mikeinslc saidDo you prefer chain gyms or independent? How useful are personal trainers? How long should you use them?
Depends a lot on your knowledge/experience base and what you are looking to accomplish. If you choose a chain, do not go to a gym that requires a contract.
If you have never done any strength training before, hiring a trainer is the way to go, if you can afford it. The good ones are expensive (50-60$/hr seems to be entry level in my area) but, again, depending on your goals, you may not need to stay with one indefinitely. You can learn a lot in a few months and then go it on your own.
A lot of guys here have trashed Planet Fitness, and I can understand the complaints. PF is based on a certain business model that purists may find offensive. But if you know what you want to do, it can be fine. And it's only $10 a month (plus and annual $21 or $22 charge.)
If you decide to go with a trainer, try to find one at a dedicated training center. There may be decent ones at some of the chains, but you're more likely to find qualified, professional trainers at an independent gym or training center.
There is plenty of great information here on RJ, plus YouTube. If you're serious about long term changes, I'd encourage you to go the trainer route for at least 3-6 months. It's expensive, yes, but it's your life and health you're investing in.
Post back what you decide and share your experience.