Are 30 Minute Personal Training Sessions Effective?

In this article I want to offer you a completely objective review of the effectiveness of 30 minute personal training sessions.  Now more than ever, people prioritize their health and fitness and actively seek solution to get in shape.  To accommodate this trend, there has been a massive influx of  fitness professionals offering every conceivable solutions to compete for your business.  One popular solution is 30 minute personal training.  It promises great results in half the time for somewhere around half the cost of a typical training session.

Sounds like the best choice doesn’t it?

Not so fast .  .  .

You’re probably asking yourself  “How can I possibly get an effective workout in 30 minutes?”  Well, the short answer is that you can, but it’s not always that simple.  Let’s look at the benefits and drawbacks of an abbreviated workout so you can make a more informed decision about choosing this option.

The Benefits of 30 Minute Personal Training

man running late cartoonTime

This is a big one. The number one excuse people use to avoid exercise is that they don’t have time.  This comes from the preconceived notion that they’ll need to perform long, boring workouts 6 times/week to get results.  This simply isn’t true in most cases, and when a personal trainer says you can do it in 2-3 brief 30 minute sessions, it’s easy to see why people love this option.


Personal training can be an expensive investment, especially if the service is used over a long period of time.  Why pay $60-80 or more for a one hour session when you can typically pay between $30-45 for 30 minutes?  This option is more budget friendly and allows you to engage in supervised exercise for almost half the cost.

Focused Workouts

When you only have 30 minutes to work out, there’s no time to waste and this ensures that your time is spent efficiently. In one hour sessions, some personal trainers waste their clients’ time through irrelevant conversation and ineffective workouts.

Some clients will actually show up late for their hour session  in hopes of performing less work. Yes, it sounds strange but human behavior is complex. With the 30 minute option, you may approach the session with more urgency and punctuality.  Why pay for 60 minutes if you’re only going to do 30 minutes of work?.  The half hour approach keeps things focused and on schedule.

Fun and Energizing

Nothing will suck the energy and motivation out of you faster than long, hard and poorly designed workouts.  Thirty minute personal training offers a solution to that.  Let’s face it, most folks don’t like exercise and it’s more likely they’ll enjoy the experience if it is kept brief.  You won’t feel as exhausted at the end of the session and will likely keep your motivation higher for longer. Sustainability in exercise id vital for long term adherence.

So, with all this positive support for 30 minute personal training sessions, you’re probably ready to run out and get in on the action right? Read on .  .  .

Possible Drawbacks of 30 Minute Personal Training

Incomplete Program Design

hat with incomplete written on itIf personal training was just about the workout, I would have the easiest job in the world.  Most of my work as a personal trainer comes from the non-workout elements.  A successful exercise program addresses a multitude of factors including diet, lifestyle and other wellness variables.  It is very difficult to accomplish all this in only 30 minutes.How can your trainer coach you through the finer details of a fitness program  AND deliver a productive workout in such a condensed time frame.?

When are your results being tracked?  And what about proper warm-up?   I’m not talking about walking on a treadmill for five minutes, I’m talking about active stretching and mobility work to properly prepare your body for more intense exercise.  How about the stretching and cool-down component at the end?

A complete fitness program isn’t rushed and leaves time to address ALL of the needs of the individual.

Not Enough Exercise

Even if the program manages to addresses these issues, how much time is left for the actual workout? 15 or 20 minutes at best. Obviously if you have more needs, you’ll require more time. In fact, the average adult needs about 2.5 hours of moderate intensity exercise a week. This the type most people actually do. If you enjoy more vigorous, high intensity exercise, 75 minutes might suffice for general health maintenance. This doesn’t even address goals of higher fitness and performance gain. For these goals, much more work is=may be required. Don’t even think of making significant changes to your physique without at least 2 hrs of vigorous weekly effort and plenty of moderate intensity exercise in between.

Shorter workouts can certainly be effective but understand that it’s the total amount of work each week that will likely have the most profound effect on your results.

Time Constraints

I’m not contradicting myself here, because time is also a drawback of 30 minute sessions.  What happens if you are 5-10 minutes late?   That only leaves 20 minutes to warm-up  workout and cool down.  That’s obviously not going to be very effective if it happens often enough, and it does, believe me.


So, I’ve listed some major benefits and drawbacks of the 30 minute personal training session.  As the duration of your workout decreases, the intensity or challenge of the workout must proportionately increase.  However, most regular people do not possess the  motivation and required fitness level to get the most out of a 30 minute session.  These sessions can be extremely effective for people who are much more advanced in their training and are highly motivated.

In fact, I use 30 minute sessions myself, but I am incredibly active with sports and I walk over 2 hours everyday. So my workouts compliment my lifestyle and aren’t my sole means of activity.  Don’t believe the hype that performing less work equals better results because these days, people need more activity, not less.

scroogeI do offer 30 minute personal training programs to my own clients, but only when appropriate. I have also worked hard to minimize the drawbacks to give ALL my clients the same experience. Don’t assume that this is the case with all personal trainers though.

You have to be careful when looking for “cheaper” personal training services because it’s become a market dominated by trainers with low client retention, who are new to the industry and need to build a clientele fast.  Is this the profile of a personal trainer that you want training you?

You need to identify your needs and determine if the service fulfills those needs. If you need more coaching and instruction, 30 minutes might leave you wanting and needing more. Otherwise a shorter, more intense approach might be your perfect fitness solution.

If you enjoyed this article, please quickly do me a favor and share with others and comment below.

Craig Simms

Craig Simms

Craig Simms is a personal trainer and weight loss coach in Vancouver, B.C. Craig has been a fitness leader for over 21 years and has amassed over 25,000 hours of personal training experience in that span. He specializes in personalized weight management programs.
Craig Simms
Craig Simms

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