DSCF0010 While making the proverbial “New Year’s resolution” may seem corny, the new year is traditionally a time for setting personal improvement goals, which often means toning up and improving overall fitness.

Joining a gym is easy; mustering the motivation to work out is harder. Even if you make it to the gym regularly, local fitness experts say you could be wasting your time or even harming yourself if you don’t know how to use the equipment properly.

Amy Wilson joined Anytime Fitness on Olio Road last summer with a goal to lose some weight but was seeing little progress on her own. That’s when she decided to enlist the help of personal trainer Fred David.

“Working with him has made all the difference,” says Wilson, who reports more energy and a weight loss of 35 pounds since last fall. “Before, I was coming but not really maximizing my benefit.”

In addition to teaching Wilson proper use of the machines on the circuit, David also has motivated her to eat healthier and drink more water. With a physical therapy background, David’s first goal with most clients is to improve strength and flexibility.

DSCF0016 “It’s not about the six-pack (abs) for me,” says David, whose clients range in age from 13 to 85. “It’s more about health.”

Other trainers may offer a sports training background. A former bouncer, Ian McCranor runs his own fitness and boxing center at 5160 East 65th Street. However, his clientele still consists mainly of “average Joes” trying to lose weight and tone up.

McCranor says even four to six weeks with a personal trainer can improve your workout habits tremendously.

“If you go to a gym on your own with no idea what you’re doing, you’re left up to your own devices,” McCranor explains. “You need to find out what you’re doing, and then you can do it on your own.”

Choosing a personal trainer can be tricky. Aside from the trainer’s competence, the most important factor may be whether the trainer is someone you feel comfortable working with. If the personality doesn’t fit, then you won’t be motivated to keep the appointments.

Here are a few more tips from ACE certified personal trainer Damon Clark (who works with clients at Cardinal Fitness on 96th Street):

  • Read the trainer’s profile or ask how many years of experience he/she has working with clients, particularly those with your needs or limitations.
  • Is the trainer genuinely interested in helping you? The personal trainer you select should motivate you using positive, not negative, reinforcement.
  • Can your personal trainer accommodate your schedule, and is the facility conveniently located?

According to Clark, all personal trainers should provide an initial fitness assessment, and then develop a personalized exercise program. An average reasonable rate is about $30 for a 30-minute session and $50 for a 60-minute session.

While we all wish there were a miracle pill for weight loss, those TV claims just don’t work. “It’s staying consistent and being honest that are the hardest part,” McCranor says.

A five-minute workout with no dietary change won’t give you the results you want. Unfortunately, it all goes back to hard work and dedication. A personal fitness trainer could help keep you on track.