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Go virtual! Finding an online personal trainer
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What is your exercise personality?  
 
SLIDESHOW:  |   
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Find a legitimate personal trainer
Once you've decided on which type of training you prefer, compare trainers based on qualifications and personality. You want someone you have a connection with.

Finding a personal trainer certainly proves to be a more straightforward task when looking in person versus online. Word of mouth and the ability to see and talk with the trainer -- possibly even engaging in trial sessions with the workout coach -- make for easy ways to check out the legitimacy of and your chemistry with the instructor.

Unfortunately, the same cannot be said for finding one online: Testimonials and certifications could be real or bogus, and you never get to see the personal trainer.

The trainers we spoke with suggest researching a few instructors to find the one best suited to your needs. There are three key points to consider when seeking the trainer to get you on the fit side of life.

1. Check for certifications.
While certifications might not seem as important if you can talk to your trainer and get references in person, it's one of the few ways to evaluate online trainers.

Typically, trainers will list any certifications they have on their Web sites. Note however, that not all certifications come from accredited certification organizations such as the American Council on Exercise, National Academy of Sports Medicine, National Council on Strength and Fitness, National Federation of Professional Trainers or the National Strength and Conditioning Association. A personal trainer certified with the NSCA certainly will have passed a more rigorous test than someone certified through a local gym. Some certificate programs are simply a weekend seminar, says McMillian.

Tryner suggests searching for the trainer's name on the organization's Web site to verify the certification.

2. Interview several trainers. Ask lots of questions.
This is a good thing to do, especially with online trainers. Always speak with the person by phone before signing up for a program. To find out how competent the trainer is, ask questions you already know the answer to, says McMillian. If you've had a history of injuries, and you've received exercise advice from your doctor, ask the trainer how you'd workout with these injuries. If the doctor's advice is beyond the trainer's expertise, the trainer should say she doesn't know but will look up the answer for you.

3. Check out the trainer's appearance.
While the trainer's physique doesn't guarantee what yours will look like after working with one, you still want a trainer who looks the part, just as a dentist should have attractive teeth. You can check the trainer's Web site, but you may want to check to see if it's a recent photo.

Get moving
If you're still wondering whether you can get to the gym without the push of a personal trainer, look at your recent workout history. "If you can't motivate yourself, and you're missing a few months of working out, then there's something in that cycle that you have to break," says Tryner. That something just might be a personal trainer.

Bankrate.com's corrections policy -- Posted: May 31, 2006
 
 
More stories by Leslie Hunt
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