Is Your Personal Trainer Certified?


Ok, you're convinced it's time to start an exercise program, but where and how do you start? Why not hire a personal trainer? But wait; is she certified? Why is this important? A personal trainer should be certified because that’s your assurance you’re working with a trainer who has the knowledge to provide you with a safe and effective workout. A certification is more than a piece of paper and not just any certification will do.

You want a personal trainer who has been certified by a nationally recognized certifying organization, like ACE (American Council on Exercise), which happens to be the largest non-profit fitness-certifying organization in the world. For example, to qualify for ACE certification, a personal trainer has to pass an intensive three-and a-half hour, 175-question exam that covers exercise science and programming knowledge, including anatomy, kinesiology, health screening, basic nutrition and instructional methods.

If you’re looking to hire a personal trainer, after checking certification, here is a checklist to help out decide which one to choose:

• Make sure the trainer has liability insurance and provides business policies in writing.  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 you understand the cancellation policy and billing procedure. The best way to avoid confusion and to protect your rights is to have those policies in writing.

• Ask for references.  Does the trainer have testimonials? If not, ask the trainer for the names and phone numbers of other clients with goals similar to yours. And then call them to see if they were pleased with their workouts, if the trainer was punctional and prepared, and if they felt their individual needs were addressed. The best personal trainer to hire is the one that others give high marks to.

• Find out what the trainer charges.  Rates vary, depending on the trainer’s experience, and the length and location of the workout session. For example, a personal trainer who works in a fitness club will probably charge less per hour than one who comes to your home or office.

• Look for a trainer who is able to assist you with your special needs. A personal trainer should always have you fill out a health questionnaire to determine your needs and limitations. If you have a medical condition or past injury, a personal trainer should design a session that takes these into account. If you’re under a doctor’s care, a personal trainer should discuss any exercise concerns with your doctor, and should ask for a health screening or release from your doctor.  Also, a reputable personal trainer will have you perform certain assessments determined by your health history and your goals.

• Decide if this is someone you can work with.  Some people like to exercise in the morning, some in the evening. Will the personal trainer you’re talking to accommodate your schedule? What about the trainer’s gender? Some people do better with a trainer of the same sex; others prefer the opposite sex. 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. Ask yourself, too, if you think the trainer is genuinely interested in helping you.

For more information on personal trainer certification, contact Maurie Cofman, C.E.S. who is gold-certified by ACE as an Advanced Health and Fitness Specialist, Personal Trainer and Health Coach in St. Louis, Brentwood, and Clayton, MO. If you are interested in becoming a personal trainer and are looking to get certified, contact ACE athttp://www.acefitness.org.



maurie@mauriecofman.com