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Your First Exercise: Pick Coach

January 07, 2002

Health-minded coaches can be found at gyms, local colleges, through a doctor, or just by looking in the phone book. Because credentials and chemistry count, make sure both are a fit.

* Decide how often you want to see a trainer. Some people need frequent support. Others need to be assessed and started on a program, perhaps initially meeting the trainer two or three times a week, then once or twice a month.

* Choose where to meet. Maybe you need the trainer to come to your home, or maybe you'd rather meet at a gym or studio where there's more equipment.

* When interviewing trainers, ask about their background and credentials (they should be certified by a nationally recognized organization), as well as the types of clients they most typically work with. In other words, do they specialize in heart patients, elite patients, seniors or the obese? Check to make sure the trainers know CPR, and ask how your progress will be charted. Get references from other clients.

* And, of course, talk money. Costs for one hour with a personal trainer range from $20 to $75; most charge between $25 and $50. You can often get multi-session discounts, and split the fee if you make it semiprivate and work out with your spouse or a friend. The costs do add up, but most advocates see the money spent as an investment in their health. It's cheaper than illness.

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