You know you need help with an exercise program. You know you could easily get hurt if you do not start right. You want to get results not waste your time. You're more than a little out of your comfort zone going to the “gym.” So a personal trainer looks a logical solution. How do you choose the right one. Here are four questions that you should ask a personal trainer before you write the check.

1. Are you currently certified? The emphasis is on current. You also need to know which certification. You could be with a trainer who went to a weekend workshop or one who has a Master's degree but you wont know without asking. Chances are you need to do some homework and find out from a reputable source which certificates really carry the most weight. While certification, nor a degree, alone does not guarantee your trainer will think on their feet, it helps.

2. Have you helped other clients with my condition and goals? Finding an experienced trainer is important, especially if you have a pre-existing injury or are recovering from one. Every trainer will have a client present with a condition for the first time at some point. Use your gut feeling about whether this trainer will interact with appropriate allied health professionals and do her homework on your behalf.

3. Do you have past clients I can contact? A good trainer has a list of prior client testimonials and should be eager to have you connect with them. Although a trainer will not likely give you contact information directly, she should be able to make a request of a prior client what agreed. If there's any stop on this process, observe the communication from the trainer. If it feels too slow or inadequate and you've not even begun to work with them, consider if a long term relationship will improve.

4. What is your cancellation policy? You do not want any surprises. If you have a job that requires sudden change of plans or you travel frequently, for instance, find out if this will be a problem. You can rack up charges for missed appointments without adequate notice. A trainer who is very clear on their policy from the beginning shows she takes both your results and her business seriously.

There are more personal trainers today than ever before. It is a rapidly growing field. However, there is a wide variety of knowledge base and experience level. Some trainers who have life experience may have become trainers as a second career with not a lot more than a passion for exercising themselves. Some young trainers have advanced degrees and a network of resources to interact with on your behalf.

Ask the right questions. Listen and be satisfied with your answers. The idea is that you'll enjoy spending time with this person while you benefit from her knowledge and guidance. Follow your gut and get input from others.

You can use online resources like IDEA's Fitness Connect to locate verified professionals in your area. A referral from a physical therapist or an orthapaedic doctor is probably a phone call away. In any case, interview more than one trainer before you invest in someone who will partner with you on your health goals.