Interrogation – How to Choose the Right Trainer

TV Guide
TV Guide

As a former U.S. Army Interrogator, I know a thing or two about asking the right questions. And when it comes to finding a personal trainer, you should too. Not all trainers and coaches are created equal. Choosing a credible person to help you reach your fitness goals should be taken into careful consideration. Would you take a Ferrari to a backyard mechanic? Your body and health are fine luxuries. Don’t treat your Ferrari like a Pinto.

“Interrogate” your trainer so that you know credible he or she is. But first, you have to have a plan.

Planning & Preparation

What are your goals?

What type of trainer are you looking for?
• male/female
• personality
• availability

The Interrogation


Who is this person?
• If you decide to hire personal trainer, then you should know a good amount about them personally


What is/are their specialization(s)?
• Your trainer should specialize in the area(s) that fits your goal(s)

What degree(s)/certification(s) do they have?
• At a minimum, your trainer should have a personal training and CPR/AED certifications
• If your goals are more advanced such as sports performance, look for trainers who have sports specific certifications (CSCS – NSCA or PES –NASM)

CSCS – Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist
• The gold standard certification for sports performance professionals

PES – Performance Enhancement Specialist
• Great knowledge based certification but not as widely recognized as the CSCS


When did they earn their certification?
• Not a deal breaker, everyone needs a chance and has to start somewhere, but knowing your trainer’s amount of experience is something you may want to consider


Where did they earn their degree/certification(s) from?
• You should not be willing to invest into a trainer who is not willing to invest into themselves
• Would you take a luxury car to a backyard mechanic? Your body and health are luxuries
• Certifications- Look for National Commission for Certifying Agencies (NCCA) accredited

These are the best and most reputable certifications, if your trainer does not have one of certifications below, you may want to look elsewhere.

American Council on Exercise (ACE)
American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM)
National Academy of Sports Medicine (NASM)
National Strength and Conditioning Association (NSCA)
International Fitness Professional Association (IFPA)
National Council on Strength and Fitness (NCSF)
National Exercise Sports Trainers Association (NESTA)
National Federation of Professional Trainers (NFPT)
The Cooper Institute
*International Sports Sciences Association (ISSA)
*Aerobics and Fitness Association of America (AFAA)

* Not NCAA approved but reputable


Why did they decide to become a personal trainer?
• Are they passionate about helping people live healthier lives? Assess their level of passion – it is best to work with a trainer who takes their job seriously


How can they help you achieve your goals?
• Your potential trainer should be able to answer this question and provide a realistic plan that is based on progression.
• This plan should be mapped out in steps – you have to crawl before you walk and walk before you can run
• If the plan is not mapped out in steps, you may want to look elsewhere

What Else

What else do you want to know about your trainer – make sure you’re comfortable with the trainer because you are making an investment (money/time). Make sure your investment gives you a nice return.

Ilen Bell is a certified fitness professional and co-founder of Black Fitness Today. His passion for community advocacy, producing relevant stories and providing tools and resources that cater to the underserved African American community remain at the forefront. His credentials include advanced education in exercise science and internet marketing, the fitness industry highly-respected certified strength and conditioning specialist certification, and multiple web fitness series on top websites and He is focused on further building explosive, dynamic and approachable brands to help the African American man and woman feel empowered, valued and identified in the global health and fitness industry.

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