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What to look for in a personal trainer

Gym etiquette

Blend in with the regulars by:

  • wiping down equipment after using it, so the next person doesn’t contact your sweat
  • returning weights or dumbbells to racks when you’re finished using them
  • staying toward the back of the room when you’re new to group exercise classes, so you can learn the choreography without distracting the regulars
  • keeping quiet by not singing along to your iPod or talking on your cell phone

Thinking about joining a gym, but you haven’t exercised since leg warmers were in style? Consider hiring a personal trainer. Not only will you get customized exercise routines to meet your preferences and goals, but you’ll also learn how to work out with proper technique to maximize your efforts. Additionally, scheduling workout sessions with a trainer should motivate you to make it to the gym regularly. And trainers track your progress over time, so they can tell you when you’ve made notable improvements. Here’s what to seek in a personal trainer.

Certification. Be sure the trainer is currently certified by one of the 10 fitness agencies accredited by the National Commission for Certifying Agencies; ask to see a copy of the certificate. Also ask how much and what kind of experience a prospective trainer has. Check the trainer’s references.

Rapport. Pick someone you get along with so you “want” to do those five extra sit-ups. Avoid someone who motivates with negative reinforcement.

Compatibility. Will you exercise at home or the gym? In the morning or night? Your trainer’s schedule should match your needs.

Cost. Trainers affiliated with fitness centers may be less expensive than those who make home visits. If money is tight, see if you can split training sessions—and costs—with a friend.

Also try word of mouth. A friend’s or relative’s recommendation can help you find a trainer you love.

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