Often a trainer or an instructor will get a certification, but then they let it lapse - meaning they don't take the necessary continuing education credits to maintain accreditation. So while they might be telling you the truth, they haven't had education in years.
"I've had trainers whose certifications have expired and I've had to remove them from the floor. They have 30 days to correct that and if not, we let them go," said Howie Skora, manager at Gold's Gym.
Gyms should be diligent about checking, but fitness pro Petra Kolber, who has been certified since 1990, urges you to do some fact finding of your own.
"Do your research. Go online. You can Google the best and most credible certifications," Kolber advised.
Google is a good starting point, but IDEA Health & Fitness Association's FitnessConnect can make it one-stop checking. They verify only the most credible organizations.
"It's the first time that the consumer can go online and find fitness professionals who have verified credentials," explained Kathie Davis, the executive director of IDEA Health and Fitness Association.
For example, there are organizations like ACE, ACSM and NASM to name a few. Davis said the companies are coming together to help consumers get what they need. FitnessConnect verifies if instructors are certified and what their specialties are.
Many agencies provide a certification card with an expiration date on it, so ask to see it.
And along with checking credentials, Kolber says try observing your trainers first.
"I often spend a good couple of weeks on a treadmill looking at the trainers - how they teach and treat their clients," Kolber said.
This is a good idea because not all well educated instructors know how to translate their knowledge into power for you.
"You are the customer so don't be afraid to say 'This is nice but I don't feel like it's working,'" Kolber said.