An article in Chron Sports Running Notebook section noted “Consumers are more conscious of their finances than ever,” said Dr. Walter Thompson, lead author of the ACSM's trends survey. “If they're going to work with a fitness professional to improve their health, they're going to do their homework and find someone who's educated, experienced and certified by a reputable organization.”
I believe finding a trainer that is just right for you is extremely important. Not only can they develop a plan that is perfect for you and your goals, you also need to find someone that you enjoy spending time with. It is a very personal experience.
One of my clients stated the situation perfectly last week: "It is not that the average personal trainer gets up in the morning, comes to work and plans to hurt you, it just happens because they don't know what it feels like to be in pain all the time." A body that is fighting a chronic condition and/or aging is not going to feel like a 20-something's. Sad, but true. However, you want someone who had help you fight back gracefully.
As a trainer, I probably ask as many questions of my potential clients as they do of me, to see if I can help the achieve their goals. I firmly believe in the concept of knowing how the other person feels and goes through before you can offer any advise and support. For example, if you were a marathon runner or if you were training for Mr/Ms America, I am probably not the best trainer for you. I don't know how the body feels when it goes through that sort of exercise and, wear and tear. However, if you wake up sore and want to feel less sore each week, I can definitely help with that.
The ICAA has published a fantastic questionnaire to use when selecting a personal trainer. I think all the information is totally applicable even if you are not an older adult. Going into a gym for the first time is intimidating, but do not let them bully you into anything or anyone you are not comfortable with. You are the consumer.
A client who has just recently signed up with me did something wonderful, that I now think should be the gold standard in choosing a trainer; she interviewed each person at the gym she wanted to work out in and then made her decision. It is so simple and incredibly effective, yet it was the first time I (and other trainers I told) had seen it.