Finding the Perfect Personal Trainer

By: Rick Andreoli

Whether you're new to the gym or a seasoned body sculptor, hiring a personal trainer is a great way to enhance your workout. A good trainer can assess your fitness level, hear your goals, help you get on a path to achieving them, and do it all in a safe and challenging manner. So how do you find a good one?

We turned to celebrity trainer Mike Donavanik for answers. He's been featured in The Los Angeles Times, Reader’s Digest, Town & Country, Fitness, and Self, and when it comes to shaping up your life he's got some great insight. Mike offers a checklist so that you can make sure you're hiring the right person for the job.

Photos: iStock and

Mike Donavanik’s Criteria/Questions for Finding the Ideal Personal Trainer

What type of credentials does he/she have and are they up to date? The National Strength & Conditioning Association’s CSCS (Certified Strength & Conditioning Specialist) is the top certification a trainer can get; a Bachelor's degree is required to attain the certification. Aside from that, a CPT (Certified Personal Trainer) certification is required to be a personal trainer – there are many different certification companies out there but the best are the NSCA (National Strength & Conditioning Association) and the NASM (National Academy of Sports Medicine).

Any successful trainer should have a number of clients you can speak with about their own training experience. You should ask the clients about how their training went, what were their goals, did the trainer help them achieve these goals, and any questions you might have about their overall training experience.

Current Clients vs. Your Goals:
Ask the trainer about his or her current clients. Does your potential trainer work with a wide range of clientele or a very specific group? If he or she only trains a specific group, do you fall into that category? Are you looking to train for something specific or just general health? Do their current clients seem like they are training for similar goals you have? It's important to get a trainer who can work with your needs.

Do you and the trainer get along? Is he or she what you’re looking for in a trainer? Do your personalities mesh or collide? You know what you want – whether it’s to be pushed, to be held accountable, yelled at, guided, etc. Does your trainer fit the bill?

If you are looking to hire an independent trainer outside a health club, see if he or she liability insurance? If you were to get seriously injured while training, would your trainer have the liability insurance to cover it? None of us assume we'll be hurt, but it's better to be safe than sorry.

How committed is your trainer going to be to you? Will he or she be on time? Constantly cancel? Hold him/herself accountable? If they can’t hold themselves accountable, how will they be able to hold you accountable?

Mike Donavanik is the creator of Extreme Burn: Total Body Interval Training DVD. It's a six-week full body program, consisting for three workouts designed to dramatically drop pounds and enhance muscular performance. Each routine is jam-packed with dynamic compound strength moves and intense bursts of cardio that will fire up the metabolism, quickly shed unwanted fat, and build lean muscle to deliver maximum results. It's available for $19.95 on

Check out the trailer below.