Vet your next on-site personal trainer: 7 questions to ask

Many times, employees who want to get healthy and fit will run into what I call “impersonal trainers.” These types of trainers reuse the same workout programs for every employee, no matter how varied their fitness levels are. They rarely explain proper form, log each employee’s progress, or motivate employees to meet and set new goals. Even worse, the trainers seem to spend more time staying on the phone than staying on top of an employee’s workout.

Sure, that’s an extreme example on the personal-training spectrum. But it happens, especially if on-site trainers without strong credentials and years of practical experience are found in the workplace. This can lead to a potentially dangerous situation for employees.

The dangers of personal trainers who aren’t well trained

The Bureau of Labor Statistics says that jobs for fitness trainers and instructors are expected to grow 13% from 2018 to 2028.1 One reason for this is that more and more businesses see the advantages of health and fitness programs for their workers.

But it’s vital to hire personal trainers who are experts in their field — and who are always seeking to learn more — to make sure your on-site fitness setup offers the safest and healthiest workouts. Otherwise, it could lead to harmful situations for employees, such as:

  • A greater risk of injury
  • Taking uninformed advice from trainers
  • Suffering an imbalance in their bodies over time
  • Neglected recovery

Ask the right questions to find the right personal trainer

Happily, there are hundreds of great personal trainers out there. These fitness professionals are dedicated to the health and well-being of every person they train. They combine academic and practical experience to help your employees meet their fitness goals.

To help you find the right on-site team of personal trainers for your organization, use this list of seven insightful questions to guide you.

Checklist of questions to ask an on-site personal training team

  1. Does your fitness staff have degrees in kinesiology or exercise science?
    • A four-year degree in the field sets a wonderful foundation for exercise knowledge and application.
  1. Does your fitness staff maintain accreditation from the National Commission for Certifying Agencies (NCCA) as Certified Personal Trainers (CPTs)?
    • This requires continuing education to maintain.
  1. Does your fitness staff hold secondary fitness certifications?
    • It demonstrates continued learning and specialization.
  1. Is your staff encouraged to attend live continuing education conferences?
    • Discovering and applying new exercise techniques is best done through experiential learning. Thankfully there are many “learn by doing” type conferences available to exercise professionals throughout the year.
  1. How often does your staff reassess clients?
    • Tracking employee progress and having a scheduled timeframe to do that demonstrates a more thorough, clinical approach to training.
  1. Does your staff have to perform objective movement screens?
    • All employees should be screened with this tool before they take part in workout programs. It’s designed to spot movement patterns that show a greater risk of injury that may be remedied by a personalized exercise prescription. Every on-site fitness team should use the tool.
  1. Does your staff have to design programs weeks and months in advance? And do they need to accurately document all training sessions?

This demonstrates structure and organization based on the employee’s goals and movement screen. Trainers should be able to walk employees through the exercise program. They should also show how the exercise plan changes over time.

Look for a team of on-site fitness professionals who are NCCA accredited and savvy about the ever-changing fitness industry. Then you can expect to reap the rewards of safe, productive training practices.


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Join the conversation. Do you have on-site personal trainers at your organization? Tell us about your experience with them in the comments below or on our social media pages.



About the author

PeterParasility_HeadshotPeter D. Parasiliti, MS, CSCS
Director of Fitness Education, Optum On-site Physical Activity

Peter is the director of Fitness Education and focuses on Optum On-site’s curricula development and delivery. He’s been working in the fitness industry since 2004, and has his master’s degree in exercise science with an emphasis in rehabilitation. He is a certified strength and conditioning specialist through the National Strength and Conditioning Association and holds many other fitness certifications. Peter is also an adjunct assistant kinesiology professor at Los Angeles City College, where he developed the college’s Personal Training Certificate program and teaches all of the kinesiology major curricula.




  1. Bureau of Labor Statistics. Fitness Trainers and Instructors. Occupational Outlook Handbook. Last modified Sept. 4, 2019. Accessed Feb. 28, 2020.

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