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Selecting a personal fitness trainer

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.

Business practices

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.







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