What questions should customers think through before talking to professionals about their project?
This business has a lot of gimmicks and people trying to reinvent the wheel. Gyms are filled with expensive equipment that your average trainee doesn't really need. When I trained at a gym I was always leading clients into the aerobics room with a couple sets of dumbells. Some machines, like a lat pulldown, definitely serve a purpose but there are too many $5000 machines that don't compare to free weights in terms of overall benefits. Good trainers can train in a state of the art facility or on a playground.
There are also lots of philosophies, and tools that invariably end up with their own certifications and classes. For instance, I like training with occasionally sandbags but I don't think it is necessary to have a certificate for training with sandbags. Believe it or not, there is a certification offered for training with sandbags. I try and evolve with my clients and play to their strengths while improving their weaknesses. So one day we might sprint/run, and another we might hit weights, or bodyweight exercises. Not being married to one particular exercise equipment or philosophy allows me to do that, - using the clients cues instead of letting what's on the clipboard dictate what we are going to do today.