Brought to you by the Department of Kinesiology and Health at Georgia State University.

Getting Started With An Exercise Program

What are the Benefits of Exercise?
Overcoming Obstacles
Is it Safe to Exercise? Do I Need to See My Doctor First?
How to Exercise
Choosing a Personal Trainer
How to Increase the Amount of Physical Activity in Your Life
Additional Resources

Overcoming Obstacles to Exercise:

Not enough time?
No equipment?
Too expensive?
What do I wear?

Do I need to see my doctor before I start?

In order to begin your exercise program safely and effectively, answer the following questions to the best of your knowledge, and follow the directions at the end of this section. If you are unsure of any answer, it is recommended that you see a doctor to accurately determine the safety of beginning an exercise program. If have been told by a physician that you have any cardiovascular disease, pulmonary disease, or metabolic disease such as diabetes, obtain permission from your doctor before beginning or changing your exercise program.
  1. Are you a man over 45 years old?
  2. Are you a women over the age of 55? Or, are you less than 55 years old and past menopause, but not taking estrogen?
  3. Has any male family member died of a heart attack before age 55? Or, has any female family member died of a heart attack before age 65?
  4. Do you smoke cigarettes?
  5. Has a doctor ever told you have high blood pressure? Or, has your blood pressure been measured more than once at greater than 140 over 90? Or, do you take high blood pressure medicine?
  6. Has your doctor ever told you that you have high cholesterol? Or, do you know if your total cholesterol is greater than 200? Or, is your HDL cholesterol less than 35?
  7. Do you consider yourself physically inactive at work and during your leisure time?
If you answered "yes" to more than one of these questions it is recommended that you see a doctor before pursuing a vigorous exercise program. Guidelines for Exercise Testing and Prescription, American College of Sports Medicine, 5th Edition, 1995.

Choosing a Personal Trainer:

Choosing the perfect personal trainer could be the difference between a successful exercise program and an unsuccessful program. Be very selective when choosing your personal trainer. Below are frequently asked questions that people looking for personal trainers often ask. Ask yourself these questions to determine if your personal trainer is the best for you.

Is the trainer within your budget?

You can expect to pay between $20 and $100 an hour for your trainer. Some trainers will offer reduced package rates if you buy more than one session.

Is your trainer available when you want to work out?

Make sure that the trainer can accommodate your schedule.

Does the trainer have a certification, degree, or background in a related medical or exercise science field?

A certification or degree will assure that your personal trainer has the ability to construct a program that will fit your needs. Make sure the certification is a national recognized organization (ACSM, NSCA, ACE, AFAA, IDEA, etc.). Every person's program should be different to accommodate different needs.

Does your trainer have a current certification in CPR and First Aid?

Safety during your exercise program is very important. The trainer needs to have the knowledge to assist in an emergency.

Does your trainer or facility require a health screening or release from your doctor before beginning your program?

If you have special needs during your program that are results of a past injury or medical problem, a professional trainer will discuss any exercise considerations with the doctor.

How does the personal trainer interact with his/her clients during the exercise session?

An interested personal trainer will use hands on help, such as touching the bicep during a bicep curl as you concentrate on that muscle during the exercise. If you are uncomfortable with hands on help, they need to provide encouragement and motivation. You probably will not want to pay $100 an hour for your personal trainer to only count your repetitions during the session. Demand more for your money.

Are you comfortable with you trainer's gender?

Some people like working with a trainer of the same sex, and others prefer the opposite sex.

Do you feel that you will get along with the trainer?

In order to have the best working relationship, you should make sure that you lie your trainers personality. The two personalities should click. Carefully interview the trainer to see what approach he or she would have with you.

Is your personal trainer willing to design a program that you understand?

You should always know why you are doing a certain exercise. Your program should be developed so that you can participate in the program without your trainer at all times.

Does your trainer exhibit good listening skills and communicate well?

You want your personal trainer to be able to address your need. If the trainer does not communicate effectively, you will not know what to do during the session. A professional trainer will never make you feel uncomfortable to ask questions.

Does your trainer address your goals or expectations?

In the beginning of your program, he/she should sit down with you to address why you want to begin a program, what you expect to get out of the program, and your goals that you want to achieve during the program.

Does your trainer provide you with clear cancellation policies and billing procedures?

Before beginning, make sure you understand all policies attached to your program.

Additional Resources:

        American Academy of Family Physicians
        Aerobics and Fitness Association of America
        The American Cancer Society
        The American Heart Association
        The American Diabetes Association
        National Institutes of Health

Return to The Exercise and Physical Fitness Web Page