Since graduating college in 2008, I've worked at numerous commercial gyms before finally opening my own warehouse gym. Whenever I meet new people who want to get into training, I explain to them how difficult the field is. What most people don't understand is how oversaturated the world is with lousy “personal trainers.”

To become a certified trainer, all you need to do is pay a few hundred dollars and take a crappy weekend course and your certification is in the mail. While in college, I wasted my money on one of these courses. To maintain these certifications, you must perform a certain amount of continuing education units (CEU). This means pay some money and do a class online or pay some money and fill out a survey in a watered down magazine. I'm proud to say that I'm no longer a “certified personal trainer.” Instead of wasting money, I traveled the country to learn from the best in the world! Minus the NSCA's CSCS, I wouldn't consider taking any of these classes.

Any commercial gym you join will have trainers who claim to be experts. Below are some things that will help you determine whether or not that trainer is the right coach for you.

1. Does the trainer brag about his education? If you meet a trainer who won’t stop talking about the certifications he's earned, go elsewhere. For the past two years, I haven’t been certified and have never had a parent of a client ask me about my training certifications. It doesn’t hurt that most of these kids are earning all state and scholarships. Generally, if someone is his own biggest hype man, there's a reason for it…

2. Is he constantly increasing his knowledge? This doesn't mean CEU classes like I spoke of earlier. Whenever I go to weekend seminars and my kids ask why the gym will be closed, I jokingly tell them that if they didn’t keep getting better, I wouldn’t need to. Any serious trainer should be learning from proven greats. Will you become a better trainer doing an online course or attending an elitefts™ "Learn to Train" seminar?

3. Do you need to pay for a screening? Many trainers and/or gyms will require all new members/clients to pay X amount for a basic screening. During this hour, they will break the individual down to determine imbalances and then customize a workout routine for what that person needs. In other words, they're stealing your money!

Any good trainer should be screening each client on every repetition of every workout. Some high level athletes that I've been working with for over a year still go through this in each workout. Personally, I use body weight movements as well as sprint techniques to determine what imbalances the athlete has and what we need to do to correct it. Many “certified personal trainers” may not have a clue how to do this, which goes back to point number two.

4. Is he a functional training guru? It seems like the whole functional training craze is beginning to die out (thanks God). What I'm talking about here is the fitness expert who is having his clients balance on stability balls or squat off Bosu balls. I’m pretty sure learning how to correctly lift things off the ground (deadlift) is much more functional than these things. To me, functional training is deadlifts, squats, weighted walks, and things that will actually benefit you in the real world.

5. Does the trainer walk the talk? It’s hard for me to believe that someone is a strength and conditioning specialist when he has never even had his body weight on his back. All trainers should be doing what they preach to their clients. I've never had any client of mine perform a movement or workout that I haven't put myself through first. Remember—talk is cheap!

6. Are you seeing results? Results don’t lie! The reason I love the fitness industry is because it’s a profession based solely on results. There will always be local trainers hating the warehouse gym owner. Let them. If you don’t have haters, you’re doing something wrong! In the meantime, parents, coaches, and teammates aren’t blind. They know very well that if the top percentage of athletes are training at your gym, it isn’t a coincidence.

7. Does the trainer really care? A quote from Joe DeFranco that has stuck in my head for years now is, “If you get your clients results and give a shit, you're going to have to turn people down.” The reason the top trainers are where they are is because they care! Each and every client they deal with is a reflection on them and they will do everything in their power to maximize results for the individual. If you’re in this field for the money, do everyone and yourself a favor and find a new gig.

8. What is the trainer's title? This may not seem like much, but to me, it will explain everything you need. I personally refer to myself as a performance enhancement specialist. Strength coach, strength and conditioning specialist, performance coach—these are all names that the top tier of trainers will refer to themselves as because they don't want to be considered “personal trainers.” This is because these coaches have been in the trenches and have learned from the best. They know that a personal trainer isn’t anything.

Next time you're thinking of hiring a trainer to shed that extra weight or increase your performance on the playing field, use this list to screen the trainer and determine whether he's worth the investment. The point of this article isn't to bash commercial gym trainers. I'm sure there are many top level trainers working at these gyms throughout the world. However, realize that the top percentage of trainers generally start at these gyms and end up leaving to begin their own warehouse style gym. The best advice I can give you is find the closest warehouse gym in your area and sign up!