Education Knowledge

How Do You Know if Your Personal Trainer is Qualified?

Whether you’re out of shape, wanting to tone a specific muscle group, or recovering from an injury, when you hire a personal trainer, you want one that is qualified. But how do you know if your chosen one qualifies for your wants and needs? Read on to find out.

Personal Trainer Qualification #1 Certification

To become a certified personal trainer, they will need to pass a certification exam. One such place that offers personal trainer certification is the “National Academy of Sports Medicine” (NASM) test. The NASM study guide will help the personal trainer pass their exam. According to an article on, personal trainers who become accredited typically will have more job opportunities, hold more credibility in the fitness world, and shouldn’t have to worry about liability insurance issues.

Furthermore, NASM’s website states that those with the certification are knowledgeable in the following areas, thus making them more able to get the desired results.   

  • The science of exercise and movement  
  • Fitness assessments so they know the starting point of their clients
  • They know “Program design” and the “Optimum Performance Training” (OPT) model to help their clients get the results they want quickly.
  • They know speed, agility, and quickness training for those who are after performance, such as sports athletes, and those training for a specific event, such as a marathon
  • Nutrition best practices so their body has the fuel it requires to heal after training

NASM is but one type of certification. Others you may find your personal trainer having are:

  • The American Council on Exercise (ACE)
  • American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM)
  • National Strength and Conditioning Association (NSCA)
  • National Council on Strength and Fitness (NCSF)
  • International Sports Science Association (ISSA). 

But certification is only one aspect of qualification

Personal Trainer Qualification #2: Personality 

A big part of a personal trainer is their personality. The point of working with a personal trainer is to have them encourage you to exercise correctly. But their professional demeanor while doing it is a vital factor to consider. In the medical world, you might call it “bedside manner.” Even though most personal trainers aren’t doctors, the idea is similar. They must know that those they work with have their own struggles, hopes, desires, etc. They need to be “in tune” with their clients to determine each person’s limits by watching and listening to them. What might be too much for one person might be nothing for another. Given two people: one who monitors and encourages personal growth and advancement towards their goals vs. one who is a “drill sergeant,” the former would probably get better results. In short, find a personal trainer whose personality “meshes” with you to help you reach your goals. 

Personal Trainer Qualification #3 “Holistic Care”

The concept of holistic care when it comes to a personal trainer is to look at their client as a whole person, not just someone who is there for X reason. The types of things personal trainers need to consider when dealing with their clients are: 

  • Who are they? “Who” is not a thing of “name, rank, serial number,” but a thing of their background, age, personality, etc. 
  • Where are they at in their fitness journey? Are they just starting out, someone who’s an athlete, or someone in-between? 
  • For what reason or, put another way, why are they there? The “why” of a situation may be several factors; for instance, 
  • Are they trying to get in better shape? 
  • Does the client have a sports-related injury?
  • Do they need nutritional advice in addition to whatever else they’re working on?
  • Did they try other things or other personal trainers before that didn’t quite work out? If so, what else did they try? 
  • Did the doctor tell them they needed to increase their physical activity?
  • How long do they have to work with the personal trainer? Maybe they’ve been sent by the doctor or insurance company, and they only have X# of sessions, or there’s a game they need to be able to play in.


Personal trainers who don’t consider such factors may be less than ideal.  

Personal Trainer Qualification #4: Vetting

When you’re looking for a personal trainer, one of the things you’ll want to be able to do is vet them. Read their online reviews (if any). If there are none, or they have complaints, you’ll need to consider if what’s said is a concern. Granted, no one’s going to be the right personal trainer for everyone, but there are red flags to look out for, such as:

  • Inability to provide current insurance
  • Little to no customization of workout plan based on ability, injury, or workout level
  • Insistence on pushing you too hard and not listening to the fact you’re in pain
  • Looking to push fad diets, supplements, or other products
  • Offering cash-based payment discounts.

Maybe you can arrange to watch the personal trainer working with another client to see them “in action” before you sign up to use their services. Conversely, maybe they’ll give you a free session to see how they work before officially beginning your professional relationship.       

If you’re unable to vet your personal trainer, look elsewhere!

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