Buyer Beware – Tips For Hiring a Trainer & 7 Types of Trainers To Run From

When hiring a personal trainer, make sure you do your homework. You are putting your health and your body in someone else’s hands. You wouldn’t let a mechanic off the street work on your car, so why wouldn’t you do the same with your body? Here are a few tips to consider before hiring a trainer.

Are they certified?

A personal trainer should hold a CURRENT NCCA-accredited certification. The National Commission for Certifying Agencies (NCCA) has 26 years of experience accrediting allied health professions such as registered dietitians, nurses, athletic trainers, and occupational therapists.  In 2006, the International Health, Racquet and Sportsclub Association (IHRSA) recommended that club owners only hire personal trainers with certifications from agencies accredited through the National Commission for Certifying Agencies (NCCA) or an equivalent accrediting organization. Currently, there are over 300 certifying agencies, but only a handful that are accredited by the NCCA. A few that made that list are ACE, ACSM, NASM, NCSF, NFPT & NSCA (to see the full list go to

It’s sad, but there are a lot of “fitness experts”, “fitness professionals” and personal trainers out there who are not certified, or are certified, but not by a reputable and nationally recognized agency. If you hire one of these people, you are putting your health and body in danger.

Are they insured and CPR/AED Certified?

In the event that something should happen during your session, you want to make sure that you are protected. Before beginning any type of workout, your trainer should show you proof of liability insurance, proof of a CURRENT CPR/AED certification, have you sign a waiver and complete a health history. If these steps are skipped over – run away as fast as you can!

Do they have experience with people who have the same health issues / injuries as you?

If you are looking to train for a specific sport or activity, have medical issues, are pre or post natal or are coming back from an injury make sure you choose a trainer that has experience in that area.  The last thing you want is to become reinjured or set further away from your goal.

Ask for a trial workout or consultation

Not every trainer will be a good fit for you. If you are looking to run a marathon, hiring a trainer who specializes in body building probably won’t be a good choice for you. You need to find a trainer that can help you reach your goals. A good trainer will be more than happy to meet with you, discuss your goals with you and find out if you would work well together.

During your trial workout or consultation, don’t be afraid to ask questions. You are hiring a trainer to help YOU reach YOUR goals and you need to know everything you can in order to make the right decision.

After your consultation or trial workout ask yourself: Does this trainer motivate me? Could we get along? Do I feel comfortable with this trainer? Does this trainer have an interest in helping me reach my goals?

Are their previous/present clients happy with their results?

A reputable trainer will have no problems giving you references. Request email addresses or phone numbers of previous and /or present clients. Ask the client if the trainer was on time for sessions, addressed their needs and acted in a professional manner.

Watch your trainer in action

If you can, check out your possible trainer in a real life situation. Some trainers talk a good talk, but when it comes to training – they can’t walk the walk. Watch to see if they are attentive to their clients form, keep their workout area safe (equipment out of the way) and stay focused on their client during the session.


Cookie Cutter Cal – This trainer has one workout that they do and they do it with every one of their clients. Leg press, lat pull down, chest press – repeat. Bicep curl, bench dip, front raise – next! It doesn’t matter if you’re 18 or 81 – all their clients get the same workout.

Chatty Cathy – This trainer is a talker. He/she talks constantly about everything and anything. You could be pinned underneath a barbell and he/she won’t even notice because he/she is too into recapping Grey’s Anatomy.

Pill Poppin’ Pat – With all the supplements he/she carries in their pocket, this trainer can be heard coming from a mile away. This trainer has a magic pill for everything. Red, blue, orange, green – every pill has a purpose and he/she thinks YOU should be taking all of them.

Flexing Felix – Usually a male trainer, but not always. This trainer is more interested in how he/she looks in the mirror than in your form. This one can usually be found flexing in front of any reflective object. If he is wearing a shirt (but probably not), it will most definitely say “Welcome to the Gun Show!”

The Gossip Queen – This trainer is almost always a woman. She is in this business for 1 reason, and 1 reason only – the gossip. She attracts clients that love the gossip as well. Sessions don’t focus on working out or getting fit. Oh, no. It’s all about who is doing what with who.  Needless to say, the only goal that these clients achieve is big, strong jaw muscles.

DR. PT, MD. – To the ER, Stat! This trainer actually thinks because he/she knows where the patella is located that they are a medical doctor. He/she will diagnose your injury or illness and tell you how they can heal you. You “You don’t need to see a doctor for that debilitating pain in your leg – it’s just shin splits. Here, let’s do some sprints to warm you up!” This trainer may actually carry surgical gauze and a trach kit in their cargo shorts. Yikes!

Last but not least: The Drill Sergeant – Combat boots, a whistle and camo pants are a part of this trainer’s wardrobe. This trainer yells, screams obscenities and works you so hard you’re in pain for days. Complaining only leads to more reps and throwing up makes him/her laugh uncontrollably. After a session with this trainer, you’ll be lucky if you can breathe without crying!