While affording a personal trainer may still be a luxury for many, it’s important that you make the right choice for your body, lifestyle, and health. Robbie Ann Darby is a professional actress, model, and fitness advocate with a BA in Drama and Dance (Spelman College) and a MFA in Acting (The University of Texas at Austin). As an American Council on Exercise certified Personal Trainer and Group Fitness Instructor Robbie has years of experience in the fitness industry. She has designed effective and challenging programs for all fitness levels and has a sincere passion for instructing others on how to make the inclusion of fitness and wellness a part of their everyday lives. Based in New York, she works with numerous clients and wants to give you five effective tips for choosing the best personal trainer to meet your needs.

1.  Make sure they are legit. Training with a trainer who is not certified is like riding with a unlicensed driver. Yes they may know how to drive, but it is dangerous and a huge liability risk. Some common national certifications are ACE (American Council on Exercise), AFAA (Aerobics and Fitness Association of America), ACSM (American College of Sports Medicine), NASM (National Academy of Sports Medicine), and NSCA (National Strength and Conditioning Association).  Most fitness facilities require their trainers be certified, however whenever training with a “private” or “freelance” trainer always ask if they are not only certified, but insured. If they are offended by this question and/or fail to answer/show documentation….run!

2.  Can they meet YOUR needs. Once you have confirmed that they are certified it is time to see if they can meet your particular needs. This is determined mainly through their past and current experiences and areas of expertise. Again totally legit questions to ask. For example, if you are pregnant or are recovering from an injury a trainer without pre-natal training experience or expertise in rehabilitation is not for you. Don’t assume that since they are certified they can meet your specific needs. Special needs require special training, so ask.

3.  Ask for referrals. Ok, so they are certified, and can meet your needs….now verify it, ask for a referral. At least one. Trainers are proud of what they have assisted in producing: client results. So a good trainer will be very forthcoming with this information.

4.  Do you like them. Sometimes people want the best trainer on paper and get Mr. or Mrs. Not So Fun To Be Around. A good professional and personal relationship with your trainer is important so don’t underestimate this. Some times working out is hard enough alone…don’t torture yourself even more by spending time with someone you don’t like/get along with. You don’t have to be the best of friends, but you should feel comfortable around them and they should be a positive reinforcement above all else. Also is gender important to you? I have had many clients who initially wanted a male trainer assuming they were tougher/more qualified. Not true. But if gender is important to you consider this as well. The best way to determine if they are the best fit is through a trial. My first sessions are always complimentary for this reason so inquire about any trial procedures the trainer may have.

5.  Do they fit in your schedule and budget. Some people like to exercise in the morning, some in the evening. Can a personal trainer accommodate your schedule? It would be nice if your trainer was just “your” trainer, but since they probably are not make sure your schedule can be accommodated within theirs. Also like any other position a “rookie” trainer and an “expert” trainer will differ in qualifications and therefore most likely price. Ask up front what their rates are and if they are negotiable.  Most clients charge less when you commit to a larger program/package or even at times offer payment plans. Overall some trainers may have more flexibility than others, so ask in regards to scheduling and pricing. Personal training is definitely a form of customer service, so a good trainer will most likely be willing to be flexible to ensure your happiness.

To learn more about Robbie Ann Darby, visit her website, The RAD Experience.

Have you ever used a personal trainer? What would you add to Robbie’s list?


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  1. Thank you so much for this information. I have really been wanting to get into a training program. I want to get back into shape since having my fifth and final baby. I’m excited to get started!

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