Get Fit Now!: All Your Fitness Questions Answered

How can I find a trainer who’ll work with my schedule and interests?
Call Fitness Finders, a Main Line-based fitness consulting service that pairs up clients with trainers. You can reach them at 610-246-7194 or 610-613-9814. Cost ranges from $65 to $110 per hour, depending on the trainer, which includes the referral fee.

I want to install a state-of-the-art home gym, but I don’t know where to start. Any ideas?
Our friends at Fitness Finders gave us two recommendations: Todd Altland of Atlantis Fitness Center, and Richard Barrack of Barrack’s Fitness. Both create in-home gyms and do personal training. You can reach either through Fitness Finders.

I’m a runner. Where can I find people like me?
Philadelphia has no shortage of running groups, most of which hold weekly runs. Some of the most popular: Philly Runners (; the Wissahickon Wanderers (; Bryn Mawr Running Club (; Fairmount Running Club (; and Frontrunners (

How can I be sure my trainer knows what he’s doing?
Workout injuries are a common problem, says Joseph Zarrett, a Center City physical therapist. Zarrett sees clients whose fitness programs end, not with rock-hard abs, but with ­broken-down bodies. Some tips:
• Know what kind of shape you’re in. A physical will reveal any hidden cardiovascular or joint problems.
• Know your trainer’s credentials. Ideally, you want someone who’s a Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist. The "C.S.C.S." after a trainer’s name means he or she has met the requirements of the National Strength and Conditioning Association. (Other certification groups aren’t as rigorous.)
• Make sure your workouts are balanced.
good workout should contain flexibility, strength and cardiovascular training. Watch out for unrealistic workouts and the "no pain, no gain" mentality.

What should I eat before and after I work out?
Anthony Molino, nutrition expert at the Sporting Club at the Bellevue, advises consuming 25 to 30 grams of complex carbohydrates (think oatmeal or pasta) about 90 minutes before workouts to provide consistent energy, and two to four ounces of protein to keep blood circulating to muscles. Afterward, repair damaged muscles with lean meats, and replace glycogen with simple carbohydrates — the kind you find in sports drinks.

What are the best shoes to wear when I exercise?
New Balance shoes provide great shock absorption and come in a variety of widths. Steven Schutzbank, a Philadelphia podiatrist, says correct width is important because it reduces friction that can cause chronic pain and the development of corns or calluses. Since feet tend to swell throughout the day, Schutzbank recommends trying on sneakers in the late afternoon to get the best fit.

Are female-only fitness chains like Curves really effective at helping women get in shape?
Yes. Some women can find gyms intimidating, and places like Curves provide a relaxed atmosphere that’s integral to creating a consistent, long-term fitness regime. "They’re clearly responding to a need for a more comfortable space," says Joel Fish, director of the Center for Sports Psychology in Philadelphia.