For more on selecting a good personal trainer or a fitness center, visit the ICAA's Age-Friendly Guides page.
Older adults have a wide range of abilities and needs, from the active golfer seeking a pain-free swing to the house-bound person who needs strength for the activities of daily living. Personal fitness trainers likewise have a wide range of skills and abilities.
For help selecting a personal fitness trainer, use the "Age- Friendly Personal Fitness Trainer Checklist" published by the International Council on Active Aging (ICAA). Look for a trainer who has a Yes beside most questions.
Age-Friendly Personal Fitness Trainer Checklist
Y N Does the trainer have at least two years of experience as a trainer?
Y N Does that include experience training clients my age?
Y N Will the exercise program be based on an individual
assessment of my goals, abilities and health status?
Y N Has the trainer worked with people with my medical conditions?
(eg, arthritis, diabetes or back pain)?
Y N Has the trainer worked before with a physical therapist or a physician?
Y N Does the trainer know about exercise limitations for the medications I take?
Y N Does the trainer have education in exercise sciences and program design?
Y N Is there specific education in gerontology or the changes that occur as people age?
Y N Does the trainer have a personal training certification?
Y N Is there a resource (advisory board, professor, colleagues) the trainer uses to
answer questions and generate ideas?
Y N Does the trainer feel that you should "work through" pain you feel during exercise?
(The answer should be "no.")
Y N Does the trainer recommend a diet or supplement?
(The answer should be "no" unless the trainer is also a registered or licensed dietitian.)
Y N The trainer has told me what to expect from the sessions.
Y N My time commitment, including days exercising on my own, is clear.
Y N The trainer seems to have a sense of humor and personality that I like.
Y N The trainer listened carefully to my questions and answered them.
Y N The clothes, posture and verbal skills are a good match for me.
Y N I think I can spend several hours a week with this trainer.
Y N The trainer can work in my home (if applicable).
Y N I will receive written invoices and records of my sessions for my family and insurance company.
Y N The trainer offers other services I'm interested in, e.g., referral to a dietitian or massage therapy.
Y N The costs of the session are clearly stated.
Y N There is a cancellation policy I understand.
Y N The trainer will give me references to past clients.
Y N If coming to the house, the trainer is insured or bonded.
For more insight on evaluating a trainer's answers to these questions - or selecting an age-friendly fitness center, visit the ICAA's Age-Friendly guides page.