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They're popular and they get results, but making a good match takes effort.

It once was that personal fitness trainers were exclusively for the super rich, sighted by us normal folks only in paparazzi photographs of a celebrity's entourage. But as fitness centers have spread throughout the country and the number of personal fitness trainers has increased, getting your own has become a real possibility for the average person, says Patrick Hagerman, EdD, a professor of exercise and sports science at the University of Tulsa.

"They're really much more affordable than people would think," says Hagerman, who is also a board member of the National Strength and Conditioning Association and owns Quest Personal Training in Oklahoma City.

Nor are personal fitness trainers just for the buff, spandex-sporting crowd, says Fred Klinge, chairman of the Health and Registry Board at the American College of Sports Medicine. Klinge emphasizes that the scope of personal fitness trainers has broadened. "It's not just about weight lifting and cardio work anymore," he tells WebMD. "It's more about assistance in developing a healthy and fit lifestyle."

Although there haven't been too many, some studies have shown that personal trainers can help people stick to their exercise routines more effectively than they would on their own, according to Cedric Bryant, PhD, chief exercise physiologist at the American Council on Exercise (ACE). But for someone who hasn't had any experience with personal trainers, figuring out how to get one can be daunting.

Who Needs a Personal Trainer?

You may ask yourself why you would benefit from a personal trainer. After all, why should you pay for somebody to tell you to exercise when you can just go and exercise for free?

But for some, having a person to answer to really helps provide motivation. After all, if we never got scolded by our teachers and parents for not doing our homework when we were kids, a lot of us would still be in the second grade. Knowing that you have someone who will take you to task can make a difference.

Hagerman sees a lot of practical advantages to having a personal fitness trainer. "It saves time and it reduces injuries," he says. "You have someone who can help you figure out what exercises you need to do and how the equipment works rather than wasting time figuring it out on your own.

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