Personal training is a largely unregulated industry. For those not privy to the fitness industry, it can be difficult to size up a personal trainer and make an educated decision on the first meeting.
Where to find a personal trainer
The very best way to get connected with a personal trainer is through a trusted referral. Ask around your social circles and family if anyone has had experience (good or bad) with a trainer. If the person is local, you will likely be able to work with the same trainer. If not, be sure to ask about the training experience. Most gyms will have a personal training staff or host outside trainers. If you are already a member of a health club, ask for a consultation - this should be free. If you are still looking into joining a gym, this should be a service that you ask about before joining. There are also boutique gyms that serve as personal training studios. Don't be afraid to shop around and get to know several trainers.
Before sitting down or working out with a trainer, be clear about your own goals. You are not at the mercy of what the trainer wants to do or what he or she specializes in. Have specific questions regarding things that are most important to you and what you may be struggling with. Ask about their education and experience. Describe your particular situation and ask if they have an example of someone similar they helped. Ask for testimonials! If you are convinced the trainer is well qualified to help you, now is the time to find out if you will mesh with his or her personality and workout style. Will this type of person motivate and inspire? Or is there a lack of energy and attention to detail? Do you prefer a drill-instructor approach or something more laid back?
Finally, a trainer should be able to offer support in some way outside of workout sessions. Ask if workout programs can be made and given to do between 1 on 1 sessions. Nutrition and lifestyle coaching may be required to accomplish your goals as well. A well-rounded personal trainer should be able to support you in all of these areas. Lay out your expectations of them and ask for their expectations of you. Having an honest and up-front relationship from the start will mitigate future issues.