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15 Questions to Ask a Personal Trainer (Before Hiring Them)

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Requesting information on qualifications, discovering coaching style, and delving into the cost of sessions are some of the most important questions to ask a personal trainer. 

Asking prospective PTs these questions will influence whether they’re the perfect fit for you, before parting with your time and money. 

Before we dive in though, are you interested in turning your passion for fitness into a career? The best place to start is with our Personal Training Diploma.

You can find more information by downloading OriGym’s free course prospectus here!

So without further ado, let’s get stuck into OriGym’s top 15 questions to ask a personal trainer before hiring them!

15 Questions to Ask Your Personal Trainer

#1 - What Qualifications Do You Have? 

One of the first questions to ask a personal trainer is to find out what qualifications they have.

A Level 2 Gym Instructor qualification is the minimum requirement for working on the gym floor. This level of qualification is equivalent to GCSE grades A-C or an NVQ level 2. 

However, a level 2 qualification does not qualify an individual to design personalised training programmes based on individual exercise goals. 

Therefore, you want your potential trainer to have a Level 3 Personal Training qualification. This is the highest entry-level qualification in the industry.

With a level 3 qualification, your PT will know:

  • How to structure effective training programmes for a variety of needs and deliver them accordingly
  • Understand how an individual’s anatomy and physiology will affect their exercise regime, including special populations such as children and seniors
  • Knowledge on creating safe environments for clients in the gym
  • How to apply the basic principles of nutrition to a tailored physical activity programme

Some other questions you should ask are to do with where your personal trainer is registered. Both the National Register of Personal Trainers (NRPT) or CIMSPA (The Chartered Institute for the Management of Sport and Physical Activity) have an approved list of trained fitness professionals.

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Being aware of this will really help you when you’re deciding how to choose a personal trainer. As well as them being the right fit, you need to ensure they’re registered. 

Registering at such organisations can be costly for personal trainers so many avoid paying the fee, but you want your prospective PTs to be registered to guarantee you’re in good hands.

The reason these are good questions to ask a personal trainer before hiring them, is to ensure they’re qualified to train you safely, and effectively.

Your personal trainer is either going to teach you how to lose weight, gain muscle, enhance strength and/or improve your body composition. All of this involves using various gym equipment and machinery. 

So, while you may have seen a PT proficiently using equipment and machines in the gym, you still have to ask your new personal trainer to ensure they have the necessary qualifications to train you. 

#2 - What Areas Do You Specialise in? 

Next on the list of questions to ask a fitness instructor is what areas they specialise in. 

Examples of personal training specialties include weight loss, strength and conditioning, and sports nutrition, just to name a few. 

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Finding a personal trainer whose niche aligns with your fitness goals will help you to get the best quality programme and results. 

If you know what you should ask your new personal trainer, you can find out if they have prior knowledge of what will work best for what you want.

This way you’ll be more likely to see results faster, compared to a PT whose niche doesn’t align with your goals.

Below shows a basic overview of what your weekly programme could look like if your goals were to lose weight vs. if you wanted to gain muscle. 

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It’s worth noting that personal trainers who specialise in something will usually charge extra because of their heightened experience. Knowing what you should ask your new personal trainer about their niche will ensure they have specialised knowledge of the different classes, machines, equipment, and exercises that will benefit you most.  

You will want to weigh up whether more experience and specialisation is worth the extra money. 

For example, if you’re on a budget and want a holistic approach to training, then going with a newly qualified or less experienced PT might be an ideal choice.

These are all important questions to ask yourself before hiring or when looking for a personal trainer. 

#3 - Have You Helped Clients With Similar Goals to Mine? 

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Other important questions to ask a personal trainer include asking about their previous clients. Asking whether prospective PTs have trained others with similar goals to yours will help to identify whether their niche and experience is right for you. 

If they have, ideally they should draw similarities between the previous client’s goals and your own, to show that they recognise what your goals are and how to achieve them.

Building on this, they should be able to provide success stories from previous clients to answer your questions.

You could have a set of questions to ask your personal trainer about how long it took clients to achieve their goals, how much muscle they gained or fat they lost, or how their strength improved, depending on your goals.

This will help you to conceptualise how long it will take for you to see results and what you can expect from the programme. 

If they haven’t trained people with similar goals then you should go elsewhere, to find a trainer whose niche matches your specific goals. 

A good PT will listen to the questions you have to ask. A personal trainer who can’t help you may even suggest somebody else who can. 

The structure of these goals is super important too. Check out OriGym’s article on SMART fitness goals for hints and tips. 

#4 - How Do You Assess New Clients? 

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One of the most important questions to ask your personal trainer before hiring them is how they’ll assess you. 

Any reputable PT will perform initial assessments during your consultation session, and these assessments are vital for designing the right programme for your abilities and limitations. 

There are 3 stages involved in assessing clients: an initial consultation, a measurement assessment, and a movement assessment which may involve cardiovascular and strength assessments. 

Let’s run through each of these so that you know exactly what prospective PTs should say when answering this question. This will also help you to feel better prepared for each stage.

The consultation will involve gathering information about:

  • Fitness goals
  • Prior experience with exercise
  • Current injuries/areas susceptible to pain
  • Medical conditions 
  • Profession to gauge activity 
  • Availability 

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The measurement assessment should involve recording your: 

  • Height
  • Current weight
  • Body fat percentage
  • Measurements around the chest, shoulders, arms, waist, hips, glutes, thighs

Finally, the movement assessment requires clients to perform a few exercises so that a trainer can evaluate posture, any areas of the body that are overcompensating, and flexibility and stability. 

How will I be assessed? What information will you need from me during assessment? How will the initial assessment make sure I’m safe from injury? However you word it, these are all good questions to ask a personal trainer. 

All of these questions will help to shape your sessions. Depending on this information a trainer might choose the best exercises to strengthen your muscles, or the best fat burning exercises to help you lose weight.

Before hiring a personal trainer, they need to demonstrate how prepared they are. By gathering vital and extensive information, they can craft a programme that works best for your goals. 

#5 - How Will You Track My Progress?  

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With the previous point in mind, you also want to know how a personal trainer will track your progress. 

How are you going to know whether the programme is working if they don’t monitor your progress? That’s why this is one of the most important questions to ask a personal trainer before hiring them. 

Your PT should conduct weigh-in sessions every 4-6 weeks to monitor how much you’ve lost or gained. 

Measurements that are taken at various points of the body should be taken every 6-8 weeks and compared to the initial assessment. 

There are other ways of tracking progress however, so it’s worth asking questions about how your personal trainer will do this. 

For instance, they may use transformation photos. Your PT may ask to take photos of your starting physique, from the front, side, and back.

They will then usually repeat the process every 4-6 weeks to have a visual representation of how effective the training is. 

Another reason this is one of the best questions to ask a personal trainer is that it’s another way of ensuring efficacy. If they can’t provide at least one method of tracking progress, this is a red flag.

You will inevitably struggle to maintain motivation if your PT doesn’t show you how you're improving. To prevent this from happening, be sure to ask them this question. 

#6 - How Will You Hold Me Accountable? 

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From a training point of view, a PT should help you to develop responsibility when working through your fitness regime. 

Though a PT will provide you with the necessary tools to achieve your goals, they’re not going to hold your hand through each step. That’s why this is one of the best questions to ask a personal trainer. 

A personal trainer can only design a programme for you and help you within the gym; they can’t cook your meals, make sure you’re resting, or watch you between workouts.

In short, some of the most significant questions you need to ask your personal trainer are concerned with time outside the sessions. 

You need to know how to manage your own fitness motivation when you’re not in the gym with your trainer. 

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Say, for example, a client has recruited a trainer to help them lose weight. The client’s programme is designed to enhance calorie burn to help them maintain a calorie deficit, as well as maintaining weight loss long term

Alongside the fitness regime, the PT has advised the client to research low-calorie recipes and healthy snacks. 

However, at the 4-week weigh-in, the client hasn’t lost any weight. At this point, the PT should have a conversation with the client about their lifestyle, encouraging them to stick to the regime better. 

So how will a a personal trainer do this? Some good answers might be: 

  • By holding regular accountability sessions: A PT may hold regular sessions where clients are invited to take accountability for their lifestyle. 
  • Online accountability sessions: PTs may have their own online accountability pages where clients post content about their journey. Using forums like this will help clients to feel a sense of community and support with fellow gym-goers. 
  • Call you out: Your PT might focus on gently calling you out whenever they feel you’re making too many excuses.

Asking a PT how they’ll hold you accountable will help you work harder to achieve your goals. This is why you should add it to your list of questions to ask a personal trainer, before hiring them, to get the most out of your programme. 

#7 - What’s Your Coaching Style? 

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Another one of the questions you have to ask a personal trainer is what their coaching style is. 

There are thought to be 3 styles of coaching in fitness: Autocratic, Democratic and Holistic. 

Some trainers may switch between different styles to accommodate different people. However, other trainers may be dedicated to one style to better help their clients achieve their fitness goals. 

Let’s run through these 3 different types so that you’re familiar with what each style entails. 

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Autocratic: The easiest way to explain this style is “my way or the highway.” There is likely to be less client input here, with the PT articulating their vision directly. 

This is because an autocratic trainer will be focused on success and seeing results, pushing their own methods and encouraging the client to implement them. 

Democratic: A trainer with a democratic coaching style is client-oriented. This means the client has input in their programme and can perhaps alter things if the PT agrees.

A democratic coach will still push their clients to achieve their goals yet in a more flexible way compared with an autocratic PT. 

Holistic: Also known as "Laissez-Faire", a holistic coaching style revolves around that success is derived from the happiness of the client or team. Rather than explicit direction, this is more about fostering a positive, and encouraging, environment for the the client. 

They won’t act as authoritative as an autocratic trainer. Instead, they’ll focus on creating a friendlier relationship with clients. 

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Some may enjoy an autocratic coach’s ‘no excuses’ approach as this will help with accountability. 

However, some may find this approach intimidating, preferring a more democratic or holistic style. 

This is why these are good questions to ask a personal trainer before hiring them. You need to know if your learning style aligns with their coaching style, to achieve the best results. 

#8 - Do You Offer Nutritional Advice? 

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If you’re wondering “what else should I ask my new personal trainer?” you need to think about nutritional advice, as well as just an exercise regime. 

So, can personal trainers give nutritional advice? Well, most personal trainers will have a basic knowledge of nutrition and, generally, how it can be used to support your workout.

However, it’s important to know which questions to ask your personal trainer to ensure they’re qualified to give the advice they’re giving.

Personal trainers are simply not qualified to provide in-depth advice on diet or nutrition. 

They can provide some generic advice depending on different goals. For example, when you want to lose weight, maintain a calorie deficit. If you want to gain muscle, work towards a calorie surplus that includes a lot of protein. 

If you want more in-depth advice about nutrition, a personal trainer should point you in the direction of a qualified dietician.

Naturally, if they start using various nutrition jargon, you will have questions to ask. Your personal trainer should either be qualified themselves, or admit their limitations and direct you to somebody who is. 

#9 - What Types of Exercises Will I Be Doing? 

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If you’ve already had a conversation with your PT about your fitness goals, then they should already have an idea of the sort of exercise you’re going to be doing. 

The reason this should be in your list of good questions to ask a personal trainer is it’s another way of checking their expertise.

Your prior experience of the gym should influence the exercises they choose. If you’re a gym newbie, and your trainer starts talking about exercises and machines you have no knowledge of, this is a clear indication they’re not considering your experience into account.

If you start off knowing what the best gym machines are for beginners, or some basic exercises, then you’ll have an idea of what you should expect.

If you are an established gym-goer, and the trainer knows this, they shouldn’t condescend to you. 

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They will help paint a picture of what your programme could look like, with examples of different exercises. 

They may also ask if you have a preferred training type. For example, you may enjoy lifting but not know it can be included in a weight loss programme for burning calories and toning muscle.

If this is your preferred training style then, even when designing a weight loss programme, a good personal trainer can include this in your sessions. 

Your goals, experience, and preferences will influence what types of exercises that you’ll be doing, so make sure that the prospective personal trainer asks about them. 

This is why enquiring about what types of exercise you’ll be doing is another one of the best questions to ask a personal trainer before hiring them. 

#10 - How Many Sessions a Week Will I Be Doing? 

To answer this, trainers should first have questions to ask you. Your personal trainer needs to gather some information before they can say how frequently you should be working out.

The reason this is an important question to ask a personal trainer is that they should never answer this without gathering further information. 

How often you need to see a personal trainer is based on your fitness levels, previous experience, and your schedule. A good personal trainer will consider all of this and ask:

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What is your schedule like? 

Of all the questions that they should have to ask you, a personal trainer will show they’re considering your schedule, as well as your fitness, with this question.

You want to make sure that you and your PT are adaptable and will consider your other commitments, not just your dedication and fitness levels.

Do you have a time frame in mind for when you want to achieve your goals? 

This gives you the opportunity to provide any particular events or timescales you have in mind. You might want to lose weight for a wedding or tone up for an upcoming holiday.

This question will prove a personal trainer is considering any dates you already have in mind, and should adapt your programme accordingly. 

What’s the extent of your previous experience in the gym?

Anything to do with your experience will be good questions to ask you. A personal trainer can be more specific with your programme if they know exactly what your fitness levels are.

Knowing about any prior experience will prevent wasting any time, instructing you on things you already know, and will ensure you have the ideal regime. 

What’s your budget?

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Your budget should dictate how many sessions you have. The reason this is one of the most important question to ask is that a personal trainer needs to optimise results based on how long you can afford to train. 

If a trainer designs a long term regime, way beyond your budget, you’ll have to stop before you see any results!

So, the reason this is in our selection of good questions to ask a personal trainer before hiring them is that this will show how attentive they are.

If they ask for all of this information, before you’ve even started training, this should reassure you about how thorough, and specific, their training will be for you. 

#11 - How Long Will it Take Me To Achieve My Goals? 

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While PTs can’t put an exact time stamp on the moment you’ll achieve your goals, they should still be able to provide an approximation.

This is another one of the questions to ask a personal trainer to determine how they’ll hold you accountable. If they can tell you roughly how long it should take to get results, they can use this to motivate you to maintain your own responsibilities.

This question is also a good way of finding out whether the personal trainer is selling you unrealistic goals. 

For example, if your fitness goal is to put on muscle, it’s important to recognise that this is a slow process. 

According to A Workout Routine, the average man can build between 0.25-0.5 pounds of muscle per week and women, 0.12-0.25. This is based on 3-4 workouts per week. 

It’s worth bearing in mind more specific questions to ask your personal trainer, about figures like these, when you’re determining whether they’re misleading you.

So, it’s important to recognise that each individual’s fitness journey is different and they will achieve their goals at different times. 

It’s equally important to make sure that PTs don’t take advantage of your lack of fitness knowledge by selling you an unrealistic goal.

Have a look at OriGym’s article on SMART fitness goals. This is one of the criterias a good personal trainer will use to set goals for their clients. 

#12 - Do You Provide All of My Exercise Needs or Do I Need to Train Alone? 

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This is another one of the best questions to ask your personal trainer relating to accountability. You want to know exactly what is expected of you, as well as exactly the level of support they’ll provide.

These are all good questions to ask as your personal trainer should be able to tell you exactly what will be expected of you before you start your programme.

Obviously this depends on the clients’ schedule but a trainer should give you extra things to do outside of their sessions.

Unless you’re seeing your PT 4-5 times per week (in which case your days off are for resting), they should provide examples of ways that you can keep active or how to go about your programme independently. 

Having questions to ask your personal trainer about when you’ll be working with and without them will give you an idea of their dedication.

This will ensure you feel prepared and ready each time you walk into the gym. 

#13 - When is the Gym at its Busiest? 

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Another one of the top questions to ask your personal trainer is what time of day the gym is busiest. 

Knowing which times are best to avoid will help you to get the most out of your time with a personal trainer. Asking when the gym is busiest will certainly facilitate this.

You want to try and slot your PT session around these busy periods. As they can be expensive, the last thing you want to do is have to wait in line to use a machine before you can be instructed on how to use it.

Conversely, if you’re new to using gym equipment, you’re going to want to use it at your own pace without the worry of a fellow gym-goer looming over your shoulder waiting to use it. 

This will add unnecessary pressure to your session and run the risk of incorrect form and technique. 

Your weekly schedule will, of course, influence whether it’s possible to avoid these busy periods.

We’d encourage you to make sure you ask these questions. You have to ask a personal trainer when they will have the most time for you to boost your chances of getting a thorough workout each time.

#14 - Do You Have a PT Website and/or Social Media Links? 

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Asking potential trainers whether they have their own social media pages or website is a good way to gain insight into their business and passion. 

The reason these are good questions to ask is that a personal trainer should use these platforms to promote themselves.

Whether it’s to show you what to expect, tell you their particular specialties, or show how they’ve helped previous clients through photographs and testimonials.

Moreover, following their social media accounts may help to keep you galvanized. Client testimonials, motivational posts, funny fitness memes and perhaps healthy meal ideas can all be inspiring. 

Having these questions to ask a personal trainer before hiring them will also mean you can see what additional services are available. 

They may even have promotions or loyalty schemes, sometimes only available online, where you might get a discounted session for being a new client or after you’ve completed so many. 

Have a look at our list of the best virtual PTs to see what the best websites will look like, and what details should be included!

#15 - How Much Does Your Programme Cost? 

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Last but not least on the list of questions to ask a personal trainer is “how much does your programme cost?” 

Now, this may be a question that you feel a little uncomfortable asking, especially if you’ve already discussed your fitness wants and needs with a PT.

It’s important not to be shy about discussing this though. It’s important to know some good questions to ask a personal trainer about their prices as much as it is for them to know your budget. 

At the end of the day, it’s your money and you should know up front, and as clearly as possible, where it’s going. 

Prices may be higher for more established PTs. This is because their services are likely to be of higher value than somebody who has only just qualified. 

The average personal trainer prices vary between £25-£45 for an hour-long session. 

If you feel awkward about having to let a PT down due to their prices, consider prefacing your questions with:

“I am currently in the process of meeting with several PTs to find one that’s right for me. To see whether we’d be a good fit, is it okay if I ask you some questions and then I’ll get back to you about my decision?” 

Saying this beforehand is beneficial because then you know exactly what your position is. This is why there should be some questions to ask you before a personal trainer can see whether they’re suitable. 

If they know your budget, and you know their prices, you both avoid disappointment and wasting each other’s time. 

If you do decide to go elsewhere, make sure you drop them a text, call, email or social media message to inform them so they know where they stand. 

So, there we have it: 15 good questions to ask a personal trainer before hiring them. Asking each will help you make an informed decision of which personal trainer is best for you, especially if you’re shopping around to find the best fit. 

FAQs

We’ll now run through some additional FAQs that you may have about this topic.

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How Do I Prepare For My First Personal Training Session? 

Once you’ve decided which questions to ask fitness instructors, getting prepared for your first session is the next step. 

Here are some quick tips on how you can prepare for your first personal training session:

Make sure you know the date and time! The last thing you want to do when meeting your PT for your first session is turning up at the wrong time. Be sure to take a note of the date and time of your first session so you know exactly when to turn up.

Get appropriate attire: Make sure you take appropriate footwear as well as a mix of clothes for different activities. 

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You can take these with you and get changed at the gym, or turn up in your clothes already. 

If you’re looking for the best attire to get you started, check out some of our other articles below:

Have a snack beforehand: You don’t want to eat a 3-course meal before working out, but you also won’t benefit from eating nothing. Instead, opt for healthy snacks beforehand to boost your energy levels and prepare you for your workout.

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Get a water bottle: As you know, you’ll likely break a sweat during your workout so hydration is key. 

Keep a good quality water bottle to hand so you can move around and sip throughout your session, to stop feeling sick or dizzy.

Enjoy it: It’s completely normal to feel a little nervous before arriving for your first PT session. However, remember that your PT is there to help you achieve your fitness goals and support you on your journey. 

Take a deep breath beforehand and try to enjoy it as much as you can! 

How Can I Impress My Personal Trainer During My First Session? 

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Though you want to show your personal trainer that you’re trying your hardest, and probably want to impress them, you don’t want to tire yourself out!

Through the initial assessments you’ve already provided information about your abilities. By answering questions that they have to ask, your personal trainer should be aware of your limitations and know how much to push you.

Instead of overexerting yourself, listen carefully to what your train is saying and act accordingly.

You should always try to push yourself, but not so much that you go outside of your capabilities. 

At the end of the day, the main things that will impress your PT are showing up on time, having a can-do attitude, and actively taking their advice on board. 

Before You Go! 

Putting your faith, time, and money into someone to assist with your fitness goals can be daunting. 

Hopefully now you know some of the best questions to ask a personal, before hiring them, to make sure you’re as confident in their abilities as possible.

Don’t forget to have a look at our downloadable course prospectus for more details on what your trainer should be qualified in!

Remember, if you’re feeling inspired to start your own career in fitness you can register your interest or find out more about our personal trainer courses here.

  

Written by Emily Evans

Content Writer & Fitness Enthusiast

Emily studied English Language and Literature at the University of Sheffield, graduating in 2021 with a 2:1 BA honours degree. Alongside her degree, she also gained experience in student publication as Forge Press’ Lifestyle Editor and Deputy Editor for Post-Production. This is where her love for content writing stemmed from, which also led her to OriGym. Outside of her work, Emily will either be found on a long hike, at the gym or making a mess trying new healthy recipes in her kitchen!

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