degree in Chiropractic Medicine, while the NCSA-CPT certification does not require a degree..

YMCA/YWCA is a well recognized institution in the UK, and they also have certifications for Personal Trainers.  This organization does not require a degree before certification.

2. Not all price packages are created equal. Personal Training, while an ever-growing industry, is still a fairly new profession.  There is no regulatory body to ensure that prices remain similar throughout the continent.  Prices can vary from as little as £35.00 per hour to as much as £300.00 per hour, depending on experience, location, clientele, and you guessed it – fame.  More expensive does not necessarily mean better training.  Someone who you’ve seen on T.V. may charge a pretty penny, but someone you’ve never heard of may have more experience and better training philosophies.

3. If something sounds too good to be true, it probably is. Personal trainers who promise you can lose “13 lbs in 13 days” or other extreme weight loss programs are offering unhealthy and probably unsafe options.  You might lose 13 lbs in 13 days, but what are the chances that you will maintain that weight loss?  Also, what kind of weight are you losing here?  Stay tuned for more on crash diets and why you should avoid them.

4. The biggest mistake clients make when choosing a Personal Trainer is not asking enough questions. Remember, when you hire a trainer, YOU ARE THE BOSS.  If you were a manager in a retail store, would you hire a Sales Associate without interviewing him or her first?  Probably not.  You are the manager of your own body, so make sure you interview the person who’s going to help you make changes to it.  Ask lots of questions and make sure that you make the final decision.  Here are some do’s and don’ts of hiring a Personal Trainer:

DO ask lots of questions.  Ask what your potential trainer’s educational background is, what his/her certifications are, and what his/her experience entails.

DO ask to see certifications and degrees.  Trainers who take their job seriously will have an introductory packet or portfolio with copies of the relevant documentation for you to browse or take home.

DO ask for full disclosure on hourly rates.  Always be suspicious of businesses that refuse to tell you prices.

DON’T let yourself be bullied by high-pressure sales tactics.  Trainers who want your business but also care about your well-being will let you know the number of sessions they think is right for you, but will also respect your need to discuss purchases with family members or think about the decision.  Follow up is different than high-pressure tactics.  A courteous trainer may give you a day or two, but will call and follow up on your decision about hiring him/her.

DON’T give yourself reasons why you can’t afford a Personal Trainer.  Instead, give yourself reasons why you can’t afford NOT to have a Trainer.  Like I said before, your body is the best investment you will ever make – having a Trainer can help you to keep that investment bringing higher returns.

DON’T be fooled by trainers with all the latest gadgets.  A resourceful trainer can work with or without equipment in any environment.