I just heard a great look at Starting Strength on the radio show Q, with Jian Gomeshi. It's worth a listen.
It is an excellent look at:
The importance of measurable goals (not "I'm fitter" but rather "I benched 5 pounds more for 5 reps this week.")
And the relative importance of a simple program and consistent effort.
The main place where I'd disagree as a personal trainer is the utility of a trainer.
- we're not all out to sell you stuff, although our time and expertise is valuable and can be worth paying for.
- we're not just there for motivation, but also to spot form errors you don't notice yourself, to push you when you need to be pushed, and to provide an external accountability for your workouts. That's beyond what I feel is my primary role - providing the knowledge about how to adapt when you're hurt, tired, or unable to train as the workout proscribes.
I've said this before many times - I'm a personal trainer, and I train people for (part of) my living. But when I train MMA I go to an MMA trainer, or work with a pro fighter. When I strength train, I've done it myself but I've gotten vastly better results when I've trained with a personal trainer. The reason that I am as strong as I am now I owe not to my own professional knowledge, but from folks like John Impallomeni and Mike Guadango, who trained me even as I trained others.
And for what it's worth, if you'd like to hire me for a limited number of sessions to learn to squat, deadlift, bench, press, and power clean (or learn any other exercises) and then go off on your own to train? I'm absolutely delighted to do that. I've done that with a few clients already.
My job isn't to milk money from you by selling you something, Danial Duane's assertion to the contrary otherwise. My job is to provide you a service and knowledge, and if I can train you so well you can go off on your own, that's great. I can fill that time slot in with another client who needs to learn. I'm happy to teach you and send you on your way. Fitness doesn't have to be complicated, but it doesn't mean a professional has nothing to add to what you do.
But yes, I'd echo what he said - focus on one aspect, and if it's strength, going with Starting Strength (and or the DVD of the same name) is a great way to start.