I recently read an article in one of them about finding what kind of Client suits you best as a Trainer. I won't go into too much detail, but it involved the psychological aspect of the Client/Trainer relationship. From a Trainer point of view, it was pretty good information.
So I'm going to kind of flip that into what kind of Trainer suits you as a potential Client. Because, and I'm just assuming here, you want a Trainer.
So here's what I think you should look for in a Trainer, in no specific order because everything is relative:
1) Education!! Does your perspective trainer have a degree or a weekend certification? Is it nationally recognized or just a fly by night? Is your trainer just lucky enough to have good genetics so they look like they know what they're talking about? Can they pronounce Coccyx? Doesn't that look Russian? Well, it isn't, it's your butt-bone.
Lateral view of the bone in your ass.
Frontal view of a Slavic Bad Ass.
3) Experience Again. Just how long has your trainer been doing this? Weigh this against the previous options above. For instance, a trainer that has been doing this forever will know all the tried and true methods, but may be in the dark or possibly even be unwilling to try new concepts. Whereas a trainer fresh out of school will have all the up to date information, but may not know how to effectively convey and utilize it. Is your money going towards their education or their experience, and which is worth more to you?
4) Attitude. Do you see your trainer respecting the facility and members both on the clock and on the floor? Do you see your perspective trainer working out and leaving weights around, clogging equipment with supersets, etc? You need to determine if you want a trainer that's there just to get the job done, or one that goes the extra distances to make sure every member is getting the most for their time.
5) Methodology and Technique. And you know what? Safety goes right in here too. In order to progress you have to push, but to what to degree? Does your trainer leave clients in a puddle of sweat, bent over and holding their knees? Does your trainer push clients into moving so much weight that their form goes to shit? You have to decide if you want to push like that and determine what the risks are. (Your trainer should be willing to explain any risks.)
6) Integrity. Is your trainer pushing you to take Protein, Creatine, BCAA's, Test Boosters, Beta Alanine, Pre-Workout's or any of that shit? Do you know what that stuff does? Hell, does your trainer? Do your research on any and all supplements to determine if you really do need them. Nobody should pushing you to take anything without your full consent and acknowledgement of what/why it is needed. On the other hand, some people feel supplementation gives them the extra edge. You need to decide.
What is this? What exactly does it do?
(On a side note, at some gyms the Trainers unfortunately are told to try to sell you all that, their paycheck may depend on it. So communicate with your trainer.)
7) Money. Can you afford to have trainer? Can you afford NOT to have trainer? Is your money better spent on Beach Body or P90X home videos?
Well look, if you find a trainer that meets any of your expectations on items One through Six, you'd be silly not to at least try a few sessions. An honest trainer won't promise you ludicrously grandiose results.
But having both the accountability and direction of a good trainer is worth more than the nasty gas inducing shakes you'll have in your cupboard for years, it's worth more than that nifty Insanity coffee table book, it's worth more than all those home workout DVD's you have taking up space.
Metaphorical on a couple of different levels.
If you'd spend time shopping around for a car, apartment, bicycle, or even a good place to eat, then take some time determining what kind of trainer you want. Do a handful of sessions with them. And if you end up not liking them, trade them out. Find the trainer that is compatible with you.