If you decide to hire a personal trainer, good communication will be critical to meeting your fitness goals, says Bridgit Kin-Charlton, owner of B-defined Innovative Personal Training & Wellness in Williamsburg, Va.
* Talk about specific goals. What do you want most: to lose a certain amount of weight, tone your arms, have a flatter stomach or maybe run a 5K in a certain amount of time? Let your trainer know.
* Relay your history. If you've tried to shape up before, share what worked for you and what didn't. Be honest about your pitfalls, such as a tendency to load up on junk food and skip workouts after a stressful day at work.
* Be upfront about health problems. Your trainer should know about medications that affect heart rate or blood pressure; chronic conditions such as heart disease, diabetes or stroke; recent surgeries; sleep patterns; and general stress level.
* Share what motivates you. Some people thrive on gentle encouragement, while others prefer a bit of in-your-face barking. Weigh-ins also are negotiable, Kin-Charlton says: "Some clients are motivated by getting on the scale each week; others go into a state of depression."
* Give feedback. If you hated or loved a certain workout, don't be afraid to say so. Your trainer may be able to work in more of what you like -- or at least explain why you're doing a routine.
* Be honest. If you've skipped any diet or exercise "homework" your trainer gave you, admit it. Don't pretend you've been walking 30 minutes daily if you haven't.
* Get contact information. Many trainers will share an e-mail address or cell phone number for communication on days you're not together.