Having been a personal trainer for over 20 years I’ve been asked this question many times. There are a lot of personal trainers out there and many are down right dangerous and can sometimes hurt an unsuspecting client. Do a Google search of “ Personal Trainer San Diego” and you will turn up hundreds. So how does someone know who is good, bad or “ugly”… so to speak? The best way is by a reliable referral but many times that can be wrong, especially if the source has different goals from you. You should start off by doing you’re own investigation if someone refers you to a Personal Trainer in Chicago or any other state for that matter.

I’ll start off by recommending you look at the type of certification your personal trainer has. I don’t like to talk negative about any individual or company; so I’ll just name the one’s I feel are top of the line when it comes to making sure your trainer is right for you. If a company isn’t listed it doesn’t mean they are not good, it’s just all a matter of opinion. My opinion was based on several factors:

  • 1) What certifications my peers have, who do I respect as a good Personal Trainers.
  • 2) What pre-requisites are required to obtain the certification? i.e. college degree or no background.
  • 3) How long the company has been in business?
  • 4) Is the company an industry leader in research and development when it comes to sports and fitness?
  • 5) What credentials do most of the Athletic Trainers hold, who work for many of the professional sports teams?
  • 6) Do they specialize in Personal Training certifications or do they dabble in many different areas related to fitness?


    7) Are their continuing education credits accepted by the top organizations in the field?

Here are some of the companies I feel are at the top of the fitness field in what they offer:

The NSCA (National Strength and Conditioning Association)
This certification is widely accepted and known as the gold standard in sports and fitness. It has all the credentials I’ve listed above and most respected professionals in the field who work for sports teams or write for fitness journals or magazines have one of these certifications.

The ACSM (American College of Sports Medicine)

This organization has many different types of certifications specializing in Clinical, Specialty and Health and Fitness. They are also known as an industry as a leader in Sports and Fitness. The ACSM is also a the top in the world of sports and fitness research and development.

The NASM (National Academy of Sports Medicine)

This certification is one that can be obtained without having a college related degree and is in my opinion the best one for trainers that do not have an advanced education in health and fitness such a Bachelors, Masters or Phd. The NASM also offers a variety of certifications for the fitness professional.

Another credential worth mentioning is if your Personal Trainer has an advanced degree like a Bachelors, Masters or Phd. in a fitness related field or has clinical work in a hospital or organized athletic program, like a college or sports team. These individuals usually possess knowledge of periodizing a program through different phases of the clients fitness level or season.

There are many other signs of a good personal trainer but as many people don’t realize there are certain signs differentiating a professional from someone in the business as a hobby or side job:

Are they on their cell phone while you’re working out?
Do they care for you as a person?
Do they show up late or leave you standing?
Do they spot you on all overhead movements?
Do they have a game plan or show up with nothing in hand and and act like they have a game plan and “wing it”?
(Lets face it, if they are a busy trainer how do they remember all the exercises every client does as well as the weight lifted)
Do they explain why they are doing things and change it up if you’re not seeing progress?
Does their body inspire you or do they look like they need a Personal Trainer themselves?
They should be insured and CPR certified.

Finding the right Personal Trainer is hard to do, because they not only have to be good at what they do, he/she should be professional, courteous, friendly and have a good personality. Personal Training is a service related industry and does not have a governing body to regulate who can call themselves a Personal Trainer and who cannot. Until the state or federal government decides to monitor the industry, people will have to use due diligence in who they select to help them reach their fitness goals.

Thanks for stopping by.