All the celebs have one, and if you’re into exercise and fitness, you have probably had the option of using a personal trainer at some point. Working out with a personal trainer can be a great way to achieve your fitness goals, but is it right for you, and how do you choose one?
A personal trainer should have a qualification in personal training, and have a good level of fitness and athletic technique themselves. Most personal trainers will be on the Register of Exercise Professionals, so that’s a good place to start. Do bear in mind, however, that trainers are charged to join so some of the really good ones may not bother if they’re already well booked with clients. A personal trainer can help set very specific fitness goals for you after an initial assessment, and prescribe the relevant exercise and work out regime dependent on your strengths and weaknesses and, providing you have relevant contact with them, adjust this as you improve.
When choosing a personal trainer there are a number of things to take into account. Cost is an issue, but there are flexible options such group personal training. There are also different types of personal training dependent on the type of activity and location. For example, do you want to be in the gym, outdoors, or in their home studio? There is a trend now for outdoor training groups such as One Element and British Military Fitness, which give you the benefits of working with a trainer without the price tag of a one-on-one session. Working out in groups also helps flagging motivation levels.
A personal trainer can help you achieve specific fitness goals, whether it is to get more energy, a desire to lose weight or tone up, building strength, improving at a particular sport, training for a marathon or event, or improving general health. By having goals your work out and gym sessions can be structured accordingly and give you something to work towards. Whist it’s entirely possible that you’ll be able to meet these goals eventually; do you have the motivation, skills and knowledge to achieve them by yourself? In addition, a personal trainer can help set your goals on a step by step basis, making each stage seem achievable. You may also want to work with a trainer who has specialist body knowledge surrounding an injury, or training for a sport, or pregnancy - you’ll need to ensure that your goals and fitness needs are aligned with their area of expertise.
As well as helping you achieve your goals, a personal trainer will ensure you are getting the best out of your workout. They can ensure that the exercises you are doing are being done correctly, in accordance with your current fitness level and physical ability. By having an expert watch you do exercise, especially when it comes to strength training work, they can ensure that your technique and posture is as it should be to maximise your efforts, as well as prevent injury. By getting to know you, monitoring your progress, giving you feedback and pushing you that extra mile, using a personal trainer also adds a sense of accountability which would otherwise be missing, adding to that extra motivation.
A personal trainer is also a great way to get started at the gym, or any exercise if you’re not used to it and are lacking in confidence. By learning how to do exercise properly, or being shown equipment and facilities you wouldn’t normally use, it will only improve physical and exercise confidence. For example, many women will avoid working out with free weights, not knowing how to use them and being intimated by the male dominated environment. A personal trainer can introduce you to the unknown. Of course, exercise is only one part of getting fit and getting in shape, many personal trainers will offer good nutrition advice and help monitor your food intake. Again that all important accountability comes into effect here. And finally, you’re paying for it and it’s a date in the diary. No procrastinating allowed!
But are there any disadvantages to working out with a trainer? It is unlikely to suit everybody, and there are many people who are disciplined and knowledgeable enough to go it alone and achieve their fitness goals themselves. Additionally, most aerobic and resistance machines will have programmes available to manage specific goals and targets. Technology is also at your beckon call, with smart phone apps on hand for monitoring lap times, measuring and recording progress and performance, measuring BMI (body mass index), and keeping tabs on your diet. A personal trainer may not be the best option for the faint hearted, as there’s a fair amount of emotional and physical pressure that can be laid on – you will get pushed – but isn’t that the point?!
One last factor to bear in mind is that you may be stuck working out around hours to suit them, which could have the potential to affect other areas of your life. Is 6.00am really your optimum time to work out, or is that the only time your trainer could fit you in? And are you ready for the commitment? There’s no point just having a handful of sessions, the real gains and benefits will be felt and seen after a block of sessions.
It’s worth meeting your potential personal trainer first to get to know what they’re like. A free consultation is great way of experiencing their teaching and motivation style, but having a chat over coffee afterwards will also provide insight as to what sort of person they are. If you end up with a trainer who is poles apart from you in terms of personality, likes and dislikes; it is unlikely to be a fruitful relationship. Someone who’s shouty and domineering will put the fear of God into some, but for others, it is exactly this fear that they need.
Ultimately each individual is different. A personal trainer will suit some, but may not be the best option for all. But given all the advantages, if you’re serious about achieving your fitness goals, it’s worth shopping around, finding someone you like, and giving it a whirl. You’ve got nothing to lose, apart from a few unwanted flabby bits!