You’ve decided to get into better shape. Great! Physical fitness is one of the keys to good health and a long life. And you’ve decided to enlist the help of a personal trainer. Terrific! Having someone there to show you how to best reach your goals — and to keep you safe and motivated — is a great way to stay on track.

Now comes the hard part (and we’re not talking about cardio days). How do you find the right trainer? After all, from fitness centers to in-home services, there are hundreds of potential personal trainers in the Region — and not everyone will be a good fit for every client. So we checked with three of them for tips on finding and keeping a personal trainer.

Finding prospects

When it comes to looking for a trainer, the first steps are ones you might take with any other product or service: internet research and personal recommendations.

“Ask your friends and family members who they work with,” says Lisa Crowder, a personal trainer at Franciscan Health Fitness Centers Schererville. “Word-of-mouth really goes a long way in this business, and the opinion you’re getting is from someone you can trust.”

After reading some trainer bios online or talking with friends and family, make a short list of potential candidates and reach out to meet with them to get a feel for their style and personality.

Meet market

In that initial session, look for some of the key attributes of a lasting trainer-client relationship. To Crowder, that starts with comfort and trust.

“This should be someone you can be completely honest with and really bare all,” she says. “If you don’t get that feeling, it probably isn’t going to work out over the long haul.”

Ask questions to see whether the trainer’s answers align with your beliefs and comfort level.

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“Some of the things to ask about upfront include credentials, experience and any specialties he or she may have,” says Debora Paradiso, a personal training supervisor at Community Hospital Fitness Pointe in Munster. “This is also a good opportunity to assess the trainer’s communication skills to get a feel for whether this person is going to be able to explain things to you in a manner that makes sense and is easy to follow.”

Pressure points

It helps to come into that initial meeting with a decent idea of fitness goals, as well as any medical restrictions or past injuries you can share.

“Coming to a trainer with a realistic goal is important to give the trainer a clear direction,” says Annette Bowman, a personal trainer also at Fitness Pointe in Munster. “It’s also important to remember weaknesses or issues that may need to be addressed prior to reaching that initial goal. Being open to address these first is vital for the sake of reaching the goal safely.”

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Bowman says a trainer also may be able to assist with goal-setting.

“If a client wants to improve his or her fitness level but does not have a specific goal in mind, a trainer can help by asking the right questions to gather feedback or perform an assessment to collect data for the client,” she says. “This feedback and information can help the client set realistic goals.”

Cutting bait

Despite every effort to screen for a good working relationship with a trainer, sometimes it becomes clear that the dynamic just isn’t working out. Crowder says that anytime you’re coming away from sessions with injuries or pain that the trainer isn’t attentive to (outside of the usual soreness associated with working out), or if the trainer does anything to cause discomfort, it’s probably time to move along. Paradiso’s signs to watch for run along many of the same lines.

“Sometimes the personalities are not a good match, or you feel that your trainer is not listening to your needs and isn’t on the same page with you,” she says. “In other cases, the trainer may have the client repeatedly doing activities that they don’t enjoy, or the trainer is too aggressive and has the client doing activities that are too advanced that could result in injury. Or it may be something as simple as a client or trainer continuously being late for appointments. In any of these situations, it may be best to find another arrangement.”

“At the end of every session, you should feel good,” Crowder says. “You might be tired or sore or winded, but you should have a positive feeling. That’s what this is all about.”

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